Monday, September 24, 2007

The Day's MRAP News

As we've mentioned earlier, the MRAP has not been immune to criticism, some of the most biting of which can be found here:

But like all of the previous anti-IED programs, the MRAP effort will only add more expense to the losing effort in Iraq. While the MRAPs will provide additional protection to American soldiers on the ground, they will not solve the IED problem. Indeed, the deployment of the MRAPs exposes three interconnected points that continue to frustrate U.S. efforts in Iraq:

1. The IEDs have put the U.S. military in Iraq in a defensive posture. And militaries who play defense all the time don't win wars.

2. The MRAPs will dramatically increase the size of the already gigantic logistics "tail" that sustains the U.S. military in Iraq. The larger the tail, the more vulnerable the military becomes.

3. The new fleet of MRAPs won't make any difference in the overall casualty rate for U.S. soldiers. That's the opinion of a Defense Department analyst who has worked on the IED problem for several years and was recently in Iraq.

But those critiques aren't stopping some voices to call for more MRAPs. The Kansas City Star recently ran an editorial seemingly calling for the Pentagon to do everything it possibly could to increase production:

By December, defense officials hope manufacturers will be cranking out the new vehicles, called Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicles, at a rate of more than 1,300 per month. That means it will take months to meet the goal of trading all the Humvees in Iraq with safer vehicles.


Meanwhile, the Pentagon is still shifting the numbers it will request. First, the Army asked for 2,500 and the Marines requested 3,700.

After Gates said the number should be much higher, the Army said it would need 17,700. Then it backed away: The latest Army request is for 10,000, but because of the production bottleneck that goal can’t be met for some time to come.

Congress should act rapidly on the request, and determine whether there are feasible ways to boost production.

(Emphasis added)

But production bottlenecks might not be the only thing holding up deliveries. The appropriations process for the MRAP is causing friction between the White House and Congressional Democrats:

Even with [Appropriations Chair Rep. David] Obey's assurances, however, the short-term bill could become contentious later this week if other Democrats push to increase spending in some areas. The temporary measure will include funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Democrat John Murtha of Pennsylvania, chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. He said the temporary budget would include the $5.3 billion in additional spending for the Iraq war that Bush had recently requested for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, which are used to shield soldiers from roadside bombs.

(Emphasis added)

Sen. Joe Biden has introduced a bill that would increase MRAP spending next year to $23.6 billion, all of which may become part of the largest Iraq War spending budget to date.

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