Saturday, January 26, 2008

Letters to the Editor
On war, weapons and shields

Dear Editor,

I first want to express my thanks to the sons of both Joyce Holman and Kristi Nicholls for their service to our nation during its most trying time of this generation. I empathize with the feelings expressed in their letters of May 8th and 10th. I am both awed and respectful of Sgt. Holman's spirit and would love to hear first-hand the feelings of Ms. Nicholls' son, as I am always wary of making judgments based on second-hand information.As a parent, soldier, and a veteran of the current conflicts, I want to word this carefully out of respect for the anxiety and trepidation of these parents. Personal body armor is designed for protection against small arms fire, and all soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have it. This means that they have the ballistic plates, otherwise it is not armor, but merely a fabric vest. In some cases, the enhanced plates are not issued until troops reach staging areas near Iraq, as it makes distribution more effective. This was not the case in 2003-4, and some troops bought armor at personal expense for which reimbursement has been offered. Personally procured body armor is no longer authorized to prevent the use of inferior and defective body armor, to include Dragon Skin.Losing soldiers to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is preventable, but not through technological means as Ms. Nicholls states. All HUMMWVs that travel the roads of Iraq are armored, some more heavily than others; but as the armor increases, so does the lethality of IEDs. While prudence demands the use of armor against smaller, more easily-identified threats, bombs that leave swimming-pool-sized holes will defeat not only the best-armored HUMMWVs, but Strykers and tanks as well. The race between better weapons and better shields will always be won by the weapon. See both and key to prevention lies in avoidance. That solution is ultimately political, and the responsibility for its implementation lies with all of us. Brian Delaplane
Mehlingen, Germany