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Armor-producing firm: Rumsfeld is a liar

Refreshing to have this come right out into the open. The Pentagon simply hasn’t asked the companies to ramp up production. More Shame of Bush’s America in the support of its troops. (AZ Republic)

“We’ve been telling the Pentagon for months that we have the capacity to double our production,” said former U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, a consultant for ArmorWorks of Tempe.

“We’re ready, and we haven’t heard a thing.” advertisement

The issue of adequate armor protection for military vehicles in Iraq became front-page news this week when a National Guard soldier from Tennessee stood up at a town hall meeting in Kuwait and confronted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles, and why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?” Army Spc. Thomas Wilson asked the secretary.

Wilson’s surprisingly blunt question drew applause from fellow soldiers, who are preparing to ship out from Kuwait to Iraq.

Rumsfeld said he spoke with a general at the Pentagon before traveling to Kuwait and was told the military was doing its best to provide troops the resources they need.

“It’s essentially a matter of physics,” he said. “It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it.”

Salmon said that simply isn’t true, at least in the case of ArmorWorks, which has a $30 million contract to provide composite armor kits that are fitted onto Humvee vehicles in three hours by soldiers in the field.

The Pentagon right now, in its postdebacle spin, is trying to convince everyone that contractors are operating at peak capacity,” Salmon told The Arizona Republic. “In our case it’s flat-out not accurate.”

Salmon, a conservative Republican who narrowly lost the 2002 governor’s race, has been a paid consultant for ArmorWorks for more than a year.

He said the firm is producing about 300 armor kits a month but easily can ship twice that many.

The $30 million contract the Pentagon awarded ArmorWorks in September called for the Tempe factory to produce 1,500 armor kits by January. Salmon said 1,200 already have been shipped, but ArmorWorks hasn’t been told whether it will be offered a new contract.

“We haven’t been told anything about what’s going on,” he said.

“I think a lot of this is the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding