Devastating Ad Against Santorum

I don't think I need to say much about this, other than I think this is a devastating anti-Santorum ad. Watch and see for yourself.

FactCheck.org On The Ad: "False Claims"

http://www.factcheck.org/article438.html

False Claims About Body Armor
A new group falsely accuses Republicans of voting against body armor for troops. Both sides have misled the public about this issue.

A new ad claims Republican Sen. George Allen of Virginia "voted against giving our troops" modern body armor. He did no such thing. The ad cites a vote on an appropriations amendment that had nothing whatever to do with body armor.

The ad also claims troops were sent to Iraq with flak vests "left over from the Vietnam war," another falsehood. The ad actually shows an improved vest that wasn't available until the 1980's.

The newly formed group responsible for the ad, VoteVets.org, is reported to be considering similar ads attacking several other Republican incumbents, and has already announced their intention to start running them against Sen.Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

This is a nasty tactic – accusing an opponent of playing with the lives of American troops – and both sides have stooped to it. This line of attack actually began with Republicans in 2004, when President Bush's campaign repeatedly accused his Democratic opponent John Kerry of voting against body armor.

We de-bunked Bush's claim at the time, but now there is even less excuse to make such an accusation because later investigations have made it clear that the initial shortage of up-to-date body armor was not the result of any vote in Congress, but instead was a classic supply-chain foul-up. The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office laid the shortage to the inability of manufacturers to meet the Pentagon's sudden increase in demand, and logistical mistakes by the Pentagon in getting the gear shipped to Iraq and distributed.
Analysis

The ad is shocking and visually powerful. It shows Pete Granato, an Army reservist who served in Iraq, firing several rounds from an AK-47 assault rifle into a pair of mannequins at a distance of about 50 feet. Granato then rips open the vests to show bullet holes in the abdomen of the figure wearing what he described as a "vest left over from the Vietnam War," but none in the dummy protected by what he refers to as "modern body armor, made for today's weapons."

A False Statement: "Voted against" body armor

Granato says of the newer armor, "Senator George Allen voted against giving our troops this. Now it's time for us to vote against him."

That's false. Allen did not vote against giving troops modern body armor. What the ad cites is a vote on an amendment April 2, 2003, just days before the fall of Baghdad, that would have appropriated just over $1 billion for unspecified "National Guard and Reserve Equipment." It made no mention of body armor. And when the admendment's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, took the Senate floor to give examples of the kinds of equipment that might be purchased with this money, she cited "skin reduction exposure paste," "mobile chemical agent detectors," and "collective shelters" for chemical attacks – but didn't once mention buying body armor. Neither did any other senator. Her amendment was killed by a mostly party-line vote.

It is true that in a press release Landrieu quoted the Marine Corps Reserve as saying it needed more "bullet-proof inserts, and tactical vests" before another wave of reservists went to Iraq, among many other items. But neither Landrieu nor any other senator mentioned that during debate.

More importantly, there was already money for buying body armor. As we explain in more detail later in this article, the Pentagon was already in the process of vastly increasing its orders for the latest-model armored vests, and the shortages that plagued some units in Iraq for the first few months of the war were due not to a lack of money, but to the inability of Pentagon contractors to manufacture the vests fast enough to meet the sudden spike in demand, and problems getting the gear shipped to the troops. A report issued in April 2005 said:

GAO: Temporary shortages of the Interceptor body armor occurred because of acquisition delays related to lack of key materials and distribution problems in theater.

Blaming Sen. Allen for this, or Sen. Kerry for that matter, is just plain wrong.

Another False Statement: "Leftover from Vietnam"

The ad also exaggerates the body-armor problem by falsely claiming that troops were sent to Iraq using vests " left over from the Vietnam War." What the ad actually shows, however, is not a Vietnam-era vest at all but an improved vest the Pentagon adopted in the 1980's, and which was standard issue until the current "Interceptor" armor began to be phased in starting in 1999.

We first became aware of this after seeing a blog post on the subject, and confirmed it with some further research. As you can see for yourself on the well-researched website www.VietnamGear.com, the body armor used in the Vietnam war, for example the M-69 flak vest, came only in shades of olive drab, not the camouflage pattern shown in the ad.

We showed the ad to Simon Shaw, co-founder of the VietnamGear website, who said the vest shown "is not from the Vietnam war." He identified the vest the ad is showing as a Ground Troops Fragmentation Protective Vest that was part of the Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) introduced after Vietnam . These later vests were made of Kevlar, not nylon, and offered somewhat greater protection against shrapnel. The Kevlar vests replaced the old nylon vests during the 1980's. It wasn't until 1999 that the Pentagon began to equip troops with the current Interceptor body armor, which uses ceramic plates to stop small-arms rounds.

It is true that the Kevlar vest shown is the type that some troops, especially Reservists, were using in the early months of the Iraq conflict. But calling them "left over from Vietnam" is false. To be accurate on this count, Granato would should have said, "This is a vest left over from 1999."

Other Ads

This ad is just one of many to raise this bogus issue in the 2006 House and Senate elections. We found seven ads, by candidates from both parties and from outside groups such as MoveOn.org, that mention body armor. These ads either fault an opponent for not giving our troops adequate body armor, or highlight a candidate's own support for funding for body armor.

For example, MoveOn.org has used it against six Republican incumbents, claiming they were indifferent to overcharges by Pentagon contractors "at a time when soldiers didn't have enough body armor." And Republican challenger John Raese has claimed that "Robert Byrd voted against a bill that would have provided money for body armor," sending to our troops a message "that we don't care."

But our research leads us to conclude that all these ads are off base. For one thing, all troops in Iraq (and all Pentagon civilians, for that matter) have had the bullet-stopping Interceptor body armor since January 2004. But more importantly, the shortages that existed for the first eight or nine months of the Iraq conflict weren't the fault of Congress. Furthermore, we see nothing Congress could have done that would have ended the shortage sooner.

Because there has been so much misinformation purveyed about this subject by political ads we offer here a brief chronology of how modern military body armor developed, and when it was issued to troops.

Body Armor Timeline

1941-1945 - During World War II dozens of different types of flak jackets and armor are issued to pilots and gunners in the U.S. Air force and the British Royal Air force. The first types consist of heavy steel plates sown into cloth. Different types of armor for ground troops is combat-tested but none are issued as standard equipment.
("Body Armor History," GlobalSecurity.org)

1950-1953 - The Korean War is the first military campaign during which the U.S. military issued body armor to ground soldiers. By the end of the war, soldiers are using vests made of nylon or of Doron, a laminated plastic fiberglass substance. The nylon vests weigh 12 pounds. Both types of vests stopped shrapnel, but not rifle bullets.
("Body Armor History," GlobalSecurity.org; "Armored Vest Fact Sheet," Office of the Quartermaster General. 23 December 1952)

1965-1975 - Vietnam War. The M-69 flak jacket is issued standard to troops. Jackets were made of ballistic nylon. A medium-sized vest weighed about 8 pounds and stopped shrapnel but not rifle bullets.
("Body Armor History," GlobalSecurity.org; "M69 Flak Jacket," Vietnamgear.com)

1980's - The Personal Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) vest is introduced and issued to soldiers. The vest is made of ballistic nylon and Kevlar. A medium sized vest weighs 8.5 pounds and can stop shrapnel.
("Personal Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) Vest," GlobalSecurity.org)

1996 - The Interim Small Arms Protective Overvest (ISAPO) is approved for procurement by the armed forces on a limited basis. The ISAPO contains ceramic protective plates that can stop small-arms fire, including that of an AK-47. It weighs 16.5 pounds and is worn over the PASGT vest, for a total weight of 25 pounds.
("Interim Small Arms Protective Overvest," GlobalSecurity.org)

Summer, 1999 - The Interceptor body armor replaces the PASGT as standard issue body armor for front-line soldiers in the Army. The vest weighs 8 pounds, and two ceramic Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPI) each weigh 4 pounds, for a total of 16 pounds. It can stop shrapnel and small-arms fire, including that of an AK-47. The Army plans to issue Interceptor body armor to U.S. forces gradually, over an eight-year period ending in 2007.
("Interceptor Body Armor," GlobalSecurity.org; Cox, Matthew, "Enter the Interceptor: Light Infantry Gets Even Lighter with New Armor," Army Times. July 1999. GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

October 7, 2001 - Operation Enduring Freedom commences to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan. Army distributes Interceptor armor to military personnel during this operation.
(GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

March 20, 2003 - Operation Iraqi Freedom begins. At the time, the Interceptor body armor is issued standard to Army and Marine ground troops. Most support troops (such as truck drivers) and National Guard and Reserve troops still lack the bullet-stopping Interceptor armor, however. In anticipation of the war, the Pentagon already has increased its orders sharply. As the war starts quarterly orders for vests reach 77,000 – nine times higher than pre-war levels. Orders for plates reach 109,000, eleven times higher than previously.
(GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

April 9, 2003 - Baghdad falls. Around this time the Army stops ordering Interceptor body armor, according to a later investigation by the Army Inspector General, as quoted in The New York Times.
(Moss, Michael, "Many Missteps Tied to Delay of Armor to Protect Soldiers," New York Times .)

May 2003 - Army reverses course, orders Interceptor body armor be issued to all soldiers, including support troops.
(GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations ," April 2005)

October 2003 - Military commanders order that Interceptor armor be given to all military and civilian personnel in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.
(GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

October 21, 2003 - At a House subcommittee hearing , Lt. Gen. Richard A. Cody, an Army Deputy Chief of Staff, is asked several times if the Army has enough money to cover the costs of buying Interceptor body armor for all soldiers. Cody repeatedly says "yes."

November 19, 2003 - Senate Armed Services Committee holds hearings on delays in supplying troops in Iraq amidst reports of families buying armor privately and sending it to soldiers.

December, 2003 - Back orders for Interceptor vests and protective plates spike to their highest levels. Over 300,000 vests are on back order; over 500,000 plates. (GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

January 2004 - All soldiers serving in Iraq have been issued body armor according to US Central Command.
(GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

April, 2005 - The Government Accountability Office reports that the initial shortage of Interceptor body armor resulted from the sudden surge in demand which manufacturers couldn't meet, due to shortages of Kevlar fabric and of a critical material used in ceramic plates. It also faults the Pentagon logistics system, which it says was trying to ship units so fast (sometimes directly from the factory to the troops) that it lost track of thousands of vests and plates.
(GAO, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005)

January 7, 2006 - The New York Times reports a secret Marine Corps study showing that 80 per cent of fatalities in Iraq from upper-body wounds could be avoided with expanded body armor that covers sides of torso. However, this expanded body armor can add 12.4 pounds, bringing the total weight of the armor to as much as 31 pounds for a medium sized vest.
(Moss, Michael, "Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor," New York Times; "Interceptor Body Armor Fact Sheet," Program Executive Office Solider.)

March 17, 2006 - In response to reports of soldiers employing alternative types of body armor, such as Dragon Skin, the army announces that all commanders should ensure that soldiers are only using the Interceptor body armor and its components. Depending on modifications, the Dragon Skin can actually be heavier than the Interceptor, though supporters prefer its flexibility. The product is sold privately, but not approved by the Army because it failed ballistics tests.

May 31, 2006 - Army deadline for proposals to develop a new generation of body armor that is lighter and less cumbersome than the Interceptor armor.

October 3, 2006 - Deadline for soldiers to file with the army for reimbursement for body armor purchased by them or their families.

by Brooks Jackson and Justin Bank

Sources

Government Accountability Office, "Defense Logistics: Actions Needed to Improve the Availability of Critical Items during Current and Future Operations," April 2005.

Moss, Michael, "The Conflict in Iraq: Protection," New York Times . 7 March 2005.

Hedges, Michael, "Bulletproof vests target of debate," The Houston Chronicle . 18 Oct. 2003.

Loeb, Vernon and Labbe, Theola, "Body Armor Saves Lives in Iraq; Pentagon Criticized for Undersupply of Protective Vests," Washington Post . 4 Dec. 2003.

Kennedy, Edward M. and Hart, Brian and Alma, "Pentagon Still Failing to Protect the Troops," Boston Globe . 3 Feb. 2005.

Moss, Michael, "Pentagon Study Links Fatalities to Body Armor," New York Times. 7 Jan. 2006.

"All Deployed Soldiers Should Have Body Armor by November," Association of the United States Army. 21 Oct. 2003.

"Army Speeds Body Armor Buys," Association of the United States Army. 9 Oct. 2003.

Thank you for posting this...

jillsmith - thank you for posting this. The original ad should be removed.

I wish people exhibited more passion about being FOR Knob Casey as opposed to just being against Santorum. Minor insanity (in a few cases) aside, I'm not sure anyone out there can argue against Santorum's passion - which includes a passion for delivering for Pennsylvanians. I was a spectator in 2000 in North Philadelphia when Rick delivered a federal check to a non-profit that does strong community development work. Long after the cameras were gone, I watched him talk with folks about their lives, their struggles in a very real way. I trust he keeps these things with him.

On the other hand, I remember seeing Knob Casey in Pittsburgh when he was running against Rendell. Even WITH the cameras there, his wife had to literally yell at him to go and talk with people at a train station. No passion. How pathetic!

It's pathetic that a man who ran for State Treasurer just two years ago against a well-qualified candidate (without a famous name, however) has barely served a day in this position. I don't know about all of you, but I am first and foremost a Pennsylvanian, and I take the roles of my State Treasurer very seriously.

Oddly Enough

I take US Senator very seriously. And one of the most spectacular disasters in the history of Pennsylvania politics certainly shouldn't have that.

Again, I don't know how or where you come up with your examples, but in my (extensive) experience, and that of almost everyone I know, Bob Casey has been a TIRELESS servant of the public good while Rick Santorum is possibly the biggest (can we use profanities here?) to walk God's green Earth.

Hell, David Duke is pretty passionate about trying to get people to hate blacks and Jews. That doesn't mean he's not despicable.

The reason there is so much anti-Santorum passion is because when you have someone that horrible, it's tough not to.

And, for the record, the ad should absolutely stay. It's effective and legal, and that's all that matters in this politics game.

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