Congressman Gene Taylor Blasts Rumsfeld - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/11/04

Congressman Gene Taylor Blasts Rumsfeld

"Half of all our casualties. Half of all the wounded. Half of all the deaths are the result of improvised explosive devices," says 4th District Congressman Gene Taylor

However, when Taylor and other dignitaries travel to the Iraqi War Zone, they are protected from those deadly roadside booby traps by heavy armor and radio signal jammers that keep them from being detonated.

"I came back and said how often do you do this for the regular troops," Taylor asked the top Brass during his visit to Iraq last year.

"Well, that numbers classified," he says was the response.

Taylor says he suspects there's a good reason that number kept secret.

"If the Average American knew how small the percentage of vehicles that are protected with these jammers, they'd be outraged," he said.

And though Pentagon officials now say 90 percent of the Humvees will have more armor protection by March 2005, Taylor says when it comes to armor protection for medium and heavy trucks the number is closer to 10 percent.

"Every convoy has trucks and humvees and the enemy is smart enough to know which ones are more vulnerable."

Taylor lays the blame for the suspected oversights squarely at the doorstep of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"It's his job to look out for them," says Taylor.

"Congress told him to fix it. He was aware of the need. He drug his feet in getting it done, and I can't tell you how angry it makes me because we're getting ready to send 5000 young Mississippians off to Iraq."

As far as funding goes, Taylor says Congress writes a blank check when it comes to protecting troops.

Money he says should have been spent for that purpose long ago.

"These jammers cost about 10 thousand dollars a copy. It probably cost about 10 thousand dollars to bury a dead GI. I would much rather spend the 10 thousand dollars to keep that from happening."

By Don Culpepper

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