WHO: U.S. Reps. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., and Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas
WHAT: Raw troops are being sent from training camps directly to Afghanistan and Iraq. They carry plastic backpacks with straps that cut off arm circulation until it becomes “virtually impossible to fire their weapons,” and their M4 carbines notoriously fail in firefights. That’s what the two powerful congressmen wrote to top Pentagon officials after meeting overseas with soldiers from the 503rd Infantry Regiment and the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
WHAT’S BEING DONE: Skelton and Ortiz said many of the soldiers they talked to are using their own money to buy better backpacks from commercial suppliers. The troops also said they must spend their own money to repeatedly replace their flimsy uniforms, which don’t last long in Afghanistan’s harsh environment and have a useless camouflage pattern.