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February 07, 2005

And now for a little...

..."Rest of the Story" action, in regards to Rumsfeld and the Up-Armoring HMMWVs question and his now-infamous "You go to war with the Army you have." comment

Rumsfeld Blasts Russert for Edited Report

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld blasted NBC's "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert on Sunday for selectively editing an exchange he had in December with a National Guardsman who complained that his unit's vehicles weren't armored.

"That was unfair and it was selectively taking out two sentences from a long exchange," the Pentagon chief complained. "And when you suggested that that's how I answered that question, that is factually wrong."

Russert had just aired a clip of the now infamous exchange between his guest and National Guardsman Specialist Thomas Wilson, where Wilson asked during a town hall meeting in Kuwait why "we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles?"

In footage aired by Russert, Rumsfeld replied: "As you know, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

"And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up."

After the clip had ended, the irked Defense Secretary said, "That is not how I answered that question.

"But, Mr. Secretary," replied Russert somewhat sheepishly. "It clearly represents the exchange and . . . "

"It does not," Rumsfeld shot back.

Prepared with a full transcript, the Defense chief overode the NBC host and proceeded to read his full answer:

"I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored," Rumsfeld began in response to Wilson.

"They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to places where they are needed. I'm told they are being--the Army is--I think it's something like 400 a month are being done now.

"And it's essentially a matter of physics. It's not a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army's desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, you go to the war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

"Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce armor necessary at a rate that they believe--it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously but a rate that they believe is the rate that can be accomplished.

"I can assure you that General Schumacher and the leadership of the Army and certainly General Whitcomb are sensitive to the fact that not every vehicle has the degree of armor that would be desirable to have, but that they're working at it at a good clip.

"It's interesting. I've talked a great deal about this with a team of people who've been working hard at the Pentagon. And if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and the tank could still be blown up. And you can have an up-armored Humvee and it can be blown up.

"And you can go down and the vehicle--the goal we have is to have many of those vehicles as is humanly possible with the appropriate level of armor available for the troops. And that's what the Army's been working on." [END OF RUMSFELD'S ANSWER TO WILSON].

After finishing the transcript, the defense chief told Russert:

"Now, that answer is totally different from picking out two lines. And I think it's an unfair representation and it's exactly what some of the newspapers around the country did."

Rumsfeld said that thanks to a program begun last year, ever vehicle in Iraq carry U.S. troops in combat zones would be fully armored by Feb. 15.

Like a litte more?

Human Events.

Here's Rumsfeld defending himself on Meet The Press - via their own transcript.