Monday, January 22, 2007

Not serious about war, Part II

A month or so ago, I wrote about how the Future Tactical Truck (FTT) program shows that the Pentagon is not taking the war in Iraq seriously.

Now, we've got yet more evidence.

After nearly four years of war in Iraq, the Pentagon's effort to protect its troops against roadside bombs is in disarray, with soldiers and Marines having to swap access to scarce armored vehicles and the military unsure whether it has the money or industrial capacity to produce the safe vehicles it says the troops need....

Even if the Pentagon can find millions of dollars not currently budgeted, and even if it can find factories to produce the armored vehicles, most U.S. troops in Iraq will not have access to the best equipment available, as President Bush has often promised.

The Army acknowledged last week, for example, that it is still 22 percent short of the armored Humvees it needs in Iraq despite heated criticism in 2004 and 2005 over the lack of armored vehicles.

Army officials said it will be another eight months before that gap can be filled.

Wait, it gets better. Unable to actually protect the troops, the Army is putting a Band-aid on a gaping wound:

The Army is shipping 71,000 sets of fire-resistant uniforms to Iraq so that soldiers will have a better chance of surviving the fires that often consume Humvees that hit roadside bombs.

It's not just armored Humvees. The military plans to largely replace Humvees with V-shaped vehicles call MPVs -- a class of armored car that has been produced and used for years by other countries that are very good at surviving explosions. We're not talking about having to develop a new vehicle from scratch; we're talking about buying or modifying an existing design.

Even so, the first MPVs aren't expected to reach Iraq until March 2008.

The Pentagon says it is doing all it can. Apparently "all it can" means that even four years into this fight we haven't ramped up development, production or purchasing of vehicles everyone knows we need. Just like with the FTT, we're still on a peacetime development cycle.

As I said a month ago, if this mentality had prevailed in World War II, we would have fought the whole thing with Grant tanks and 37mm antitank guns -- and lost.

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