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.