NY Times on Procurement Issues for Armored Vehicles to Iraq
The New York Times ran a Sunday article re: getting adequate armored vehicles to the soldiers in Iraq.
Vehicles covered include the M1114 Up-Armored HMMWV, the M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle that’s popular with MPs and has performed well in limited Iraq deployments, the Cougar HEV armored truck, and a large armored bus called the Rhino Runner that carried SecDef Rumsfeld during his Iraq trip.
It was a surprisingly fair article that included cost data and the varying tactical and procurement considerations involved. It also made many good points regarding: how the procurement system works (or doesn’t).
The M1117, which costs about 3-4 times as much as an up-armored HMMWV but is much more survivable, was the victim of Congressional cuts just before the war and is just now beginning to hit its production stride again because the company had to undo production line shutdowns and rehire skilled talent.
The Rhino Runner armored bus has exceptional explosives resistance, and is already used by some security contractors in Iraq. When Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld visited Iraq, that’s what he rode in. Military adoption to date is nil, however – hampered by the fact that Labcock was reportedly unwilling to let the Department of Defense test their $250,000 vehicle by blowing one up on the company’s dime, with no promise of future orders. This strikes us as a reasonable attitude.
Issues of intellectual property, production capacity, and other related items including yo-yoing production requests (a complaint echoed by shipbuilding firms DID has covered) are also touched upon as problems for the various programs.
The conclusion that it will take work by Congress, the Executive, and the DoD to streamline and improve these issues seems inescapable.
Meanwhile, on June 23/05, AM General L.L.C. in South Bend, IN received a $19.6 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for purchase and installation of more armor kits for the M1151 High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles. Work will be performed in South Bend, IN and is expected to be complete by Jan. 31, 2006. This was a sole source contract initiated on July 17, 2000. The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, MI issued the contract (DAAE07-01-C-S001).
So, will all of these measures and new equipment purchases help? Somewhat, yes.
In the final analysis, armor matters but it isn’t the only factor involved in force protection or even IED protection. As this Lessons Learned from a serving officer notes, there are units that ride around in Humvees without doors and do very well due to their situational awareness.
As always, the answer will be a combination of an improved vehicle mix, improved doctrine, and effective training.