Good morning. My name is Paul Rieckhoff. I am addressing you this morning as a US citizen and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I served with the US Army in Iraq for 10 months, concluding in February, 2004.
But when we got to Baghdad, we soon found out that the people who planned this war were not ready for us. There were not enough vehicles, not enough ammunition, not enough medical supplies, not enough water. Many days, we patrolled the streets of Baghdad in 120 degree heat with only one bottle of water per soldier. There was not enough body armor, leaving my men to dodge bullets with Vietnam-era flak vests. We had to write home and ask for batteries to be included in our care packages. Our soldiers deserved better.
The other image is of President Bush at his press conference 2 weeks ago. After all the waiting, after all the mistakes we had experienced first hand over in Iraq, after another year of a policy that was not making the situation any better for our friends who are still there, he told us we were staying the course. He told us we were making progress. And he told us that, “We’re carrying out a decision that has already been made and will not change.”
Our troops are still waiting for more body armor. They are still waiting for better equipment. They are still waiting for a policy that brings in the rest of the world and relieves their burden. Our troops are still waiting for help.
I am not angry with our President, but I am disappointed.
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