American soldiers are being maimed and killed from being sent into combat with insufficient equipment. This week, Rumsfeld went on one of his famous charm offensives to reassure the troops.
One soldier, identified by The Associated Press as Army Spc. Thomas Wilson of the 278th Regimental Combat Team, a Tennessee National Guard outfit, asked Rumsfeld why more military combat vehicles were not reinforced for battle conditions.
"Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to uparmor our vehicles?" Wilson asked.
"It's essentially a matter of physics, not a matter of money," Rumsfeld said. "It's a matter of production and the capability of doing it."
"As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want," Rumsfeld said.
He added, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and it can [still] be blown up."
The troops were not reassured, neither were their families, and neither were the American people.
The latest complaints put the administration further on the defensive. Bush had rejected charges from Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry in the campaign for last month's election that military forces in Iraq did not have sufficient protection.
California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives, said Rumsfeld should be fired.
She said the Iraq war "began 21 months ago and Secretary Rumsfeld has still not done what is necessary, which is his highest duty, to protect our troops to the greatest degree possible. No CEO in America would retain a manager with so clear a record of failure and neither should President Bush."
It doesn't help that Rumsfeld was lying -- about the availability of armor, that is; he was telling the truth about getting blown up.
Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.
Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company's aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.
"We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month," Mecredy said in the interview. "I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that."
Faced with a PR meltdown, President Bush, leapt into action.
President Bush said on Thursday U.S. troop concerns about inadequate equipment for Iraq combat are being addressed and he did not blame soldiers for raising the issue with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Why is Bush's first thought to reassure us that they're not going to blame the soldiers? For what would they blame them? For embarassing the administration by pointing out uncomfortable truths? For contradicting their commander-in-chief, who assures us that not only is everything going swimmingly, but that he gives the boys and girls in the field all the support they ask for (at least when those bad Democrats let him)? For implying that mistakes might have been made under the watch of the president who can't think of any mistakes he's made in the last four years? Perhaps Bush needs reassure us that he's not going to blame the soldiers because his first thought is to blame the soldiers.
Considering the administration's relationship with truth and constructive criticism, we can safely assume that Spc. Thomas Wilson will be scrubbing latrines for the rest of his military career.