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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

    Location: The mouth of being

    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Force Protection Industries


    Well it looks like the first spasm of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle orders has been launched, with the Pentagon inking a – get this - $481 million contract for 1,000 vehicles this week.

    That’s a half a billion dollars for 300 of the 15-ton Cougar Cat-1 (MRAP-MRUV) vehicles and 700 of the 16-ton Cat-2 (MRAP-JEERV) behemoths - all going to Force Protection Industries, Inc.

    Excuse me for being the skunk at the picnic, but I’m skeptical of the value of these purchases.

    The MRAP is not a tactical vehicle. It is a specialized armored truck designed primarily for protecting EOD units and their gear from explosions while diffusing bombs or mines. The Marine Corps’ top gear buyer, Brig. Gen. Mike Brogan, admitted last month the MRAP was viewed by the Corps as a “boutique vehicle” for certain specialties. They asked for a limited quantity of these vehicles in the 2008 budget and 2007 wartime funding request based on that view.

    Then what happened? You guessed it, Congress stepped in. After browbeating every service and DoD official they could over the meager number of MRAPs in the budget, Army and Marine officials snapped to and revamped their request to satisfy lawmakers’ new infatuation.

    Remember again: the MRAPs are not tactical vehicles. Of course, neither is a Humvee (it was designed as a logistics vehicle), but it’s a lot easier to use as a tactical vehicle with current modifications than the MRAP in an urban counterinsurgency. The giant, heavy MRAP vehicle is ill-suited to the urban fight. You might as well drive around the city in a Bradley fighting vehicle.

    I know I’ll probably get a lot of crap for this, but I think the services recognize that the MRAP isn't what they need but they’re responding to the congressional love affair with the vehicle because they have to. The push is forcing the services to buy MRAPs from nine different manufacturers, and though military officials insist they’re all similar mechanically, you know there are going to be widgets and nick-knacks that are different, requiring their own logistics chain.




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