Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MRAP and the Navy

Is there a connection between MRAP and the Navy? Yes, unquestionably in that it should force us to think about who is making decisions, why, and in what context. For background,
The Army is looking to slash as much as $10 billion from its procurement accounts to pay for a larger fleet of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, setting off a round of budget drills that could throw its modernization goals into chaos and trigger a wave of program terminations and delays, according to Defense Department officials.

In a bid to find between $8 billion and $10 billion for a down payment on as many as 15,000 additional MRAP vehicles requested by commanders in Iraq, the Army is considering options for financing a sizable portion of the new armored fleet program within its base budget, according to sources familiar with closely held spending deliberations.
More than any other service, the Army has learned hard lessons in blood and treasure about the fundamentals of warfare - as have the Canadians and others. In spite of that, when reading about the MRAP program, a shocking example of the worst, cancerous peace-time, beltway, calcified thinking came through.
Until now, the quick-moving MRAP program was focused on procuring 7,774 vehicles -- 2,500 of which were for the Army -- largely through supplemental appropriations. Because MRAP is not a program of record and was regarded as a requirement unique to needs in Iraq, it was funded outside the service’s base budget.
"Unique to needs in Iraq?" Shipmate, what kind of wars do you think we are most likely to fight over the next couple of decades? Mmmm. Let's see. Useful in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Haiti, Gulf War I, East Timor, Panama, Grenada....do we need to do more? The slaughter of our men in Somalia fighting in soft skinned vehicles told us everything we needed to know about the need for armored cars somewhere between a Hummers and a Bradley. Armies all over the world need and use them. Examples back to Vietnam are there. South Africa - and so on. Just because the world doesn't want to fight you the way you want to fight them is no reason to ignore the truth.

People with that train of thought should have been fired about 2004. They listen to contractors from companies they want to work for when they retire, and believe PPT briefs, but won't take the time to read the AARs coming out of theater. The Navy version of these people think a ship the size of a Pocket Battleship can sneak up in the Littorals and not be seen. The ones who threw away our Riverine forces in the 90's and starve them now. They think you don't need redundancy in Damage Control teams. They think Sailors can exist at sea for long periods on nothing but microwave food and be effective. They think a lot of things - not all of which will last the first encounter with the enemy. Buy the MRAP and keep them in inventory. We and the next two generations will need them. Sure, they aren't for everything, but neither is the Hummer. Good give and take discussion here. We have Cougars, Buffaloes, Golans, all sorts of goodies. Nice for EOD, but useful for lost of other things as well. Let's not take all day. Get to work.

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