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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Case of the Military's Bumbly Trucks

Earlier this year we read that that the military has helicopters that do certain jobs better than the ones they now have nearly ready to put in operation. Trouble is, they aren't maneuverable enough and they carry so many troops at once that when they go down (because of this "minor" flaw or for any other reason!) they take more soldiers down with them than the ones we are now using.

Now we have the case of the bumbly trucks. You know, as in bumbleheads. The LA Times reported (Thursday, Dec. 27, page A1) that Gen. William S. Wallace, says the bumblers lack agility vital to urban warfare and the those things "should be of concern."

These These trucks cost billions but now, NOW, the military is having doubts about them--they're actually called MRAPs for "mine-resistant ambush-protected" -- because they aren't suited to the kind of warfare (if that's what we call it now) we are waging in Iraq.

So, 1500 monster trucks -- the military's answer to the Humvee brouhaha that occurred when we found our underpaid soldiers were driving them to their deaths for lack of armor -- will be delivered soon. Yes, it's taxpayers' money but to make it super personal, its your son's (or my grandson's) life if an unmaneuverable truck runs into trouble.

By the way, you should SEE the illustration of the Humvee next to this MRAP. The MRAP is so huge it could be a tank. One advantage is that the looks of it could scare the beejeebees out of someone bent on doing harm. The disadvantage, of course, is that we're trying to make friends with the populace. So this truck must be like--well a Halloween costume. And it doesn't look like a good fairy.

I dont know. But it seems as if the jerry-rigged armor the soldiers were installing on their Humvees just might have been a better solution. In any case, this solution doesn't seem to be the right one. Maybe they'll figure a way to use these giants effectively in some operations and not put them into action where they would be a detriment. We can only hope.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson wrote the foreword for Eric Dinyer's book of patriotic quotations, Support Our Troops, published by Andrews McMeel. Part of the proceeds for the book benefit Fisher House. Her chapbook of poetry won the Military Writers Society of America's award of excellence.

1 comment:

katieseyes said...

As an engineer, I can understand how inappropriate products get on the market -- and I can even understand how circumstances on the ground may be different from equipment testing sites. The problems that I see in Iraq and in general around the country is that folks believe it is a political issue rather than a practical problem needing attention.

Technology is not something that can be fixed with a quick "that shouldn't be, so let's put something else out there.' That's the kind of short term thinking that created this new issue -- if the humvees weren't doing the job and our young people were in danger because of the lack of armor, let's just send something ELSE out -- and of course, that something else has different problems -- that are just as deadly in the final analysis.
As with politics and business in general, we need to focus on the long term -- and make careful, considered decisions about all kinds of things -- from equipping the military to protecting our own infrastructure to dealing with terrorism.
An additional problem, as I see it, is that once we get in the 'react' mode -- which we have been in for years even BEFORE 9-11 -- it is hard to get OUT of it.
I am often amused by the "Support Our Troops" mantra because I don't know a soul who doesn't believe that our guys are doing everything that we have asked of them, that they are brave and principled, that they blend many acts of kindness with their other duties in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem isn't the military -- but in how we use, equip and provide for the military. It's not something where we need to point fingers at one administration or another -- it's been going on for a long, long time. It's not for lack of wanting to do the right thing. I believe it's culturally based though -- we have lost the art of deliberation. We feed on immediacy -- and decisions of the moment while necessary in many cases are the end result of not having planned properly in the first place.

Just my two cents worth.