Twisted Metal

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Drudge has the email in which Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Edward Lee Pitts brags about having helped set up the scrap-metal question Specialist Wilson put to Secretary Rumsfeld on Tuesday, after reporters were barred from asking Rumsfeld their own questions. I suspect acolytes of the Dear Leader and his Wise Men will seize on this story as another Ratheresque display of media bias; I've even got a hunch that somebody will characterize this incident as "The Pitts!"

Pitts has been working energetically on the scrap metal story, and I think his convening with Wilson showed resourcefulness. Wilson decided without any coercion to ask the Secretary of Defense the stumper question. And the many soldiers who applauded the question make it harder for the increasingly shameless Bush apologists to dismiss this as another put-up job by the liberal media (though of course, they will dismiss it as just that).

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  1. Is there any actual hard evidence as to what’s causing the lack of armor? From an economic standpoint I can see how Rumsfeld’s claim could be true — the “armor market” is experiencing a short-term spike in demand that producers may not feel merits expanded production facilities. Has an independent attempt been made to confirm or deny the claim, or is armor production data classified?

  2. I’m less interested in the questions asked, which were perfectly valid, but on how this new information will be played up by the press. Yesterday “Rumsfeld faces tough questions from troops” was the 40pt banner headlines. How many outlets will follow-up with this new info remains to be seen (to CNN’s credit they’ve been pushing it on Headline News).

  3. Tim,

    Are the Bush apologists making excuses for the lack of armor for light vehicles such as Hum-Vees?

    I think you’re misreading the reaction. Check out the milblogs. There is concern about armor for light vehicles.

    Over at NRO they have posted a few emails from people who claim to be within the industry (defense contracting) addressing the very issue.

    It might be helpful in defending your position if you were to provide examples of the “increasingly shameless Bush apologists”.

  4. It’s either declare Wilson some sort of defeatist traitor, or some simple-minded lug who was temporary dazed into asking Rumsfeld an unpleasant question by some fancy talking media guy. I imagine we’ll go with the latter. (Urg. Haven’t we filled our quota on “liberal bias” blogwars this year?)

    Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) — Armor Holdings Inc., the sole supplier of protective plates for the Humvee military vehicles used in Iraq, said it could increase output by as much as 22 percent per month with no investment and is awaiting an order from the Army.

    http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000006&sid=aMGdbQCSwiRg&refer=home

  5. I suspect acolytes of the Dear Leader and his Wise Men will seize on this story as another Ratheresque display of media bias; I’ve even got a hunch that somebody will characterize this incident as “The Pitts!”

    Thoreau is posting stories to the front page now?

  6. Brian links an important story above, with several relevant numbers.

    ” Jacksonville, Florida-based Armor Holdings last month told the Army it could add armor to as many as 550 of the trucks a month, up from 450 vehicles now, Robert Mecredy, president of the company’s aerospace and defense group said in a telephone interview today.”

    ” “We’re prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month,” Mecredy said in the interview. “I’ve told the customer that and I stand ready to do that.””

    “Armor Holdings has already boosted output from 60 vehicles a month a year ago, said Mecredy, 58.”

    60 to 450/month is an increase of 650% in production in the past year.

    50 to 100/month is an increase of 11 to 22% from current levels.

    Also note, ” Production of the armor needs to be coordinated with output of the actual trucks by AM General LLC of South Bend, Indiana, Mecredy said. AM General spokesman Lee Woodward also said that truck output could also be increased.

    “If they ordered more trucks, we’d build more trucks,” Woodward said. “We’re not close to capacity. It might take some time to ramp up but we can do it.” ”

    While the armoring can increase more it has been increasing. The bottleneck doesn’t seem to be at the armoring level though, as it appears they armor the specially prepared vehicle. The bottleneck is in the truck production and it “might take some time.”

    ” Woodward declined to provide exact details on production capacity.”

    So while the 22% (11-22% actually) potential increase in armoring is notable, it doesn’t really get to the heart of the issue. For this we must look at vehicle production which apparently could be increased if requested, though with an indeterminant delay.

    What is the delay time on this? Don’t know

    ” Tesia William, a spokeswoman for the Army Materiel Command, which handles the armored Humvee program, had no immediate comment on the status of orders.”

    Has the Army requested a continued increase? Don’t know

    What we do know is that this has been the average monthly increase over the past year…

    60(1 + X)^12=450

    X=0.183 or 18.3%

    So production has increased roughly an average of 18% per month, each month over the past twelve and now the armoring company tells us it can increase another 11-22%, while the truck company tells us it could increase but would take an unknown amount of time.

    Now in the real world it seems likely that production increased more early on and is starting to plateau, but not quite yet. But honestly, I don’t know since I’ve never built HumVees or armored them. Do they need to hire more people? Get more space? Get more materials? Don’t know

    Anybody have any insight into the pieces of info we are missing here? Just curious

    Maybe the govt should take over the production facilities and run things themselves, I’m sure that would be a hell of a lot more efficient. (just kidding. Oh never mind, they only get that joke on the libertarian sites).

  7. I went searching for more info and found another company apparently involved.

    In the Bloomberg article we have Robert Mecredy speaking for Jax, FL based Armor Holdings listed as sole supplier of the armor plating. Then we have Lee Woodward speaking for AM General LLC in South Bend that produces the humvees.

    In this article we get the following.
    http://www.indystar.com/articles/7/201105-8807-010.html

    ‘The Indiana manufacturer of Humvees for the military and the Ohio company that adds armor to them are not running near production capacity and are making all that the Pentagon has requested, spokesmen for both companies said.
    “If they call and say, ‘You know, we really want more,’ we’ll get it done,” said Lee Woodward, a spokesman for AM General, the South Bend company that makes Humvees at its Mishawaka plant.
    At O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, the Ohio firm that turns Humvees into fully armored vehicles, spokesman Michael Fox said it, too, can provide more if the government wants them.
    Bayh said the companies could increase production of armored Humvees from 450 a month to 550 by February.
    But, he said, the Ohio plant needs government funds to increase capacity beyond that.
    “I will push for more money” for the plant, Bayh said. “Lives are at stake. Limbs are at stake.”‘
    So now we have the armor being added by a third company (unless merely a subsidiary of the Jax company that produces the armor, though even then it may be a third site necessary for production of the final product).

    We also have a rough time frame if everyone is on the same page, with Sen. Bayh telling us the same increase the armor producing company could start immediately could be met for the total product by February.

    In addition to seeing the same production bottleneck in AM General (that will take two months to fix), we also see the production ceiling in the armor attaching company, 550, breaking which will take govt funds (assumingly beyond the amount they are currently paid).

    Then there’s this visit to the AM General plant in Ohio earlier this week.
    http://www.wndu.com/news/022003/news_18685.php

    “Indiana Senator Evan Bayh today toured the plant that makes Humvees for the U.S. Military. While Bayh has always been a strong ally of AM General, he is now in a stronger position to steer business to the company.

    Bayh says, ?More jobs at AM General?
    This was Sen. Bayh?s first visit since he became a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. ?I can’t make promises or guarantees, but I can tell you we have a seat at the table now. I’m going to be pounding that table. I’m going to be raising my voice, in terms of more employment, more jobs, right here at AM General,? says Sen. Bayh.

    Right now, 2,500 people work at AM General. Employment is the highest it’s been in 12 years. Many of those jobs are directly linked to defense spending. James Armour of AM General says, ?There are four committees in Congress that must approve defense spending but the committee Sen. Bayh is on now, is the most important committee in that effort.?”

  8. Sorry for the nappy quotes, and that should have been Sen Bayh’s visit to the Indiana plant in my comments (since he is sort of a senator from indiana and all) sorry.

  9. Oops, late and checking the wrong page, that article i last posted of Sen Bayh’s trip to the AM General plant was actually from Feb 2003. If you went to the page you already know that, but if you didn’t, you missed this gem:

    “While much of world attention is now focused on Iraq, Sen. Bayh downplayed U.N. resistance to a U.S. lead invasion. Sen. Bayh says, ?A majority of the countries in the world will support us in this action, if it comes to that. It’s unfortunate the French and Germans do not, but at the end of the day we have to do what’s necessary to protect ourselves and other peaceful people from someone like Saddam Hussein.?”

    This isn’t the first instance of Bayh pushing for more equipment for the military.
    http://bayh.senate.gov/releases/2002/07/31JULY02pr.html

    ‘Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Evan Bayh today announced that a Senate committee has approved his request for $65 million for the U.S. Military to purchase an additional 500 High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), which are produced by AM General in South Bend. The need for increased HMMWV production will give security to those whose livelihoods depend on AM General.
    “The increased production of the HMMWV is great news for Hoosier workers in South Bend,” Bayh said. “It gives local residents increased job security as demand for the HMMWV goes up.”
    At least $15 million of the total amount will be directed to the National Guard and Army Reserves for their HMMWV needs. The additional HMMWVs will significantly increase National Guard and Army Reserve readiness to perform homeland security and worldwide missions in support of America’s war against terrorism.
    The production of the vehicles will also provide for possible job creation at AM General.
    “We must make certain that those who stand ready to fight the war against terrorism are properly trained using the right equipment,” Bayh said. “This also has the added benefit of providing work that is vital to the local economy.”‘

    And here we see that these requests for increased production are nothing new. From Sept 2003
    http://www.thetimesonline.com/articles/2003/09/25/business/business/deb14ea4690266cb86256dab0075b976.txt

    “The northern Indiana company that is the sole producer of the military Humvee is slated for an increase in orders if Congress approves President Bush’s $87 billion emergency request for Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Bush’s request includes $177 million for 747 “up-armored” Humvees which would be produced at AM General Corp., of South Bend, according to Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind.”

    “Bush’s emergency request for $177 million would be in addition to an annual defense appropriation of $312 million for 3,500 Humvees which appears to be headed for approval by both houses of Congress.”

  10. Finally found the jackpot. There’s to much to quote, but it’s got production numbers, senate appropriations, requests for more armor, and military feet dragging.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2004/040507-army-humvees.htm

  11. Is this Pitts guy an impartial reporter of news, ya figure, or is he something else?

  12. “Pitts has been working energetically on the scrap metal story, and I think his convening with Wilson showed resourcefulness. Wilson decided without any coercion to ask the Secretary of Defense the stumper question.”

    How do you know what Wilson decided on his own?

    The fact is that all the press reports on this story had ommitted any mention of a journalist prompting the solider to ask the question he did.

    The whole story should be reported and the public can decide for themselves what, if any implications there are in the reporter’s involvement.

  13. I suppose the pointing out that armoring transport is not especially effective and is very expensive makes me one of the increasingly shameless Bush apologists, but there it is.

    You are armoring the cab only. You aren’t armoring exposed gas tanks, you aren’t armoring the storage in the rear that holds munitions, you aren’t armoring the wheels, you aren’t armoring the glass in the cab sufficient to stop anything larger than a hand gun bullet. You aren’t armoring the engine block. The

    Take any grunt from any conflict in history, and grant him access to the guy with the checkbook. I’m willing to bet that he REALLY wants to know why every military dollar isn’t being spent increasing his armor. What planners have to look at is casualties per engagement balanced against more gas, more offensive capability, increased troop pay, food, blah blah blah.

  14. My problem with this story is Drudge himself. Our local yak station carries his talk show, and if there was ever a “Bush apologist” it’s him.

    He was on a roll the other day expounding how “everybody’s a reporter” with regard to why Judith Miller may be jailed for not revealing her source on a story she did not write about Robert Novak’s outing of an undercover CIA agent. His point being that nobody would ever be prosecuted for anything if source confidentiality were guaranteed for journalists. As if the roll of reporter or journalist could not be objectively defined.

    That slowly twisted into a rant about why selective prosecution in this case to benefit the administration was justified. I never could stand the slimey so-and-so anyway. He’s worse on radio.

  15. Mr. Martin:

    Exactly what sort of coercion do you think the reporter used on the soldier?

    And btw, local news interviewed his family and ex-wife, they say this is an issue the other soldiers in the unit wanted asked about and that soldier volunteered.

    The father said if he didn’t want the question answered, he wouldn’t have asked it.

  16. mp,

    Clearly the reporter had the soldier in a headlock when he was asking the question. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Rush Limbauh has it right. This Godless, liberal, ‘merika hating, reporter must have brainwashed or threated the soldier that asked the question since no patriotic ‘merikan soldier would ever doubt their fearless leaders. Also since the question was planted by a Godless, liberal, ‘merika hating reporter we can ignore it and the hundreds of cheers that it brought from the soldiers present.

  18. It was a good question. Whether or not a reporter wanted someone to ask the question is immaterial to the answer and only deflects from the important issues.

  19. I don’t consider myself a ‘Bush apologist’ and I don’t have any problem with the question or really that it was a ‘plant’ by a reporter. It’s a legitimate question that deserves an answer.

    But of course, when the military introduces an improved version of *any* new piece of equipment (helmet, rifle, radio, night vision goggles, body armor, GPS), it is obviously the case that not *every* soldier can be upgraded at once. The realities of cost and production schedules make that impossible. But that means that at any given time, many soldiers will necessarily be operating with equipment that is less than the ‘very best available’, less than state-of-the-art. Which I believe was the gist of Rumsfeld’s statement that an army has to fight with what it’s got.

    But it does seem to be clear that the most MSM’s interest in it is as a club to beat Rumsfeld and Bush with–that is to say, they seem not all that interested in digging into the the questions of production capacity, effectiveness of the armor, funding, tradeoffs, etc. Or at least, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of witholding judgement until the answers are uncovered.

    I also have the sense that the MSM’s portrayal of the event has been biased — that is to say, that the implication has been that Rumsfeld was faced with a room ful of PO’ed troops grilling him with tough questions and not liking the answers. Whereas, in fact, it seems to be the case that Rumsfeld was very well received by the troops present.

  20. “Mr. Martin:

    Exactly what sort of coercion do you think the reporter used on the soldier?

    And btw, local news interviewed his family and ex-wife, they say this is an issue the other soldiers in the unit wanted asked about and that soldier volunteered.

    The father said if he didn’t want the question answered, he wouldn’t have asked it.”

    I don’t know whether he was “coerced” or not – and neither does Cavanaugh who categorically stated that he wasn’t.

    The reporter had some sort of involvement in getting the soldier to speak up. All the initial press reports that I saw made it appear that this soldier decided all on his own to ask this question and made no mention of any reporter speaking to him at all about it.

    All I’m saying is that the press should have reported the facts about this reporter asking the soldier to ask the question as part of the overall story and then the public could draw their own conclusions about the implications (if any) of it.

    The press has a habit of deleting any facts that they think might detract from the story template they want to present. Their job is to report the facts not screen the facts to fit their predetermined idea of what the story should be.

  21. You’re right Gilbert. I think the press should interview all the soldiers who asked questions and asked them if they thought them up themselves or if someone else helped them come up with something to ask. That is what the American public really needs to know.

    How does the fact that many people shared the same question, including soldiers and reporters who couldn’t ask Rumsfeld that question, have an bearing on Rumsfeld’s response?

  22. I don’t disagree with you about the press generally having a predetermined story that they want to tell and then finding facts to fit it, but I find the whole focus on the reporter in this instance to be a smokescreen that detracts from what’s more interesting: why our troops’ light vehicles lack armor. Criticize the press for not digging more thoroughly into that rather than focussing on something insignificant.

  23. You know, I can understand why limited resources, mobility constraints, etc. might make it infeasible to give Wilson the armor that he wants.

    But I still think that it’s a damn good question. A question can be good even if the correct answer isn’t the one that the questioner was hoping for.

    And what really needs to be investigated about the reporter? Is it scandalous to say to somebody “Hey, here’s a question I’d like answered. If you go talk to that guy, could you ask it?” The person receiving this request is under no obligation to ask the question. If he does so, and if his colleagues cheer him, that would suggest that the question was on a lot of people’s minds and deserves an answer.

    I guess that makes me one of those people who’s just looking for any club to use to beat the administration.

  24. The sranders about armor make me very angry! It’s a ronery job being the reader and making prans for war, and I don’t rike being tord that I didn’t pran properry!

  25. Who says the whole focus is on the reporter?

    Whether that aspect of the story is “insignificant” or not is a matter of opinion.

    I’d rather have the info and make that judgement for myself rather than the press – or the posters here – screening that out for me.

    As for the substance of the lack of armor issue, I think Rumsfeld’s response was OK. War is an uncertain thing and the need for all the equipment/material needed to counter some tactics used by the enemy can’t always be planned for on the front end. The military is trying to adjust to the situation and provide the armored vehicles.

    I dismiss most of the carping about it by the talking heads in the media and the politicians as just a bunch of Monday morning quarterbacking. Those characters have never proven any ability to manage anything themselves or correctly anticipate or predict the way anything would happen in the future.

    Most of the leftists who are trying to seize this as a club to bash Rumsfeld and/or the Bush administration with have been advocates of cutting and gutting the military budget for years. None of them have any credibility with me.

  26. This may double post. I apologize if it does.

    I don’t think there is anything especially wrong with asking the question. People should be able to ask whatever they want.

    The question is of the same caliber as the one in which a displaced factory worker asks why Bush didn’t protect his job. It immediately plays as a gotcha moment in the press, but upon reflection, the answer to the question is obvious.

  27. “You go to war with the army you’ve got, not the army you’d like to have.”

    Except that planning for this war started a year and a half before the first columns rolled through the border, the war itself was elective, the timing of the war was elective, and the use of lightly-armoured vehicles to replace tanks and APCs is the heart of Rumsfeld’s military doctrines, the efficacy of which he intended to demonstrate in the Iraq war. This was exactly the army Rumsfeld wanted, and the use of under-armored vehicles was part of the plan all along.

    These concerns were voiced from the very beginning, but Rumsfeld and the rest of the administration applied Gilbert’s logic – some of the people making that case are libruls, so we don’t have to consider what they have to say on the merits – and as usual, nobody could tell these arrogant pricks anything. And now 200 combat deaths – based on the 1/5 estimate reported on CNN last night – have occured because Rumsfeld decided he knew so much more about how this war was going to play out than the people who actually, you know, know something about fighting wars.

    But what really amazes me is how the reporter’s mind control beam can not only make a soldier earnestly and passionately talk about an issue he really doesn’t care about, but can also cause a whole auditorium of other soldiers to roar like the crowd at a football stadium once they hear it.

  28. And who exactly is supposed to be “screening” the reporter’s role from the public? The first media outlet to hear about it – the one that received the email from the reported in question – published it, and every news outlet in the country immediately picked it up.

    Apparently, believing the issue of underarmored vehicles is important, despite the involvement of the reporter in getting the question posed to Rumsfield, counts as some kind of liberal media oppression. I don’t get it.

    One thing I do get, as a public official who occasionally has to stand up in front of angry groups of citizens, is that Rumsfeld is a pussy. Did you see his expression and body language during the Q&A, or in the press event in India? Like Bush at the first debate – as if hearing an unflattering opinion causes him some kind of mental trauma.

  29. “These concerns were voiced from the very beginning, but Rumsfeld and the rest of the administration applied Gilbert’s logic – some of the people making that case are libruls, so we don’t have to consider what they have to say on the merits – and as usual, nobody could tell these arrogant pricks anything. And now 200 combat deaths – based on the 1/5 estimate reported on CNN last night – have occured because Rumsfeld decided he knew so much more about how this war was going to play out than the people who actually, you know, know something about fighting wars.”

    Bullshit.

    The “libruls” didn’t make any case for anything from the very beginning and there’s never been a damn one of them who’s included in ANY group that actually “knows something” about fighting wars.

    All I hear from them was a bunch of deafitist squawing just they did before the first Gulf war (which they were also wrong about).

    “One thing I do get, as a public official who occasionally has to stand up in front of angry groups of citizens, is that Rumsfeld is a pussy”

    A pussy?

    LOL

    I expect he could whip your ass any day of the week.

  30. The lack of up-armored humvees had been an issue for years before the troops went into Iraq in 2003. It has been an even bigger issue since the fall of the regime. The fact that the media hasn’t done much reporting on it doesn’t alter the fact that this is a MAJOR issue with the troops and is known from the bottom to the top of the chain of command.

    The response from Rumsfeld was unacceptable since he is in charge and the continuation of the lack of armor problem is, in effect, his fault. It was and is his repsonsibility along with major ground commanders such as Tommy Franks to put the screws to the procurement people and get something done. They knew the boots on the ground needed this from day one but are still sitting on their asses while lives could be saved.

    For those who would like some more detailed info on this from a military point of view (both in country and historical), I suggest you take a look at sftt.org.

  31. joe-

    In all fairness to Rumsfeld, remember that his use of light and fast forces was incredibly effective in taking down a conventional army.

    The problem is that this conflict has consisted of 2 stages: The stage where we fight a conventional army and can use speed to our advantage, and the stage where our troops are threatened by guerrillas who might strike from any place at any time, and so being prepared to withstand attack is just as important as being able to attack quickly.

    Fast and light makes sense when you know where they are and want to seize the advantage. Heavy and protected makes sense when you’re stucking waiting for them to ambush because you don’t know where they are. Our military should be prepared for both.

    Also, as to reporting on the role of the reporter: By all means, the more information the better (which is one reason why I don’t care if Rummy is peppered with tough questions). But I look at this and I ask myself what could possibly be interesting about the reporter. I mean, whatever the circumstances that prompted the guy to ask the question, the fact is that when he asked it a lot of other soldiers seemed to think it was a valid question.

    That doesn’t mean that the tradeoff between armor and speed should always favor armor, or that a trade-off between armor and other items (constrained by limited budgets) should always favor armor. But I see nothing wrong with them asking about it. It’s a valid question to ask, regardless of who instigated it.

    The only thing that might come of this is that the reporter tried to get the question asked to circumvent tight controls on information. To which I say GOOD!

  32. “The lack of up-armored humvees had been an issue for years before the troops went into Iraq in 2003”

    Really.

    And just who exactly, amongst all the self-appointed military expert talking heads was specifically calling for a big increase in production of armored humvees BEFORE 2003 or specifically saying that the lack thereof was going to be a big problem in the Iraq war?

  33. The beginning of this thread says:
    I suspect acolytes of the Dear Leader and his Wise Men will seize on this story as another Ratheresque display of media bias; I’ve even got a hunch that somebody will characterize this incident as “The Pitts!”

    Josh replies:
    Thoreau is posting stories to the front page now?

    Didn’t you hear? I’m the new science correspondent. Ron Bailey is out the door. But since I’m a physicist I’m not so interested in all that stuff about GM food and global warming. I’ll be writing about the adjustable parameters of the Standard Model and how they affect your life. Oh, and the science of marijuana and the rheology of ice cream! ;->

    (And yes, I’m just kidding.)

  34. Once more Gil, but this time with FEELING.

    thoreau, “In all fairness to Rumsfeld, remember that his use of light and fast forces was incredibly effective in taking down a conventional army.”

    I agree – the drive from Kuwait to Baghdad and Tikrit was not only incredibly effective, but actually had remarkably low casualties. A heavier, slower, better armored force probably would have gotten more people killed despite the better protection, because they would have spent more time meeting the enemy at his front, rather than his rear.

    The problem is that that is the only kind of war Rumsfeld prepared for. He didn’t deliberately send unarmored vehicles to patrol a country overrun with guerillas – he just assumed them away. The force sent there wasn’t ready to prevent a guerilla insurgency from forming, or to defeat one if it arose, because the people who planned for this war just assumed that Ahmed Chalabi would quickly come to power and establish order, and there would be only slight, sporatic resistance once the main battle was won.

    The really frustrating thing is, this isn’t Monday-morning quarterbacking. From the State Department’s “Future of Iraq Project” to John Kerry’s speech on the Senate floor when he voted to authorize force to General Shinseki to General Clark, there was widespread understanding about how this was likely to go, made available to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld months before the war began. Their response was criminally negligent.

  35. Their response was criminally negligent.

    In all fairness, John Kerry would be much worse ;->

    Why, you ask? Standard Libertoid Dogma #7623, that’s why!

  36. Gilbert,

    Yes, really.

    “And just who exactly, amongst all the self-appointed military expert talking heads was specifically calling for a big increase in production of armored humvees BEFORE 2003 or specifically saying that the lack thereof was going to be a big problem in the Iraq war?”

    Did I mention any self-appointed military expert talking heads? No.

    Did I mention anyone “specifically saying that the lack thereof was going to be a big problem in the Iraq war?” No, because much of my awareness of the issue was before the Iraq war was a glint in the eyes of Donald Rumsfeld and his ideological pals.

    FYI, my take on this comes from the following:

    — Military and ex-military people I know (officers and enlisted).
    — Reading after-action reports (e.g. Mogadishu).
    — Military white papers.
    — My son. He has to ride around in the damn things.

    As I stated in my post, you can get some info on this at sftt.org. I think they have a special report on it now.

  37. thoreau and joe:

    “In all fairness to Rumsfeld, remember that his use of light and fast forces was incredibly effective in taking down a conventional army.”

    Just to clarify: The primary US Army force that went from Kuwait to Baghdad and on was the 3rd Infantry Division. It has a lot of heavy armor and is considered to be “heavy” in military parlance. The Rangers, 101st and 82nd are examples of “light.” But yes, it was fast!

  38. Just to clarify: The primary US Army force that went from Kuwait to Baghdad and on was the 3rd Infantry Division. It has a lot of heavy armor and is considered to be “heavy” in military parlance. The Rangers, 101st and 82nd are examples of “light.” But yes, it was fast!

    Could that be one of the explanations for why the Humvees weren’t up-armored to begin with? The initial plans were for a short war followed by a short period of cleaning up the remaining insurgents. It ended up being a short war followed by a long period of cleaning up insurgents. From your description it sounds like Humvees primarily came under fire during the second part.

    According to the referenced articles, a year ago (i.e., a few months after Iraq surrendered) the armor kits were being produced at the rate of 60 a month. Now they’re being produced at 450 a month. That change is consistent with the DoD recognizing that the Humvees were going to be facing heavier fire than previously expected.

    If it is true that the producer could be producing 500 or 550 a month instead I would be interested in learning why the order hasn’t come in — is there a bottleneck further up the pipeline? I have a hard time believing it is a money issue.

  39. “The really frustrating thing is, this isn’t Monday-morning quarterbacking. From the State Department’s “Future of Iraq Project” to John Kerry’s speech on the Senate floor when he voted to authorize force to General Shinseki to General Clark, there was widespread understanding about how this was likely to go, made available to Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld months before the war began. Their response was criminally negligent.”

    It is monday morning quarterbacking, and it is not at all clear that this has gone badly compared to any realistic estimate made for casualties in the scenario with higher presence.
    The convenient thing about arguing against currently policy is that you get to assume that more bodies and better armor wouldn’t just mean more targets to be set on fire in an ambush that achieved mobility kills on the first and last vehicles in a heavier convoy deployed with a high presence mentality.

    For everyone remotely capable of separating your dislike for the decision to go to Iraq (or your dislike for GWB), ask yourself how many casualties we are taking compared to any reasonable standard. We aren’t losing a lot of troops. There is a lot of dogma going around. Some of it comes from Rummy and some of it comes at him.

    I am not saying that it is clear that RMA is successful in an occupation, but in the blogosphere at large, there is a lot of fantasy spinning about how much better things could realistically be.

  40. Dan,

    I have a hard time believing it is a money issue.

    Why is that? The Pentagon (and the Congress) are well known for giving short shrift to issueslike these in favor of their more pressing concerns like pork barrel spending and making sure the next whiz-bang weapons system is funded.

  41. Jason Ligon,

    We appear to be “losing” less troops (if by losing you mean dying) more because of better medical care, body armor, etc. than anything.

  42. Dan,

    “It ended up being a short war followed by a long period of cleaning up insurgents. From your description it sounds like Humvees primarily came under fire during the second part.”

    I would agree with that. In the first part of the war, the spearhead of the attack was mainly with armor (tanks, Bradleys) and air assets. The second (and current) part of the war is in effect a classic guerilla war. Armor is insufficient in ability and/or numbers for the common use of the Humvee in Iraq: convoy duty and patrolling.

    “If it is true that the producer could be producing 500 or 550 a month instead I would be interested in learning why the order hasn’t come in — is there a bottleneck further up the pipeline? I have a hard time believing it is a money issue.”

    I don’t think it’s a money issue at all. I’ve heard all kinds of reasons but the one that makes the most sense to me (at the current time) is procurement problems. By problems, I mean bureaucracy within the DoD and the military. Too much thinking about the big toys and forgetting about your number one asset: the soldier. I think that Rumsfeld should have made the armor issue a number one priority a year ago and as Captain Picard says, “make it so.”

    There are other more systematic problems in the military (especially the army) that go much further back that have resulted in problems like the armor issue: leadership (i.e. ticket-punchers), training (crappy or lack thereof), political correctness, etc.. But that’s another subject for another day.

  43. The Pentagon (and the Congress) are well known for giving short shrift to issueslike these in favor of their more pressing concerns like pork barrel spending and making sure the next whiz-bang weapons system is funded

    Yeah, but Armor Holdings Incorporated is based in Jacksonville, Florida. That’s Republican territory, so it can’t be a pork problem — everyone in the Republican Party from Bush on down had reason to want to send money there, especially earlier this year when Bush and Kerry were fighting over Florida’s electoral votes and Kerry was attacking Bush on the subject of adequate supplies for our troops.

    It could be that the the Army is buying shiny new toys instead of armor, but that wouldn’t qualify as a money problem. After all, if that’s the Army mentality, then giving them more money wouldn’t help — they’d just buy more shiny toys.

    I think Don’s right, and it’s a procurement problem. That makes the most sense to me, anyway.

  44. Dan,

    But it would be a “money problem” (if it were true), in that they are not allocating money properly (or at least the properly according to the vision of some).

    As to pork and Jacksonville, since it is Republican territory, there may simply be no need to send them money; or maybe the company doesn’t have the “right contacts,” etc. The resources of the U.S. government – though large – are still finite.

  45. I have heard of Godwin’s Law (as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one), but I’ve never heard of the law that a discussion devolves into porn!

    … assuming the crap I see now has not been removed by the time you read this.

  46. I’ve never heard of the law that a discussion devolves into porn!

    No, but the world would be a better place if that *was* a law. ๐Ÿ™‚

  47. John,

    Thank you for your post! It was very informative.

  48. Ben,
    You’re quite welcome. I’m glad at least someone read it.

  49. Miraculously, after a couple days of relentless badgering by the various news media outlets, including their own favorite son, talk radio, the Pentagon has somehow managed to get the order for increased production out the door. Oddly, prior to this past week, they were mired in debate about how many armored vehicles they’d need. Seems all it took was the question being asked by the very people who are most directly affected by the political bullshit maelstrom, to the very people who are most responsible for the political bullshit maelstrom, in front of the very people who are paying for the political bullshit maelstrom for the winds to die down and get some actual work done.

  50. Randy, you can blame the military or the Bush Administration for not making a stink about it earlier, but it is Congress, and its nightmare politics (on both sides of the aisle) that controls how much of what gets made. It would have been technically (and in fact literally) illegal for the army to buy more than they did….they were only authorized UP TO 450/month.

    S.2401

    Department of Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005

    SEC. 112. UP-ARMORED HIGH MOBILITY MULTI-PURPOSE WHEELED VEHICLES OR WHEELED VEHICLE BALLISTIC ADD-ON ARMOR PROTECTION.

    (a) AMOUNT- Of the amount authorized to be appropriated for the Army for fiscal year 2005 for other procurement under section 101(5), $610,000,000 shall be available for both of the purposes described in subsection (b) and may be used for either or both of such purposes.

    (b) PURPOSES- The purposes referred to in subsection (a) are as follows:

    (1) The procurement of up-armored high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles at a rate up to 450 such vehicles each month.

    (2) The procurement of wheeled vehicle ballistic add-on armor protection.

    (c) ALLOCATION BY SECRETARY OF THE ARMY- (1) The Secretary of the Army shall allocate the amount available under subsection (a) between the two purposes set forth in subsection (b) as the Secretary determines appropriate to meet the requirements of the Army.

    (2) Not later than 15 days before making an allocation under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall transmit a notification of the proposed allocation to the congressional defense committees.

    (d) PROHIBITION ON USE FOR OTHER PURPOSES- The amount available under subsection (a) may not be used for any purpose other than a purpose specified in subsection (b).

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