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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel September 21, 2006

Senators urge Humvee replacement

Troops in Iraq need heavier vehicles, they say in letter to Army official

By Dan Benson

At the urging of a Cedarburg couple whose son was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq this summer, U.S. Sens. Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl have sent a letter to the Army's chief of staff urging that the Humvee be replaced in Iraq with a heavier vehicle.

Stephen L. Castner's son, Stephen W. Castner, 27, was killed July 24 in Tallil, Iraq, after the Humvee in which he was riding was hit by an improvised explosive device, or IED.

The letter from the senators is to be sent today to Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, asking him to request an emergency appropriation from Congress to replace Humvees with M1117 Guardian armored security vehicles.

"(Castner) makes several points about needing to move away from the (Humvee) vehicle and toward something designed explicitly to operate in a hostile environment," Feingold and Kohl, both Democrats, wrote in the letter. "Mr. Castner points to the M1117 Guardian ASV as a better solution to the problem of protecting convoys threatened by IED attack."

The Guardian is an armored, wheeled vehicle equipped with a turret and armament system designed to meet the security requirements of military police, according to the Web site GlobalSecurity.org.

Stephen L. Castner and his wife, Kay, have filed a Freedom of Information Act request in hopes of finding evidence from the Army backing their claim that Humvees are unsafe for use in convoys in Iraq.

Before his son's death, Stephen L. Castner raised questions about the training and equipment given to his son's unit before its deployment to Iraq.

U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) and Gov. Jim Doyle also have pressed the military for an investigation into Stephen W. Castner's death and the training and equipment given to his unit.


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