At the heart of that force must be a fully prepared, fully equipped, fully staffed, state-of-the-art military ready to face any adversary, anywhere. Four years ago, George Bush said that our troops lacked the support they needed. Four years ago, he promised them: 'Help is on the way.' He sent that message to the same military that had been built up in the 1990s and was soon to perform so brilliantly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Well, I say this today: George Bush can't have it both ways. He can't decry the military's readiness in 2000 and then take credit for its success in 2001, before he even passed his first defense budget. Now, in 2004, our armed forces are more extended than at any time in a generation -- and at this time, they are still waiting for help.
Twenty-five hundred of them are still waiting for medical care. Helicopter pilots have flown battlefield missions without the best available anti-missile systems. Civil Affairs personnel, almost all of them reservists, are stretched to the breaking point, building schools and hospitals. Unarmored Humvees roll toward the next perilous turn in the road. The 428th Transportation Company had to ask local businesses back home to donate the steel to armor their vehicles, and when this President heard about it, instead of saying, 'never again,' he said, 'good idea.' And tens of thousands of troops were deployed to Iraq without the most advanced bulletproof vests that can literally make the difference between life and death. "