Pentagon shuts MRAP production line

Pentagon shuts MRAP production line

The $47.7 billion era of the MRAP came to an official close Monday in what amounted to a retirement ceremony at the Pentagon for the production line of the lumbering vehicles that were rushed into Iraq and Afghanistan to protect troops from roadside bombs.

“For sure we’re still at war,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, “but MRAP production and fielding has ended.” “A new strategic era is dawning” in which the Pentagon projects that there will be little use for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle in a faster and lighter military, Carter said.

“We’re here to end an era in the history of the MRAP program and begin a new one,” Carter said.


MRAP oversight and management at the Defense Department was transitioning from the Joint Program Executive Office, which had focused on production, to the Services and Special Operations Command, which will mothball most of the fleet and look to sell as many as they can to allies.

The demand for more heavily-armored vehicles came from the field as casualties mounted for troops riding in flat-bottomed Humvees from attacks by “improvised explosive devices,” or roadside bombs – the biggest single killer of U.S. and allied troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The military initially responded with jammers to foil the triggering devices and up-armored Humvees, Carter said, but the enemy countered with “new triggers and bigger bombs to tear our vehicles apart.”

In 2007, prodded by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Pentagon’s often creaky acquisitions systems began a crash program to build and field MRAPs, and within 27 months more than 700 were deployed, Carter said.

Through September this year, a total of 27,740 MRAPs rolled off the assembly lines of seven manufacturers, including BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense and Navistar, and 12,726 remain in theater in Afghanistan, according to Defense Department figures. About 870 have been sold to foreign militaries and another 700 are on order for allies.

Five versions of the MRAP were produced, weighing from 13–28 tons, with the last being the M-ATV (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle) for use on rougher roads in Afghanistan. All the models featured the V-shaped underbody to disperse bomb blasts.

The cost for individual production models of the MRAP ranged from $535,000 to $600,000, but field models including spare parts and upgrades came to an average of $1.29 million, the Pentagon said.

Pentagon officials and military analysts have given various estimates on how many lives were saved by the MRAPs, but most put the range in the thousands.”

Vice President Joe Biden, who joined Carter at the ceremony in the Pentagon auditorium, recalled “getting considerable pushback on the floor” from Democrats and Republicans when he argued for the MRAP as a senior Democrat from Delaware in the Senate in 2007.

The opponents argued that a new land vehicle was expected in five years, and pouring money into the MRAPs would be a waste of funds, Biden said. He said he countered by quoting the then-Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway, as calling the MRAP “the highest moral imperative I have as Commandant.”

The funding was approved and since then “we’ve got a whole lot of men and women coming home in one piece. You saved thousands of lives,” Biden told the audience, many of whom worked in the MRAP program.

Carter said the transition from the MRAP program was “part of a larger transition” for the entire military under the strategic guidelines ordered up earlier this year by President Obama calling for lighter and smaller armed forces that would seek to avoid long-term ground wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last April, Army and Marine generals forecast to the House Armed Services Committee that the MRAPs would be phased out of future contingency planning.

Marine Lt. Gen. Richard Mills testified that “The Marine Corps has a little over 4,000 of them. We intend, as we come out of Afghanistan, to retain about 2,500.”

“Some of those will be put into a training status so that our Marines remain familiar with them, are able to maintain them and operate from them,” Mills said. “And some will be put into a status of bubble wrap, if you will, to be used if the need arises again for us to be able to use them given the terrain, given the threat, etc.”

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Let’s sum up.

The Pentagon failed to anticipate what should have been a fairly obvious requirement.

The use of IEDs against light vehicles by insurgents was already well recognized as early as Rhodesia in the 1970s. And it’s been a recurring problem ever since. The Israelis had trouble with insurgent IEDs in Lebanon in the ‘80s. The Russians were plagued by them in Chechnya in the ‘90s.

Then, when that tragically stupid lack of foresight started getting large numbers of American service personnel killed and maimed, Congress got pissed, and the Pentagon panicked.

They then promptly spent huge amounts of money on protective vehicles that were rushed through design and production. Those vehicles certainly saved lives — and bravo for that, it’s worth spending money on — but in terms of their long term durability and military utility, they’re garbage. Extremely costly garbage.

_Automobile Magazine_ sent an editor down range to observe these wonder wagons in the field. He reported back that as soon as he got there, he learned about a brand new mine protected vehicle that had been taken out of action by an obvious and sloppy production line error.

During a routine oil change at the battalion motor pool, the mechanics pulled an oil pan bolt. That bolt is supposed to be held on by a nut welded on the inside of the pan. The manufacturer back Stateside hadn’t bothered to enforce even elementary production quality control. The weld was bad, the nut fell off, and could not be put back. Thank you, United Auto Workers union.

The only way to fix this problem in the field, the magazine editor was told, was for the Army mechanics to order, ship in and install an entirely new power pack _in situ_. I’m not making this up. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Reflect for a moment upon the absolutely astronomical logistical cost required to priority-ship such heavy crate items from the USA to the Kunar Valley. Meanwhile, the vehicle itself sat sidelined for weeks. I would call it a comedy of errors, if it weren’t for the fact that this stuff gets troops killed, and costs taxpayers a mint. Nothing comedic about either.

People who know what they’re doing typically look at other people’s experiences, to try to capitalize on those others’ mistakes and avoid their failures.

In the case of the Israelis and the Russians, with their contemporaneous experience having vehicles and personnel chewed up by IEDs, what did both eventually end up doing?

They both changed course, greatly altered their infantry vehicle strategy, and invested money in new heavy tracked APCs such as the Namer and BTR-T.

The peanut gallery will at this point chorus, “but there are places which heavy APCs can’t go!”

Yeah, there sure are. And perhaps the idea should be to either stay out of those places, or to come up with different vehicle designs that make sense for them. Hopefully, vehicle designs whose utility to cost ratio, and long term durability, will be better than that of the overhasty MRAP bunch.

Bad idea since new reports say troops and data supports MRAPs and that JLTV would suffer as much as HUMVEEs in combat. Bad move by dimwits in the Pentagon and Congress. Overall the dod is too moving back the the Bradley and even in some cases the M-113 in other theaters outside of Afghanistan. Overall maybe the troop truck should be replaced in combat by the MRAP than worrying about APCs which do a fine job.

MRAPs have a place in the inventory and future missions. They’re too bulky and heavy to replace the HUMVEE, but they definitely have their place and a complete phase out is foolish.

What ever happen to lessons learned??? If the Gov’t was paying attention they surely can see that the Middle East is going to hell in a hand basket. If they think we won’t end up back there they are seriously being shortsighted. They need to continue to produce, at a reduced rate, at least one series of these MRAPS and continue the R&D to improve them. Some designs had some big issues specifically rollovers. The vehicle I use was the RG-33 model, which would rollover in an s turn maneuver if you were going over 40 MPH. My unit lost two vehicles because of this. Bottom line stockpile them and continue to improve them, because we will need them again and can’t afford to be caught with our pants down again!!

New VIP transports anyone?

Heaven save us from democrat administrations and their military cutting appointed minnions.

Maybe we should stay ot of the Middle East and let them kill each other. Other than a nuclear capable country, stay the hell out of their tribal/ religious wars.

It would drive up oil prices and make us drill more here.

Not sure of any upside to any of these arguments except that less of our children would get killed over in the sandbox.

To think that IEDs will go away and we can evolve to a lighter, faster military is a pipe dream that comes around every decade or two. Did Afghani forces do away with the RPG they adopted from the Soviets after the Soviets left? No! In fact it is now almost universally used by insurgent forces around the world. Why? Because it is cheap, simple, easy to use, learn, transport and produce. Will IEDs disappear in the years to come? Are they cheap, simple, easy to use, learn, transport and produce? Increasingly so.

It may be a good idea to look for better and hopefully cheaper methods of protecting our forces but anyone assuming the threat they were created for is going away is a fool.

Maybe they should donate some to the State Department for ambassador protection.

Yup this is why they just released a new TM for the demil of MRAPS.

I don’t mean to be cynical, but how often does equipment get retired only to be pulled back into the inventory again? Some of the old grand dame battleships got as far as firing off missiles in the first Gulf War. And wasn’t the B-52 supposed to have been replaced by now several times over, by the B-70, the B-1, and the current B-2? (Cont’d…)

… cont’d:
Don’t get me wrong; I’m most definitely not criticizing the move to go lighter. I mean, c’mon, a 28 ton truck is in no possible way going to be nimble nor agile. And I can’t imagine the amount of fuel needed to run those beasts. The military is cognizant of an important goal, and I think it’s laudable that they’re moving towards it. (Cont’d…)

… cont’d:
But at the same time, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s not impossible for a need to arise again in the future for such a vehicle as the MRAP. Looking back in history: Heavy armor was supposed to be obsolete as far back as the ‘80s in the face of man-portable antitank weaponry, air based platforms (tank killers like the US A-10), and the fact that the logistical tail needed for such divisions were immense. Plus there was that whole nuclear battlefield thing too. Regardless, those were supposed to be historical artifacts even then. Didn’t matter; the US sure as heck found legitimate use for such in the first and second Gulf wars. And it’s easy to predict that need will continue into the future. The lesson is that heavy armor won’t go away anytime soon. And I think that’ll apply to MRAPS too. Just because a use outside the current deployments cannot be envisioned doesn’t mean it won’t arise. History has taught us that the hard way.

Trouble with your theory about learning from others’ mistakes.….….each new ‘crop’ of administrators (military or political) have cultured their own ideas & support groups for those ideas. Thence, these wunderkind endeavor to re-invent the wheel deliberately. I believe this ‘methodology’ is expressly to ‘show them old fu—rs who’s boss now. Sad, even stupid.……but I’ve witnessed it time and again. So misadventures in procurement & development continue @ a rampant pace. All the while the casual fiscal observer can easily study those administrators glad-handing one another. Seen that too.

I have no idea what “data supports MRAPs” is supposed to mean.

M-113 is history; AMPV is the one new Army program you can bet won’t be cancelled.

You can’t replace a cargo carrier with a vehicle that DOESN’T CARRY CARGO. You can’t carry troops into battle in a vehicle that can’t go off-road and can’t even drive on most roads.

The historical solution is to not take trucks into combat. If you can’t keep the combat away from your trucks, the truck design is not the fundamental problem.

I was with you until you started pissing and moaning about the MRAP’s reliablity. Yes, it was rushed through design and implementation, and it shouldn’t have been. They should’ve known about the need based on your historical time line, and I’m surprised, shocked, and appalled that they’re even considering dropping it. The single example that you give for its lack of reliability is rediculous. It’s a great piece of equipment, which may have some design flaws, but these should be able to be cleared up easily enough. Wanting to call a vehicle a failure due to one shoddy spot weld on a single vehicle is rediculous and it makes me want to lump you into the same group as I’m putting all the politicians who want to mothball the MRAP.

Why oh why is TACOM contracting for a new MRAP Joint Logistics Integrator then??? https:\tacom.contracting.army.mil look under Warren major programs business opportunities. They just let a $4 billion contract to Mantech for contractor logistics support over in country (that “competitive” buy only took four years to award to Mantech —- they sent up a J&A to DA to sole source it to Mantech in November 2008 but DA kicked it back because it was for a T&M contract — what did TACOM do??? Let’s compete — it took four years, paid Booz-Allen contractor to write the Acquisution documentation — same one who is writing the “competitive” JLI documentation HA!!) –Great vehicle — what a crappy program office—-

Drew,

We don’t have the space here to list and discuss every shotty worksmanship. The guy gave just one example. If the production folks couldn’t even weld a simple nut on correctly, makes you wonder what else is jacked up thats more critical.

Heck, I bet the Presidents limo is more formidable then these MRAPS.

I bet there are few non-military vehicles in the world that beat the President’s limo for protection, but these MRAPS could be sold for bargain prices since the military is trying to get rid of them.

As a former member of the MRAP JLI in AF, I ask who of you have ever had a warfighter thank you for saving the life’s of his crew and his life? This was a normal occasion for the team that I worked with as we deprocessed, fielded, trained , maintained and provided battle damage repair services to any warfighter with an MRAP. Yes they were not perfect in design, but with time everything gets better and the MRAP is no exception. I worked on them from the beginning through the MATV and they all work great at saving life’s. One final thought, would you all be nay sayers about the MRAP if your husband, wife, son or daughter was in theater doing missions outside the wire on a daily basis? I think you would want the best vehicle available and right now that is an MRAP!!!!

If your going to write a story, don’t fill it with false info and baloney. Before you blame someone for quality control do your research and find out where the oil pan was produced as a component to be included in power pack assembly. Of course unless you were living down a rat hole, you should also remember it was the huge public outcry that pushed Congress to build these units. And the fact is good bad or indifferent, they save many a life. Hopefully, as the DOD draws away from the MRAPs, but not completely. They will slow down and look a little more closely at the new designs.

torquewrench, you are not a problem solver just a crybaby, get an air grinder or torch cut a hole in the oil pan take out the nut inside the pan, re-weld it to the part of the oil pan you removed, then weld the oil pan back up. 3hrs and 50 bucks in welding material you are done. Too easy. The MRAPs saved thousands of lives period. I am one of them, and by the way it saved my life “Twice”.

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