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DOD TURNS BLIND EYE



By Assoc. Producer Lauren | Aug 15, 2013 12:53 pm

In a letter dated July 25, 2013, the Department of Defense told Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that the flow of necessary equipment and materials to U.S. armed forces fighting overseas is "adequate."

The reply came after Rep. Duncan Hunter sent a letter in June to Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel saying, "Items such as metal detectors, tourniquets, eye protection and gun lubrication--not to mention the basic necessities like soap, toothpaste, and socks--have all been requested by units in the field. However there are numerous instances where these items are not supplied by a logistics system that is cumbersome and which can be non- responsive to the war fighter."

Specifically, Hunter's letter cites the non-profit military support organization, Troops Direct. Based out of Northern California, Troops Direct receives requests from U.S. military commanders on the front lines in Afghanistan and Africa for vital equipment and supplies which they cannot receive through the military's internal supply chain. What makes the organization unique is that they focus on fulfilling direct orders from those on the ground as opposed to shipping arbitrary care packages to the troops. While the Defense Department letter says that supplies such as medical trauma kits and counter-IED equipment are, "available in sufficient quantities," many military officials who have reached out to Troops Direct would beg to differ.

For example, one Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team leader based in Afghanistan wrote to Troops Direct asking for three Tactical Remote Pull Lines and 3 Day Assault Packs each.  To put it in layman's terms, Tactical Remote Pull Lines are used by EOD teams to safely dismantle IEDs and 3 Day Assault Packs are backpacks designed specifically for troops to carry equipment efficiently.

The EOD team leader said in his email, "We are in dire need of some gear and with the cuts that are looming around we will probably never see the quality gear we need." Concerned with the hefty price tag that comes with each piece of equipment, ($553 each for the pull lines and $350 each for the assault packs) the team leader writes, "Our team would need three of each. If this would be possible at all or even just one of each to keep us in the fight that would be really awesome."

FYI: We just thought you'd like to know that for the U.S. government to supply this team with the necessary equipment to stay safe, it would cost $2,709 which is approximately one-third the cost of Obama's alleged eight hour February golf lesson with legendary coach, Butch Harmon.

Another military leader emailed Troops Direct saying, "I was looking for some breakfast type things since we no longer get breakfast were I am at.  As well as looking for some healthy snacks since all that the somewhat of a PX [Post Exchange] we do have carries nothing but unhealthy stuff." An Army medic also emailed the non-profit saying, "Our aid bags were placed on backorder and we never left stateside with them. I am currently using a modified assault pack as my main trauma bag, which has not been ideal for any of the missions we've done."

READ: Requests from soliders on front lines to Troops Direct

Others have written Troops Direct thanking them for their help, with one email saying, "It means a lot to the men that there are still people back home willing to help us, even when our elected officials seem to have forsaken them." Another email to the organization even says, " You have saved our lives!"

PHOTOS: Troops Direct donations put to good use on front lines

Aaron Negherbon, founder of Troops Direct, says that while he was disheartened by the DOD's response, he's certainly not surprised. Negherbon says that if DOD's reply was accurate, "Troops Direct wouldn't have to exist and the facts don't come from that letter. The facts come from the correspondence we receive from American troops around the world which prove otherwise."

Rep. Duncan Hunter responded to the DOD letter by saying, “What I find most unfortunate about all this is that there are verifiable breakdowns in the delivery and availability of varying resources.  If there weren’t, then military men and women wouldn’t have to rely as much on outside support as they actually do. The Pentagon needs to acknowledge this is happening and then understand where exactly the problems exist.  The fact that they won’t just ratchets up the frustration for so many people.” 

To learn more about Troops Direct, click here

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