The Heritage Foundation invited Army Reserve engineer Colonel Kerry Kachejian to speak about his book, SUVs Suck in Combat, and his military service in Iraq. Kachejian spoke to members of the Bloggers Briefing on May 22, 2012, about being personally affected by national defense budget cuts.
COL Kachejian shared the challenges his unit, the Gulf Region Division [GRD], faced because they were an entirely new team given only two months to staff, train and equip. The GDR’s “unbelievable mission” was to reconstruct the infrastructure of Iraq, a subject that Kachejian believes was very much ignored by the media, which only focused on more “newsworthy” topics like car bombs and death counts. This was one of Kachejian’s reasons for writing his book—to educate the American public. “Many good things were happening in Iraq that never made the news. A lot of Americans were actually surprised at how much got done,” he said of the reconstruction.
The title of Kachejian’s book came from his unit’s inability to attain proper military equipment and transportation. The unit was organized and deployed so quickly that there was virtually no equipment available. Although Kachejian and his men found an outside contractor to lease combat unit equipment and SUVs for transport, the SUVs left the soldiers completely vulnerable to enemy weapons and attacks. “There were cases were we had people actually hanging their personal body armor outside the vehicle, duct-taped to it, trying to provide some level of protection,” said Kachejian.
This lack of available equipment was due to the government’s massive cuts in the defense budget. Kachejian believes this detrimentally affected the military’s ability to rebuild Iraq. He believes America needs “to have a ready and relevant military”—a task that cannot be achieved by cutting critical funding.
Although the GRD unit lacked proper equipment and protection, they were able to adapt to their situations and learn many lessons along the way. Kachejian cites these adjustment periods as his main motivation for authoring the book: “What I don’t want to happen is those lessons to be lost.”
COL Kachejian felt it was necessary to capture these acquired lessons so that future generations refrain from making the same mistakes. Americans can only hope the federal government takes the same preventive measures after seeing the detrimental effects that cutting defense spending has on our military and their safety, exhibited throughout Kachejian’s memoir.
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