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American Forces Press Service

Vice Chairman Answers Soldiers' Questions

By Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, June 21, 2007 – The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division here yesterday, thanking them for their service and telling them better equipment is on the way.

Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani met with the soldiers to find out if they had the tools needed to do their job and to answer questions about issues in Iraq.

After having breakfast with the soldiers, Giambastiani started off by thanking them for what they do every day.

“You’re doing incredibly important work and, as you can imagine, the world is watching exactly what’s going on here,” he said. “They’re watching literally every minute of the day. … It’s not just bad folks watching, but all the folks back home who want to know how you’re doing.”

In addition to being there to thank them, the admiral said, he wanted to see if the troops had the right equipment to help them be successful.

One of the issues the admiral was asked about was the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicle. Giambastiani, who led a May trip by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., to observe MRAP testing, said the vehicles were on the way to the theater as quickly as they could be procured. He said the vehicles will come via air at first, then, when production increases, by a 27-day shipping process.

The admiral also addressed a question from a soldier who was concerned the MRAP might simply go to the lowest bidder.

“I sign the military requirements for MRAP,” Giambastiani said. “It doesn’t say anything in there about going to the cheapest bidder. It says you have to pass certain tests.”

Giambastiani also cautioned that the vehicle is not an end-all solution: “I think the human eyeball and, to be frank with you, the day-to-day patrolling soldier is still the most effective weapon” against insurgents.

The admiral said the Defense Department is working on various other projects, to include providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance techniques, unmanned aerial vehicles and manned aircraft to go after targets, track bomb makers and interdict weapons delivery.

Giambastiani said the department also is procuring a number of 106-foot towers to be used for persistent surveillance. The towers, which have a generator and can be towed by a 5-ton truck, provide the capability of using infrared to “look out” for the enemy, he said.

The admiral also talked about translation software that is currently being tested that will allow users to speak English into a handheld device and get Arabic translation.

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Staff public affairs office.)

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