Friday, November 30, 2007

Why is the Marine Corps scaling back their order of MRAPs?

Let's just put this in the "I don't know what the hell to think about this" file right off the starting blocks. (Even though I have my cynical suspicions...)

Those who read this blog know that I have been pitching a mighty hissy-fit for two and a half years about going to war in jeeps.

Long story short: I'm against it.

Humvees aren't MRAP's. They are small-j jeeps. They are utility vehicles, built for scrambling across terrain quickly, and designed to be integral to supply lines. They are not designed to be troop carriers and they are not adequate for combat operations. They were never designed to be armored, and even when they are up-armored, the rear (where the gas tank is located) is exposed because the chassis can't handle the added weight of armoring the entire vehicle.

The bottom of a Hummer is flat, and absorbs the full impact of a mine or IED blast, and a four-pound land mine will take out the rear axle, and likely a couple of Soldiers or Marines as well.

Humvee's are decidedly ill-suited for use in urban warfare, like they are currently being used in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is why I greeted the news last summer that the DoD was going to be stepping up their purchases of MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles with somewhat mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was glad that the Soldiers and Marines I actually support and don't resent paying taxes for would be getting safer vehicles in which to patrol. After all, not a single American life has been lost in an MRAP. On the other hand, it pissed me off because I thought it was ultimately too little, too late. And I read it as a sure sign that they are setting up a decades long occupation.

Think about it: Four years on, when we should ought to be making tangible withdrawal plans, they are purchasing 3500 MRAPs a year? Yes, that pissed me off a tad.

And now - the Marines are scaling back their order by 1300 units, from 3700 to 2400 in the current fiscal year. I can't help but wonder, just what the hell is up with that?

Just last month, Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway said the Marine Corps has emerged as a "second land Army" and must buy heavy equipment, including the mine-resistant vehicles, for protection against IED's and ambushes in urban areas.

So what precipitated the change? Has the Marine Corps brass really decided that they want to "retain their expeditionary flavor" or is there something else afoot? Maybe politics? I'm cynical enough to believe that is possible.

The funding battle for Bush's Iraq misadventure is just getting started, and it's going to get a lot uglier.

Why don't you go ahead and bookmark this post now, because you might need it later.

Do not be surprised if, in the upcoming weeks, you start hearing a mantra that goes something like "our troops are being denied the vehicles that will keep them safe because the democrat-party controlled congress is playing politics with the war funding" - and I have no doubt you will - You can say "Oh - I have known for weeks that you lot were going to peddle this line of bullshit - and it is bullshit by the way - and this is why..."

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