MRAP — Pander du Jour No More

The writers who report on Defense have announced the Marine Corps and now the Army will roll back their orders for God’s Gift to improvised explosive device (IED) protection, the IED panacea — the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle.

It’s about time.

When the beast first was ordered — and it is an unwieldy monster of armor, with immense girth and reduced visibility — it seemed effective against an actual detonation of an explosive device, which is nice, but it does nothing to go after the source of the device — a strategy that would eliminate the need for MRAP in the first place. (Of course, such a strategy has been in effect for several months now.) One of our favorite Army generals, when queried, told us MRAP was superb against a specific threat, but he seemed troubled at its downside, including its limited maneuverability.

It seems odd that the Marine Corps out-ordered the Army on this thing earlier this year. Did planners — leaders — know something others didn’t? Was it an effort to impress lawmakers? Was it a move to pander to influencers here in the homeland — people who vote, call their representatives, and have the yea-or-nay power over their 17-year-olds following the Pied Pipers of the Marine Corps? Maybe. It seems the Corps’ new commandant might see things differently, having slashed the MRAP order of 3,700 by more than a third.

Apparently the Army did not up its order until pressured by DoD, when the projected number shot up past 17,000. Though numbers fluctuate, the latest Army projection is around 10,000 vehicles. We guess that number will continue downward, but it’s just a guess.

Protecting people in a combat environment is obvious, but as one general noted, you can wrap people in all the armor you want, but you can only do so much against a determined threat. One source interviewed more than a year ago, could not emphasize the importance of going after the threat — and losing the armor. He spoke from experience in some the most dangerous neighborhoods in Iraq.
MRAP, like body armor, seems to have been more like a reaction to outside pressure. What will the services cave on next?

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