A few years ago the big controversy was the necessity to build new armored HUMVEES for the military, or convert older ones by “up-armoring.” Critics of the Defense Department badgered the military for not doing it before invading Iraq, and after discovering the need, for not reacting sooner.
Then-Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld’s response was,” You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you might want.” Be it ever so. Americans have been unprepared for just about every war we’ve gotten into
Now there’s a new version of this age-old problem coming out of hostilities in Afghanistan.
The U. S. military’s newest vehicle type is called the EM-rap, or MRAP, which stands for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected. It’s a giant armored personnel carrier, not unlike a garbage truck in size and dimensions, designed with an armored V-shaped hull to minimize injuries from IEDs — Improvised Explosive Devices — in the current Middle Eastern wars. MRAPs were quickly developed by the Army, Marines and defense contractors when even armored HUMVEES proved inadequate for occupant protection from IEDs.
Now the action has shifted from the cities, deserts and palm groves of Iraq to the rugged mountainous territory of Afghanistan, and once again our latest military equipment has developed an Achilles Heel. Word coming back from our fighting forces is that when the IED-resistant MRAPS go off-road into the rough Afghan terrain, they have suffered from bent axles and broken springs, as well as limited off-road capability. (more…)