Hundreds of workers in the Quad Cities may soon be shifting their duties toward helping to better shield American troops overseas from deadly improvised explosive devices. Members of Iowa’s and Illinois’ congressional delegations are asking why the Rock Island Arsenal isn’t being tasked to provide upgraded armor plating needed on military vehicles.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the Arsenal’s workforce is at the ready. Harkin says "The U.S. Army is short about four-thousand up-armor kits, that means new armor kits for Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan. These are essential in protecting our troops from roadside bombs which account for an estimated 70-percent of American casualties in Iraq. It’s just unacceptable that we send our men and women to Iraq without all the necessary equipment."
Harkin joined with Senator Chuck Grassley and Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, as well as several of their colleagues from Illinois, in writing to the head of the Pentagon. Harkin says "We sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Gates asking how the Rock Island Arsenal can help meet the need. The Rock Island Arsenal has done this before, they know how to do it, they’ve got the production line ready to go. There’s no reason why we can’t move ahead and get the Rock Island Arsenal making these armor plates for the Humvees."
The military’s reported shortfall of four-thousand up-armor kits won’t be satisfied until July. Harkin says with five more brigades headed to Baghdad, it’s estimated two-thousand Humvees urgently need up-armoring.
Harkin says the Arsenal made the additional armor a few years ago, can do it again and "it’s unacceptable that they aren’t doing it." The Arsenal employs 64-hundred people and is located on a three-mile-long island in the Mississippi River, between Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Illinois.