Where has the MRAP gone?

For some time there has been news of lethal improvised explosive device (IED) blasts in Afghanistan, and attacks have increased in recent months.

According to figures published by the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), roadside bomb incidents hit a high of 736 last month. June was the fourth month in a row that such attacks have increased. By comparison, incidents during March clocked in at 361.

Afghanistan czar (and overall commander) Army Gen. Stanley McCrystal as well as Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen see the IED as the top threat to U.S. forces on the ground.

And with that, the “different” war that Afghanistan was believed to be now is becoming similar to Iraq. The counterinsurgency mantra that all subscribe to in Afghanistan was the rallying cry on the dark streets of Ramadi in the early days.

But we digress.

So where’re the MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected) vehicles? In 2007 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made MRAP a (read: the) Pentagon priority. The push was so ambitious that 9,500 MRAPs now are in Iraq and might stay due to the cost of moving them. After lawmakers treated the protective albeit unwieldy beast as the second coming and strongly “encouraged” the services to purchase the vehicles (in large quantities) one would think it would be MRAP to the rescue in the Afghan danger zone.

And it is — sort of. There are a reported 2,600 in the country. Another 5,244 have been contracted for more than $1 billion. (The HUMVEE costs less than 200,000 each.).

Leaders have waxed eloquent on how servicemembers are working to defeat the network (and they are), and most will agree this is the true way to defeat the IED (and it is). We are reasonably sure the JIEDDO did not have to change its models much between Iraq and Afghanistan. The principles are the same.

Until that network is defeated (and as long as people vote and we need jobs here in the U.S.) we will have MRAP. We will contract for expensive MRAPs. The U.S. will have to pay for MRAP, and Afghan foes like to see the U.S. go through money like water.

Let the monetary bloodletting (on both sides) begin.

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