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MONDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Pentagonís delay providing body armor is inexcusable

The Department of Defense is less than enthusiastic about doing something that should have been an assumed part of its role: ensuring that men and women fighting in Iraq have a reasonable amount of body armor and equipment to protect them from injury.

Soldiers and their families are still spending hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars for armor that they say the military won't provide, according to The Associated Press. This is despite a law that Congress passed last October, requiring reimbursement and giving the Pentagon until Feb. 25 to develop regulations to govern it.

The DOD opposed passage of the law, calling reimbursement "an unmanageable precedent that will saddle the DOD with an open-ended financial burden." That's the kind of bureaucratic language that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is so good at. He has an excuse or a rationale for everything, whether it's a success or a failure.

A Pentagon spokeswoman says the department "is in the final stages of putting a reimbursement program together and it is expected to be operating soon."

The sooner the better. It's overdue under the law, of course, but the law never should have been necessary. Making our service people fight without giving them proper protection is unconscionable.

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