As last MRAP heads home, is an era over?

As last MRAP heads home, is an era over?

As these words are written, the Army’s last Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicle to serve in Iraq is making its way west across the Mediterranean aboard a cargo vessel called the Ocean Crescent. According to DoD, the MRAP will go on display at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum at Fort Hood, Texas “and represent the end of an era.”

The MRAP era isn’t completely over, of course, as the vehicles are still serving in Afghanistan and probably will continue there for some time. But if everything goes as well as hoped, the Army won’t need to buy large numbers of them, and it certainly won’t need to move mountains to get them downrange yesterday.

If it is the “end of an era,” there are reasons to celebrate its passing. There’s a case to be made that the MRAP represents the worst kind of defense procurement — begun as a crash effort well after the start of the war, necessitated by battlefield developments that commanders never anticipated, and requiring huge outlays in order to compensate. Then, having spent some $44 billion on its fleet, DoD finds little use for it after the war, so new vehicles go right into storage. The services wind up spending billions more on an entirely new fleet of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles.


This does not take into account the thousands of lives the MRAP fleet saved in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor does it give the Army and Marine Corps credit for the vehicle-building lessons they’ll likely incorporate into their JLTVs. (We often hear that no defense program is truly a failure since it always informs what comes after; “it’s all sausage — it all goes somewhere” as writers say.) The MRAP experience happened, it was what it was, and the military-industrial-congressional complex has absorbed it.

Daniel Goure of the Lexington Institute, however, draws an even bigger — and bleaker — lesson from the end of the MRAP. He wrote that not only does the return of the last vehicle mark the end of its own chapter in the history of ground vehicles, it is the end of America’s ability to be an “arsenal of democracy.” Goure argues the MRAP saga is a success story for government and industry, then goes on to ask:

Is it likely that we will ever be able to do this again? I think not. This was our last hurrah as the arsenal of democracy under any conceivable scenario short of full mobilization for a long conflict with a peer competitor. Given long-term budget and demographic projections, the reduced state of the U.S. manufacturing base, availability of natural resources and the changing nature of military technology, our ability to repeat the success story of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in the future is questionable at best. Britain almost bankrupted itself fighting World War One. It had to approach the United States hat in hand to keep its war effort going in the early years of World War Two. With a deficit now surpassing 100 percent of gross domestic product, where will the United States find the resources to spend on the next version of the MRAP program? Who will finance our next defense surge?

In fact, as proposed defense spending cuts take effect over the next decade, we are in danger of losing technological and manufacturing advantages in critical areas relevant to even less stressful security challenges. The Army plans to mothball the nation’s sole tank production facility for four years starting in fiscal 2013. The Navy is considering delaying the start of the next nuclear-powered aircraft carriers by two years. In both cases, these decisions could result in a serious loss of skilled workers that will cost lots of money to recover. The last nuclear engineer with actual hands-on experience designing and building a new nuclear weapon retired a long time ago. In a way, this may be a good thing, but is going to be a real problem if we ever again are in need of new nuclear weapons. I could give another dozen or two examples of emerging problem areas.

In short, Austerity America will kill, if it hasn’t killed already, the know-how and factories that made the MRAP story possible, Goure argues. Without a better outlook for the defense industry, the U.S. may never again be able to overmatch its opponents with superior numbers of vehicles or weapons, he warns, or respond quickly to urgent needs like the roadside bomb epidemic.

Maybe — but if the core lesson of Iraq and Afghanistan is “Don’t fight more wars like Iraq and Afghanistan,” as many people believe, this might not be too big of a problem. And in the event of “full mobilization for a long conflict with a peer competitor,” there’d probably be a whole new era of accomplishments and mistakes.

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Yea its the end of the world because the defense contractors cant bear not to get their regular increase in the defense budget. Who cares what these hucksters think, in fact since their objective is the opposite from what is best for America we should measure progress in how much they scream that the sky is falling.

As for the military it is yet again pretending that they can cherry pick the wars they fight. We should let them know that next time they are going into battle with what they have. If they waste decades of money on irrelevant equipment and expect the nation to bail them out, they are going to take a lot of casualties.

Itfunk, you might want to remember that the DoD doesn’t decide which wars we fight — the president does. And the enemy gets to decide what kind of war it will be (usually after the war has started). The decision to not spend money on counterinsurgency vehicles was made long before 9/11. Would you have been happy as a taxpayer if we spent billions on armored humvees or MRAPS in the 1990s along with everything else when there was no anticipated need? We needed a tracked manuever force for the beginning of OIF and a wheeled counterinsurgency force later on. If you want to hold the DoD responsible for being prepared for whatever type of war the enemy decides to fight, then be prepared to fork over the cash to have fleets of equipment standing by for that particular type of war.

The next time ITFunk can go to war in his volkswagen microbus and my children will stay home and watch him on reality tv! :)

Overall MRAPs may be here longer after larger defense cuts slow JLTV and it may be useful as a medium truck to move cargo around the battle field.

MRAPs don’t have much in the way of cargo space. They’re meant to carry troops. The one shown in the picture is an RG-31 I believe which carries 8 troops with no external storage. In fact, the only MRAP I’m aware of that has any dedicated external storage is the MATV which has enough room for about a dozen duffel bags. I think the MRAP fleet will stay in active service a dozen at a time as training sets if we decide to refresh our COIN skills every now and then. The EOD guys and engineers will keep the big ones around for counter-IED training. The rest will probably stay in storage. Cargo is and will continue to be moved around the battlefield by the FMTV/PLS family of vehicles.

As usual you have everything backwards.

The vehicle shown in the picture above is a Caiman MRAP built by BAE Systems.

Back when we had a government that followed the Constitution, Congress declared wars and the president, as the chief executive, led the war effort. Today presidents recognize no limits to their power or authority and they do as they wish, to whomever they wish. As a recent column stated, “In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta pointedly refused to recognize that Congress, not the president, has the constitutional authority to commit the United States military to war overseas. Panetta provoked outrage among conservatives by claiming that the UN Security Council or NATO could authorize military intervention abroad. However, less attention was paid to the fact that Panetta’s formulation cut Congress out of this matter entirely – a logical and predictable extension of the Bush administration’s claim that the president, in his role as Grand and Glorious Decider, has plenary authority to wage war wherever he chooses, against whatever target he selects.” Is this a great country or what?

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[Itfunk, you might want to remember that the DoD doesn’t decide which wars we fight — the president does.]

But, but, but, but — don’t you think there is residual goodness in armoring up the tail ? MP units, company level trains, direct support maintenance at least a slice of the brigade support area could use these vehicles. Do ambulances all need to be tracked ? NO ! Why can’t the Army think enough to manage its assets efficiently ?

You don’t want a formal declaration of war because that implies that you go all out to wipe out the enemy as in WW2. After Pearl Harbor we had the element of time to build up our arsenal, plus the fact that we were gearing up our military years earlier. The Essex class carriers were already being built and most of our planes had been designed before the war (the Corsair flew in 1940 and the B-17 in the mid-30’s) for example. Weapons were obviously much simpler to mass produce and we had the industrial capacity to do it (couldn’t cast armor plate for real warships if we tried). These days we don’t fight wars like we used to and we have to react quickly in many cases. Declarations of war are obsolete — you fight now or die.

We are declining as a nation. This is THE key issue. If we can’t make stuff, we won’t be able to win wars. Which guarantees we will be attacked and we will lose. For God’s sake, US went to the moon in eight years in the 1960s. Now it would take thirty years and we still couldn’t do it. JSF (Joint Strike Failure) alone will kill the Air Force. We need a civilian economy to provide the tax base so we can have a military, so we can avoid being eaten by the sharks in the sea. I think Bob Lutz (GM) is correct, MBAs have killed us.

We did. The cabs of our FMTVs and PLS trucks are all armored. Our support platoons use MRAPs as escorts for those armored cargo trucks.

I thought about that when I wrote that. I know what the Constitution says, but what I wrote is unfortunately the truth of the matter in the present day. When Congress decides to reassert its Constitutional duties, I’ll be more than happy to amend that statement.

Problem was we didn’t need to invade Iraq. We did, and the ppl who took us there made millions. Im not against wars, im against dumb wars. We paid for this war with borrowed Chicom loans. Yet, one political party insists on giving the wealthy tax breaks..again. Wtf?

Who are the people who made millions by taking us to war? Please be specific and show evidence.

2 copper coated zinc discs say that these will end up in local law enforement in time for the provoked uprising and subsequent martial law.

You laid it out! They will never understand the procurement world, but good try!.

But MRAP was not new or even innovative it was basically off the shelf technology developed in southern Africa in the 1970’s. The bigger question is why did it take the US so long to adopt it?

Need and numbers. When OIF started, there were only 400 armored humvees in the fleet and we started buying those around 1990. Bosnia and Kosovo were low-threat missions requiring relatively small numbers of troops and we didn’t anticipate doing an operation like that anytime soon. When the Iraqi insurgency started we figured we could make do by hanging armor on an existing design. When we finally figured out the armored humvee hit its limits and we’d be in Iraq for awhile they started a crash program to buy several different types of MRAPs by the thousands. Existing designs (like South Africa’s) probably didn’t meet the survival requirements since the IEDs were so big, nor could they be built in the numbers required. As with engineering and economics, you can have things cheap, fast, and well made — pick two.

actually, one of Black Hawk Down’s lesson is if you send troops for Peace Keeping Operation in countries full of AK-47s, MRAP is quite ideal for that.

And USA did send troops to Bosnia, and later Kosovo during 1990s. Were there MRAP developed and mass-produced then, OIF1 and OIF2 or OIF3 could be much different from what had happened. At least there were no national guard trooper to ask Mr Rumsfeld about hilly-billy armor during his Iraq visit(maybe it was in Kuwait).

During OIF1, one airborne brigade was sent into Iraq with soldiers in trucks to reinforce 3ID’s brigade surrounding Iraqi city along Euphrates. IF they had MRAPs, they were glad to ride them, I guess.

Whose paying for the afghanistan adventure?

Why is it 47% pay NOTHING?

“the Bush administration’s claim that the president, in his role as Grand and Glorious Decider, has plenary authority to wage war wherever he chooses,” Source? Congress OK’d action in Afganistan and Iraq.

While you’re at it post where Obama got authority from Congress for the Libya op?

I’m an equal opportunity basher.

No, we negotiated peace treaties before in declared wars e.g. 1812, Mexican-American, Spanish-American & WWI). Declaring war doesn’t neccesarily equal “wiping out” the enemy though we should be prepared to go that far if we want to engage in war.

I suggest the military put a high price tag on them and sell them. All the draft dodgers and those who have that problem with the back, you know that big yellow strip, like gw bush and dic cheney, will rush out to buy them and prevent all the storage fees. i know there are hundreds of sorry rich folks will just have to have them to sport their large ego and testosterone. Otherwise they will just do like the real old soldiers just fade away in some desert. FIC, 100% DAV Austin, TX
Frank Bowers

I specifically didn’t mention support platoons or supply transport vehicles, not because armoring the cab is all you might want to do, armoring the payload of these platforms seems problematic — irrespective of a potentially significant IED threat. If you wanna save lives, bring back the MULE and its kin.

The difference between the African version and the current models is the difference between a Pinto and a Volvo.

Its It reminded me when the last gun truck came home the eve of destruction it save lives at what cost and took so long but thanks to the truckyies the big 5 tons did damage to the enemies

Back in 2003 a friend was killed down range and plan jane humvee and to bad we had re event the wheel to get to this point here what I wrote, I read your story on the gun trucks Its really sad that I wrote my letter back in 2003 sounding this alarm that we need the gun trucks to protect the troops and convoy’s and i was told i was nuts and laugh at. I want to also ad that that this not the first time in History that there was a company just to protect convoy’s .

Here my letter i sent to to the DOD

////////2003

To whom it may concern:

This letter is in regard to the mounting casualty rate among convoy troops in Iraq. There will be more deaths if this issue is not taken seriously. I believe an unnecessary and fatal delay by the military to supply life saving Up Armored kits to the mechanized troops is due to red tape and finances.

During the Gulf War, there was one model of Hummvee that saved many lives named the Up Armored Hummvee. This model had 360 degrees of steel around the vehical. There were also kits call Up Armored kits for 5 ton and 2 1/2 ton trucks made buy ARMOR INTEGRATION Labs–they were the best kits available.

During the Somalia Operation, troops encountered land mines and RPGs thus leading the army to scramble yet again to reinvent the wheel by building new and improved hardening kits. Test after test has resulted in add-on crew protection for a variety of tactical vechicles.

Currently in 2003, where are these kits? As you know, troops in convoys are soft-shelled targets. These convoys should have Up Armored Hummvees at all times, not the soft-shelled ones you see at your local guard unit. Up Armored Hummvees and kits are not getting there fast enough for our troops’ protection.

I have spoken with two civilian and one military official. Under the condition of anonymity they informed me that these kits and the technology are available, but due to red tape and lack of money, these kits are not getting to Iraq. Every convoy unit must have Up Armored kits or there will be more unnecessary deaths among troops. Our troops must have the best and not be sacrificed because of bureaucracy and lack of funds.

I’m asking people to look into this. Do your history and make your voice heard.

TOMMY MASCH
WAPPINGER FALLS NY 12590

What a jerk. YOU should go fight the war, douche.

Itfunk,

From a retired disabled Vet…Learn how the Government and Military work before you make comments and go itfunk yourself.

Don’t really give a fuck about an mrap…let me know when the last military personnel has come home.

Uh, the last soldiers left Iraq three months ago and those rare soft shelled HMMWV’s that existed after 2006 were limited to movement on the FOB.

I think these are excerpts from a letter he wrote sometime in 2003.

if you have to ask that then you have not been paying attention for the last what 12 years now!!!

Haliburton, KBR just to name a few and other defense companies and exec..

We have only one poltical party to thank for the pending decline of our military. Hopefully there will e a change in November 2012 and we all must work to make the change happen.

Just wanna point out that we still have some of the MRAPs we used in Iraq, with us here in Kuwait. Just a note. Media needs to stop using absolutes like “All” and “last”. Just like when the news reports that “all troops are home” when an entire BRIGADE was still in Kuwait!

Top 1% pay about 40% of the taxes. Top 10% pay about 73% of taxes. 49% pay NO TAXES AT ALL. Yeah the Buffet Rules.…does our fibber In chief know Buffet owes ONE BILLION IN BACK TAXES ? He and his lawyers having been fighting it for years. Yet fibber and his buddy Buffet are saying almost daily the rich don’t pay their fair share. Nation in the decline.…you ain’t seen nothing yet with fiber in for 5 more.

Didn’t you hear — fibber in chief changed NASA’s primary mission. Yeah — To make Muslims feel good about themselves. Don’t forget their monumental accomplishments in math and science according to fibber. If you think I am joking, I’m not. Happened last year. So if you think NASA is going to accomplish anything significant again in space in the next 5 or 6 years, think again. Shuttle program has been mothballed. They are not even maintaining these shuttles for an emergency, like the one last year. We had to depend on our friends and comrades the Russkies for a ride into space.

Bush talked for more than a year about going into Iraq. The world knew we were going in especially Sadam. Now we out of there finally and got a model democracy to brag about. This country will not be capable of large scale ops like Iraq and Afghanistan again. The author is quite right. Fibber in chief got 5 more years to stab our allies in the back, bow to our enemies and assure our most dangerous enemy (the russkies) that when he does get re-elected, he will have more “flexibility”. we are losing the technological edge day. Stealth chopper goes down in Bin Ladin’s compound and the Russkies and Chinese are invited over the next day to get the technology. Iran got one o f our most advanced drones.…they won’t give it back either. The world used to run to the US for help, Where does the US run to? Israel going into Iran to do our job, because we can’t.

War of 1812? let’s get back to 2012. The most powerful country in the history of mankind is coming out of 10 years of war with some backward, sheep fornicating cave dwellers, and we can’t even say we won. Afganistan is going back to taliban / terrorist control while we are slowly withdrawing. Iraq is becoming more destabilized, course the media won’t cover the story since it makes fibber in chief look bad.

If you are hoping for a change in Nov„here’s a head up. Fibber In chief is in for five more. The deck is stacked with the lying media, unions, big money up against the good guys, Americans. Just look at all the things fibber has said and done, and he hasn’t been booted out of office yet. He tells the russkies, our most serious threat, that once he gets re-elected he will have more flexibility. Yeah more flexibility to accommodate our enemies and back stab our allies. military in decline? The country is in decline. Fibber can only run on racial tension, class warfare, attacking the rich, destroying capitalism, 49% don’t have to pay taxes, more people on govt assistance than ever before, etc. it is a long long list of accomplishments. Yet he will still win.…

Your right Lance! I worked for BAE as a n elect tech in 08/09 on the R33 strip the seats out and it would make a good cargo hauler…

Justinian,
In the late 70’s the militart tried to get this technology and then president carter forbad the US military from acquiring or using the technology as it was developed by the SA militay.

Why do you all choose to ignore the fact that the MRAP was not American technology, it was a 1970s era South African design called the Casspir, which was rebuilt in the USA when the American installed government of the NEW South Africa refused to sell the Casspir to the “neo-colonialist” United States.

Remember the first of the vehichles were built in South Africa during the sanctions era, the USA can remain viable but it must become creative!

Since contractors do everything above operator maintenenace I can understand why contractors would promote the use of top heavy, rollover prone, primarily road bound vehicles as armored cargo carriers (because cargo needs to be under armor).

Makes all the sense in the world!

Agree if we follow the current withdrawl plan irrespective of conditions on the ground but my point remains. Declaring war doesn’t equal having to wipe out the enemy but we should be prepared to if necessary. Don’t be afraid of history. The Ranger Creed dates back before 1812, it still works.

Excellent point!

Are you really that stupid, you know who, what and where, and the party responsible for this entire mess without an option out or any way to pay for it. If you don’t I feel sorry for you and all the people that depend on you.

All I want to know if all you nuts have your tin hats ready to go. Listen, times have changed, with the technology we have now the only ground troups we need are the ones coming in to clean up. The Navy and the Air Force can sit a 100 or more miles out and completely, and truly pin point their strikes. The only ones that want ground troups are you gunho John Wayne types. You’re time is over, get with the program, create weapons that are sensible and do much damage if wanted.

The best post of the day, thanks Wayne!

Such is not the nature of war. Firepower alone cannot win battles, much less win wars. As much as our political class would like to lay back and pop off precision strikes with impunity at the foe, only by fire combined with maneuver can one reap the victory. People who say otherwise are amateurs, dangerous dilettantes who know nothing of armed conflict. Even the efficacy of weapons of mass destruction is unproven…and indiscriminate attacks on civilian population and infrastructure is a violation of international law. One persons tactical target is another person’s strategic target, because it is his or her hometown…

“Technology will make the next war a cake walk.”

I’m pretty sure that’s been said about every “next war” since the invention of the long bow. It’s certainly been said about every “next war” with regards to air power since WWII. It hasn’t happened yet and it will probably never happen.

As a relatively modestly paid worker in the military industrial complex, I too worry that America has flogged off too much of its manufacturing capacity and put too many of its better minds out to pasture. But, I worked on the MRAP programs. Contrary to what this article suggests, I’d argue that the MRAP proved that we can still innovate and make stuff right here in the U.S. Keep in mind that not only did we use the MRAP vehicles ourselves. We SOLD a bunch of them to other countries.

if we are going to blow money {and obvisily we are} id rather do it on weapons instead of all these welfare dead beats! im not talking about people in need but people who abuse.some of these domestic goverment programs are useless up to an including bailouts.part of this goverments core responsibility is to protect us and our interests from threats forein and domestic.what a waste it would be to let soilders in harms way and give some rich landowner $200000.00 to put his land in a set aside program so that the bunny rabbits could have cover from hawks thats paid every year and i know people {not just one} that are collecting that kinda money. PROTECT THE BUNNYS LET THE SOILDERS TAKE CASUALTIES!! YOURE AN IDIOT!!!! no body wants waste in the military or these defense contractors. I do fear this nation is losing its edge and it will be lost at home but the military folks are still the finest

Itfunk, how much of a return on our tax money do all the social programs return? I bet the social security money given illegal and legal immigrants who haven’t contributed to those programs returned a bunch of money for their handout. How about all the billions of dollars spent on fly by night State and Federal job work programs that never really produce any results because most of the people learn how to make a nice living sucking money from all the other BS social programs. Look to California as a good example of that. At least the MRAP and most defense procurement programs are built by Americans in America and the Defense industry does provide returns on government (IE our tax money) investments.

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