Monday, August 27, 2007

Memo to BG Mike Brogan

In response to Marine Brigadier-General Mike Brogan's comment that press coverage is inflaming insurgent interest and turning the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle into a 'symbolic target,' I have the following response:

BG Brown is forgetting one issue, namely that dead soldiers are the 'symbolic targets' that the insurgents are actually after. Getting the insurgents to concentrate their attention on the handful of MRAPs that will enter the arsenal over the next year will take some pressure off targeting the more plentiful up-armored HMMWV.

That will undoubtedly save lives and saving lives is the only reason why the public is allowing the Pentagon to grossly mismanage the MRAP program with few consequences. What he is really concerned about is looking bad when we drop $20 billion on a gas-guzzling monster of a wheeled transport that only offers a marginal advantage in protection.

In a sense, the MRAP is symbolic -- it is a symbol of the military's complete inability to recognize that peace-enforcement and peacekeeping have been very common military operations since the end of the Cold War. In order to make up for the two years we spent in Iraq without a cogent counterinsurgency manual or effective military strategy, they are dropping a huge wad of cash to field a weapons system at the 11th hour that isn't even really ready.

Don't get me wrong, I feel strongly that we should issue our troops with gear that will provide them with a generous amount of protection. My heart is always crushed when I see those poor wounded vets that come by the Pentagon every week.

I just think the Pentagon's acquisition strategy over the last six years has been to schizophrenically jump from one technology to the next in search of silver bullets. As a result, we let the insurgents set the technological tempo in Iraq, forcing the U.S. military to expend a premium of blood and treasure playing catch-up.

Why am I so incensed by this issue? Because I know that folks in the Army Secretariat periodically examined the issue of mine-protected vehicles going back to at least 2002. Instead of dusting off the concept in 2003 or 2004, the Pentagon blindly focused on IED jammers instead of simple armor issues.

But hey, I'm the crazy one, remember. Someone get me a straitjacket and a comfy padded room.


Galrahn said...

This MRAP thing is a mess, because it has been assigned priority over everything else, production of everything else will slow to a crawl (thus cost more) to build the MRAP.

I'm still collecting my info, but this may effect shipbuilding bigtime, and run up the cost for the DDG-1000 considerably creating the same steel problem the LCS ran into early.

Shutter said...

The paradox is that the US (and the UK lest we forget) are spending squillions on electronic kit, and MWRAP's to DEFEND against kit made in a back street garage for umpence.

What's the betting that culverts jammed with HE will blow one sky high soon ?

These guys are fighting for their country.

Robot Economist said...

These are both excellent points.

ELP said...

Great reading. Of course these are the same guys that thought taking a Humvee into an RPG rich/small arms rich environment was OK from the beginning, even if this was proved long ago to be a bad idea in Black Hawk Down Dog Day After noon when the ground convoy then, got shot to ribbons.

Robot Economist said...

ELP - You're exactly right.

The important question is how do we bring in future acquisition profressionals that are better educated and more agile than the current leadership?

They'd have an easier time attracting more productive civil servants if they were willing to reward talent over experience.