"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt
[September 29, 2005] Sen. Chris Dodd today announced that he will introduce legislation directing the Department of Defense to reimburse soldiers who purchase essential military equipment for serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The United States government has few higher priorities than the safety and well-being of U.S. troops deployed in harm's way. In my view, that starts with equipping them with the gear they need to operate safely and successfully," said Dodd. "But when it comes to backing our troops in this way, the Administration is either showing complete incompetence or utter indifference. That's why I'm once again introducing legislation to allow for our troops, their family members and others to be reimbursed for critical safety equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan. We shouldn't have to introduce a law for this to happen. American can do better and it must."
After troubling reports surfaced of troops digging into their own pockets to purchase critical safety equipment, Dodd authored legislation last year to reimburse them, their families, and charitable groups for these purchases. Despite President Bush signing the bill into law in October 2004, the Department of Defense has yet to comply as was required by February 25, 2005. The current law allows for claims of up to $1,100 to be filed by U.S. troops and evaluated and approved by the Secretary of Defense. These reimbursements were to be made for purchases made between September 11, 2001 and July 31, 2004.
Since the Secretary of Defense has yet to comply, Dodd's legislation would take the reimbursement program out of the Defense Secretary's hands and instead allow troops' unit commanders to decide which equipment was eligible for reimbursement. In addition, the measure would cover all purchases made for troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan because reports still indicate that military personnel continue to be insufficiently equipped.
This timeline includes the correspondence between Dodd and Rumsfeld, as well as other relevant documents detailing the Defense Department's non-compliance with the law.