After the Abu Ghraib controversy, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is in the firing line again – this time over revelations that American troops in Iraq are badly equipped. On a visit to a base in Kuwait, Rumsfeld got an earful from a marine who asked why soldiers had to dig through rubbish dumps to find scrap metal to protect their vehicles. It was a verbal ambush that caught the Defence Secretary off guard. After regaining his composure, he responded: “You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
US President George W Bush distanced himself from Rumsfeld but said soldiers’ concerns were being addressed: “If I were a soldier overseas wanting to defend my country I would want to ask the secretary of defence the same, and that is ‘are we getting the best?`” The complaints have put the administration further on the defensive. The opposition Democrats have long argued that US forces in Iraq do not have sufficient protection. The general in charge of coalition troops there has vowed to make sure that all vehicles have at least minimal armour.