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Soldier Mom
Do More to Keep Our Kids Safe in Iraq
Soldier Mom Calls on US Govt to Spend More to Protect Troops
By TRACEY CALDWELL 01/15/2007 11:40 PM ET
The Baltimore Sun featured an article about the how some soldiers are being sent into battle without the safest armored vehicles. If you even saw the article, you probably didn't pay much attention to it. But I, like a lot of military families, immediately sent off an email to my son. What kind of armored vehicle does he ride in? Is he in the safest armored vehicle? Unfortunately, my son is out of email contact for a few weeks, so I have to wait for my answer. I looked at the photos he has sent me, no Humvees or other vehicles in the background, so no clues there. I still have some sleepless nights ahead of me before I get my answer.

Most soldiers patrol in the old M1114 Humvees. It has a flat bottom and that absorbs the impact from the IEDs. There are twenty thousand of the old Humvees in Iraq. The newer Cougars and M117 Armored Security Vehicles, known as MRAPs, are built with a V-shaped hull that deflects the blast outward. There are fewer than one thousand of the newer MRAP armored security vehicles in Iraq. A Marine commander said that, "If you are hit by an IED, your chance of survival is four or five times greater in an MRAP than in a M1114." Ok, that's enough for me, I want my son in an MRAP armored security vehicle instead of a M1114 Humvee. But Armored security vehicles are not like body armor or helmet inserts, I can't just hold a car wash a raise the five hundred thousand to seven hundred thousand dollars each one costs. Even if I could, where would I buy one, how would I send it to him? Would the Army let him use it? Besides, I know my son. He would insist I buy one for everyone.

If that article wasn't enough to give a mother an anxiety attack, MSNBC's Countdown did a story on Trophy, the Israeli built anti-RPG system. This system can stop RPGs, rocket propelled grenades ninety-eight percent of the time. Trophy is battle-tested and ready to be deployed today. The Army fears that the purchase of Trophy systems will jeopardize the development of its Future Combat System, which has an anti-RPG component. The Future Combat system will not be battlefield ready before 2011. I know that policy decisions are difficult and budgets are not unlimited. In some ways, I am glad these decisions are not mine to make. I would buy Trophy today to keep my son safe. But I will feel enormous guilt if in 2011 someone else child lost his life on a battlefield because state of the art equipment was not developed to keep him safe because they spent the money buying Trophy to keep my son safe in 2007.

This is the first major long-term military conflict since the Mexican American war in 1846-1848 that American have not been asked to pay a special tax to fund the war; no additional tax for individual citizens, no excess profit tax for corporations. It isn't the private citizen or the corporations that are being asked to sacrifice in this war. This month, we will be getting our W-2s and filling out our tax forms. We will be looking at how much we have to pay, how much refund we will receive. On that form there is a box you can check if you want three dollars of your tax burden to be allocated to paying for presidential election campaigns. I wonder if there was a box on the form that you could check if you wanted to pay for the war, if you wanted to pay for our soldiers to have the best equipment to keep them safe; how many Americans would check that box?

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Tracey-Kay Caldwell is the mother of a soldier, Democratic Party Editor Editor of BellaOnline.com, and a freelance writer. She can be reached at IraqSoldierMom@gmail.com.

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