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Troop Armor

What can I say? I didn't get through the entire New York Times yesterday. Here's their article on troop body armor, the acquisition of which was horribly mismanaged by the administration. 200 soldiers died while they twiddled their thumbs.

Over the last five years, George Bush has encountered innumerable forks in the road. Invariably, he has chosen the wrong path. Troop armor is a more salient example.

Update, 8:02 PM EST: Sens. Durbin and Levin have sent a letter to Rumsfeld asking why the troops don't have tourniquets in their first aid kits. The Baltimore Sun reported the problem over the weekend:

Even after the bullet cut through his leg and severed his femoral artery, 1st Lt. David R. Bernstein had a chance. The shooting stopped quickly, and a soldier trained in combat medical care was at Bernstein's side almost immediately. Helicopters landed, and minutes later the young platoon leader was surrounded by four surgeons and all the equipment of a modern battlefield trauma center.

Bernstein died that night in Iraq, despite getting the best emergency medical care the Army had to offer. But doctors who specialize in combat injuries, and who reviewed details of the case provided by The Sun, question whether the 24-year-old West Point graduate might have lived if the Army had had something else to offer: a $20 nylon-and-plastic tourniquet.

"What was available in the Civil War, correctly applied, would have been quite adequate here," said Dr. Howard Champion, a senior trauma adviser to the military and one of the nation's leading trauma specialists. "Unfortunately, they were left with less than that."

Since at least a month before the war in Iraq began, medical experts in the Army and other services have called on the Pentagon to equip every American soldier in the war zone with a modern tourniquet. The simple first-aid tool - a more sophisticated version of the cloth-and-stick device used by armies for centuries - could all but eliminate deaths caused by blood loss from extremity wounds, the most common cause of preventable death in combat, they argue. The cost would not likely exceed $2 million, or about two-thousandths of a percent of the $82 billion proposed for the war this year.


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