According to a report released by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday it appears that the military ignored reports of dangerous conditions in the showers at a military facility in Iraq.
In February of 2007 the contracting firm of Kellogg, Brown and Root found “several safety issues concerning the improper grounding of electrical devices. In July of 2007 Sgt. Justin Hummer filled out a work order that reported “Pipes have voltage”. He told investigators that he sometimes had to use a wooden stick to turn off the water.
But nothing was done to repair the problem and in January 2008 Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, a 24 year old Green Beret was electrocuted in the same showers.
As you might imagine we have had the predictable response with the Army blaming the contractors for failing to fix the problem and the contractors blaming the Army for not properly informing them of the problems.
According to Senator Robert Casey the problem persists in many Army bases in Iraq with soldiers being repeatedly shocked. It is hardly surprising that facilities in Iraq might have these problems, in many cases they are using facilities built during the Saddam Hussein era and it is possible they didn’t build them up to code.
In addition some of the newer complexes were built on the fly and in the midst of chaos so there could be problems with that as well. I won’t go into the many reports of outright incompetence on the part of some of these builders.
So there are plenty of possible reasons for the problem.
Frankly at this point I don’t give a (expletive deleted) who is to blame for the incident. That is something for the courts to figure out. But what we need now is for the problem to be solved and solved NOW.
Our troops are over there fighting in a war of dubious wisdom but I think everyone on both sides of that debate would agree that our men and women should not have to wear protective clothing to take a shower.
We need to have real leadership here to resolve this problem. We don’t need investigative committees, we don’t need partisan attacks, we don’t need people trying to score election year points.
We need to protect our troops and we need to protect them NOW.
If the military can’t manage that then it is time to bring everyone home where they can take a voltage free shower.