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Hummer Deathtraps Suck

| 19 Comments | 5 TrackBacks
LAND_M1114_HMMWV_IEDed.jpg
HMMWV, IEDed
(click to view full)
Over at DID, I note that the US military has just begun fielding a new variant of the HMMWV jeep: the M1151 and M1152. Think of them as Hummer v2.1.

The good news is that the new hummers are designed for rapid installation and removal of armor in the field, with minimal tools and support. This greatly simplifies logistics and upgrades, and allows the armor to be removed when it isn't needed so the Hummers will last a little longer (up-armored HMMWV suspensions die quickly due to all the extra weight).

The bad news is that despite the armor improvements, the HMMWV remains trapped in 1980s thinking. It was designed to make use of American auto-industry experience, and leverage civilian approaches. That's why Ah-nold now has a personal fleet to drive around town, and the decision did help lower costs. It's also why the HMMWV was built with a conventional flat bottom and frame.

The thing is, flat bottoms are mine-blast traps. It's possible to provide some protection, but the martial arts equivalent would be a style that requires you to catch the full force of every punch head-on.

LAND_M1114_HMMWV_Armor.jpg
Not a real solution.
Not a huge problem when the only mines around are the ones you're laying in front of advancing Soviet troops. Today? Big problem, which continues to kill Americans, 3 years after Operation Iraqi Freedom began. And the US military procurement system continues to churn out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of up-armored Hummers... that will be left in Iraq afterward, because the extra armor's weight kills their suspensions et. al.

Burning money, burning troops. It's beyond ridiculous - and there is a better way...

Other Options, Part I

LAND_Bushmaster.jpg
Bushmaster IMV

The South Africans faced this issue a long time ago. They built vehicles like the Casspir truck et. al. with V-shaped steel hulls that deflect a mine blast to the sides. The mine may blow off the tires, but the occupants have a much better chance of surviving. Australia's similar-sized Bushmaster vehicles use this principle, as do many others nowadays like the German Krauss-Maffei Dingo and the British Iveco Panther. So do smaller vehicles like BAE OMC's RG-31 Nyala. For some vehicles, composite blast panels that can flex rather than breaking add to the protection.

The RG-31 is currently used by the US 101st Airborne, by EOD (explosive ordnance dispoal) and combat engineer units in the US Army and Marines, and by Canadian troops in Afghanistan. The US Army bought about 148 of them last February, at a cost of about $78 million. It's about a foot taller than the up-armored M1114 HMMWV, about two feet longer, and about as wide. It also weighs about 4,000 pounds more, at 16,500 pounds... and is much more likely to protect its occupants when it hits a land mine. The other difference is that 16,500 pounds is what an RG-31 Nyala is supposed to weigh. Which means you don't have to throw them away after a couple of years because the suspension et. al. is gone.

If it's good enough for the EOD folks, and has characteristics very similar to a Hummer, why the heck isn't it in general use when IED land mines remain the main threat in Iraq?

I do not understand why this vehicle, or another survivable solution, has not been priority-designated as the USA's Hummer-replacement designate for the Iraqi theater. No, scratch that. I do understand. I just think the reasons are bulls--t.

The Congressional delegations pushing manufacturing for vehicles and armor add-ons in their districts, even if it's something that won't really protect American troops properly. The bureaucratic mindset that sees "replace the Hummer" as some massive "US Army fleet for the next 30 years" infrastructure project, and so takes 5-10 years just to make a decision because every i must be dotted and every t crossed as some futuristic (and bet on it: very expensive) new vehicle is designed. Why, so you can field it after the conflict is over? What's needed is a priority war project that looks to implement an off-the-shelf alternative or set of alternatives NOW, for use as a vehicle pool in a designated theater. Any sign of that? No.

Sorry, that isn't good enough in wartime.

Procurement: Every Little Thing Takes a Little Time

Yes, I know that even wartime procurement takes time. For example, let's say the US military wanted to buy RG-31 Chargers (its name for them) in quantity, and was prepared to take initial deliveries from South Africa until manufacturing could transition to a US plant. The plant would have to staff up, training and quality levels take time to kick in, suppliers have to make expansions of their own, etc. It would probably be 12-18 months before they would start arriving in any serious quantity (or at least, the quantities America begins to consider 'serious') from South Africa, and about 2-3 years before you could hope to get really serious thousand-or-thousands per year rolling off the production lines established in the USA.

If we're going to offer serious criticism, we have to acknowledge this reality, and address what to do in the interim. Given the number of Hummers to substitute for, it's a multi-year interim of having at least some Hummers in service in Iraq and Afghanistan any way you slice it.

That's why I've been fairly accepting, until now, of the "up-armor the HMMWVs" situation. It was the logical expedient that would get some improved protection to the field fastest, so the largest possible number of troops could benefit.

But my patience for it is eroding. And my patience for it as a mainstay of the US response is zero.

Good News... Bad News

LAND_Cougar_H.jpg
Cougar H

In fairness (and this is a scary thought), the Pentagon and all its well-chronicled procurement deficiencies is still a step up on most militaries. It has put some RG-31 vehicles in the field, as well as much bigger Cougar armored trucks (also with V-hulls) and the related Buffalo mine-removal vehicle, plus some M117 Guardian armored security vehicles. It has also done well in quickly iterating a fleet of small mine-disposal robots like the TALON, iRobot, MarcBOT IV, etc. Even the Brits look at these robots, and stuff like the Buffalo and its monster claw, and they're jealous of the USA's willingness and ability to get this kind of "shiny new kit" to their troops in just a couple of years.

Having said that, much more could and arguably should have been done. These are all fine ancillaries. But they are ancillaries. Sure, there's a major IED task force and lots of new side equipment. Yet even the experts acknowledge that there's no technical solution or set of solutions which will remove the threat. If IED land mines are going to be a feature of life, maybe the place to start is in making sure that the Army's main ride is designed to cope.

Indeed, the bad news for the Hummer is that even its theoretical justification has evaporated. The HMMWV was a "middle ground" idea that sort of made sense in its day, but its niche no longer exists. Let's review:

  • See articles like Winds' "Jenin Is Our Future Too," with notes on the 'red force' trend in military exercises, and DID's reporting of Maj. Nadeau in "Urban Fight the New Baseline - Does FCS Need A Rethink?" Again and again, the US military says that the urban fight is the future of warfare.
  • But too many of its tools are not built to survive there, even under counter-insurgency warfare conditions. The Hummer is one such.
  • We also hear, again and again, of the "non-linear battlefield" (perhaps Jessica Lynch could tell us a thing or two).
  • Yet the implications of that idea are not being addressed, except in piecemeal ways.

One of the implications is that "just getting around and doing work, particularly in quieter areas" is a role concept that becomes deeply questionable for a military vehicle. There may be places like the continental USA, bases in Europe, et. al. where one could either field something entirely civilian, like a Ford F150 or civilian SUV, or buy the old pre-Hummer jeeps for 1/4 to 1/20 the price. Beyond that, however, one needs a real military vehicle fit for the modern battlefield. In urban operations and situations where "the front lines" is a ridiculous concept, therefore, middle options like the HMMWV likewise become ridiculous - as well as expensive for their performance level, and dangerous to boot.

My sole comfort is that the other big potential user of HMMWVs is.... China (v1.0, yet).

As former Navy SEAL Chris Berman, creator of an urban patrol vehicle called "The Rock" puts it:

"...armoring Humvees is like trying to put a band-aid on a sucking chest wound. The spirit of it is fantastic. The application of it is ridiculous."

That's why I'm disappointed that other obvious 'fast-patch' options which would directly replace Hummers have been neglected. And I'm even more disappointed that the Army is still relying on Hummers as the main ride it's still buying in quantity, not just the main ride it's using.

There were options. There still are options.

Other Options, Part II

Could the USA have rewarded its Australian allies for their help, and bought even a "small" order of 250 larger, V-hulled Bushmasters (vs. 300 or so ordered by Australia for its entire army) for use instead of Hummers in higher-threat zones like Baghdad, on convoy duty from Kuwait, or in zones near Australian forces who have also been using it in Iraq? Yes, absolutely. Good diplomacy, good for the troops, offers an immediate improvement and a tryout opportunity for larger things. If it proves effective and competitive vs. other alternatives, order more. If something else becomes "the big standard" later, give them to the US Homeland Security department where they'll be very useful along the southern border.

Then there's Rhino Runner ultra-armored bus, which transported Donald Rumsfeld during a Baghdad visit in 2004. As this DID articles notes, the small firm who makes them, wouldn't give the Pentagon $500,000 worth of free buses to get shot up in testing with zero recompense and zero guarantee of future orders. Hence no approval. Some security contractors in Iraq are smart enough to use them.

LAND_M113s_w_Improvised_Padding.jpg
M113s in Iraq

Some M113 tracked armored personnel carriers are serving in Iraq, and have received pretty decent reviews - read this one. Those who use them don't want a Hummer instead. Now, the kicker: there are a couple thousand M113s currently sitting idle in US storage. For not very much money, you could add spall lining, floor armor, gun shields, slat armor "cages," then equip them with the same communications gear the new Hummers get. For rather more money (about $750,000 each), you could fit them with quiet hybrid drives (quiet is a big asset in urban combat), rubber band tracks that are quiet and will not damage roads while preserving off-road mobility, slat/reactive armor, gun shields, spall linings and floor armor, and upgraded communications, plus any other refurbishment needed.

Would these upgraded "M113A4" vehicles survive IED attacks as well as a Stryker? No, and that isn't the comparison I'd make. The Strykers have performed better than I expected in Iraq, and they have features even an upgraded M113 would lack. But Strykers cost $3.5 million each and are organized in totally new brigade formations, as integral "Styker Brigade Combat Teams." Great. What do you do for all the soldiers who aren't in one? "Give them Hummers" is the wrong answer.

Would upgraded M113s be a big improvement over the Hummers for other Army units, due to better mine resistance and RPG protection? Yes. Deliverable quickly, in numbers? Yes. Would they be better than the Marines' AA7 Amtracs amphibious tracked behicles? Yes, and having Marines use M113s in theater instead would save wear on the very old but uniquely amphibious Amtracs. Could the M113s be returned to the USA afterward, for use in future on the Mexican border or elsewhere? Yes. Could they be given to the Iraqis later, as a cheap and effective mechanized force nucleus at half the price of any comparable alternative? Yes.

Meanwhile, Cougar and RG-31 production could be ramped up, giving US forces durable, serious rides that would improve the force mix as they arrived in quantity about now. If, that is, the Pentagon had got off its butt on this early with a more serious plan.

The Bottom Line

Instead of that scenario, the US military has actively choked M113 use, favouring the Hummers - and doesn't seem to be moving with a lot of urgency on other fronts either. Cougars and RG-31, which have the potential to be mainstream transports in-theater, are bought in small quantities for EOD units. Evaluation of Hummer alternatives is not a priority. And over a billion dollars worth of throwaway new Hummers are headed off the production line. Wonderful.

Up-armored Hummers may be an improvement if you're the Iraqi Army, riding in unmodified pickups. They may be an improvement for other allies on the ground. They'll help you survive heavy small arms fire, or small IEDs, which is better than a Ford F150 or a basic Land Rover will do. Fine. Give the Iraqis or other allies the Hummers for their use, as American alternatives are fielded. But have a dammned alternative already.

I'm starting to move past disappointment to anger that the HMMWV is still seen as the mainstay wheeled ride for Iraq. US troops need and deserve a better ride, in numbers, that makes the "up-armored Hummer" the temporary - and partial - expedient that it always should have been.

Final point. I understand that shaped-charge devices sent in from Iran and larger IED land mines will blow a hole through any HMMWV-sized vehicle no matter what, and most larger ones as well. The Israelis have even lost a couple 60-ton Merkava-3 tanks to such tactics.

Nothing is foolproof.

But there is value in setting the bar higher, and offering more protection. Else why have protection at all? Especially when that protection is already on the market, and proven.

US policy and its defense procurement system have set the bar pretty low for their troops' primary ride in a war zone, and it's not looking like a field expedient any more. That's a decision that has cost lives, and will cost lives. It's a decision that needs to be reversed, and replaced with a serious plan to make the Hummer history in America's theaters of war.

My opinion, anyway. Use the comments section to offer yours...

UPDATES:

  • Monday Winds of War team member Jeff of Peace Like a River has also written quite a bit about this issue. Among other posts, he notes combat casualties since January 7, 2006, where Humvees were specified as being involved. How many of these were preventable with a better procurement focus and more survivable vehicles?
  • Wash Park Prophet's The Humvee Problem is another fine recap and article. Adds a bit more history.
  • Murdoc notes that the US military is looking at about 11 off the shelf vehicles as potential replacements, including most of the vehicles mentioned in my article. But Airborne Combat Engineer, who has been on this issue for a while, notes the key statement that sums up the problem with a quote: "Whether or not the Army decides there�s a requirement here is not determined at this point. And whether or not this goes into an acquisition process has not been determined." Can somebody please get their head out of their ass and determine it, since we're only 3 years into the battle for Iraq where IEDs are enemy #1?

5 TrackBacks

Tracked: March 24, 2006 8:30 PM
Excerpt: Hummer Deathtraps Suck "The bad news is that despite the armor improvements, the HMMWV remains trapped in 1980s thinking." Six-Wheel Hummers Wow. (Via J-Walk) "Darth...
Tracked: March 29, 2006 8:04 AM
Submitted for Your Approval from Watcher of Weasels
Excerpt: First off...  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now...  here are all the links submitted by members of the Watcher's Council for this week's vote. Council link...
Tracked: March 31, 2006 9:14 AM
The Council Has Spoken! from Watcher of Weasels
Excerpt: First off...  any spambots reading this should immediately go here, here, here,  and here.  Die spambots, die!  And now...  the winning entries in the Watcher's Council vote for this week are A Slap in the Face by Right Wing Nu...
Tracked: March 31, 2006 1:45 PM
The Council has spoken! from The Glittering Eye
Excerpt: The Watcher’s Council has announced its picks for the most outstanding posts of the preceding week. The winning Council post was Right Wing Nut House’s post, “A Slap in the Face”.  This post notes that the proposals for dealing...
Tracked: April 1, 2006 5:58 PM
The Council Has Spoken! from ShrinkWrapped
Excerpt: This week the winning Council post came courteously of Rightwing Nuthouse who eloquently explained the difference between immigrants who come to America to be new Americans and those who come here to use and abuse our hospitality by giving us

19 Comments

You seem to confuse two different roles: light utility vehicle and armored personnel carrier. The HMMWV was never intended to be an APC (and in fairness, the Army seems to have become confused about this as well), but a replacement for the jeep: very mobile and very rugged but not built for actual combat. By all means, if you want everyone in an APC, field APCs (we have Bradleys and Strikers, and could field M113s from storage if we wanted to). And yes, we could use foreign-designed wheeled APCs, or design our own wheeled APCs.

For patrolling and street fighting, the troops probably should be in APCs. But for just getting around and doing work, particularly in quieter areas, the HMMWVs require considerably less maintenance and a smaller logistical train.

Joe,
What Jeff said was to be my opening, good thing a more knowledgeable commenter did it.
My second item regards the Rock developed by http://graniteglobalservices.com/automotive/specification.htm
Too much info for comment, email to follow.
Mike

IMO, the US needs mine-resistant patrol vehicles like the RG-31... and it also needs more APCs for operations in high-threat urban zones.

The RG-31 is not, properly speaking, an APC. Nor are the Cougar, Casspir, et. al. To the extent they're referred to as a class, it's as "mine-resistant patrol vehicles" or some similar locution. The RG-31, in particular, is a wheeled vehicle about the same size as the Hummer. It's just better designed for patrols on an actual battlefield.

And if the USA didn't intend that functionality, why not just buy the old no-protection Jeeps that predated the Hummers, and cost about 1/4 as much if that?

The HMMWV was a "middle ground" idea that sort of made sense in its day, but its rationale has evaporated and its niche no longer exists. Let's review:

  • Again and again, the US military says that the urban fight is the future of warfare
  • But too many of its tools are not built to survive there, even under counter-insurgency warfare conditions.
  • We also hear, again and again, of the "non-linear battlefield" (perhaps Jessica Lynch could tell us a thing or two).
  • Yet the implications of that idea are not being addressed.

One of the implications is that "just getting around and doing work, particularly in quieter areas" is an idea that becomes silly on its face for a military vehicle. Either field something entirely civilian, like a Ford F150 or civilian SUV, which is entirely restricted to that role - or get a real military vehicle. A designation that now begins with real patrol vehicles like the RG-31, and escalates through to APCs.

The non-linear and urban battlefields make middle options like the HMMWV ridiculous... and dangerous to boot.

Hmm, will add a couple of these points to the article.

The Rock is a cool vehicle, developed by a former SEAL after a friend was one of the security contractors murdered in Fallujah. At $200k per, it costs about as much as the up-armored HMMWV, but is based on a wholly civilian vehicle and appears (note: not sure, haven't seen tests) to have better protection in urban environments in exchange for no real off-road capabilities.

And BTW, here's what The Rock's creator Chris Berman has to say about up-armouring Hummers:

"...armoring Humvees is like trying to put a band-aid on a sucking chest wound," says Berman. "The spirit of it is fantastic. The application of it is ridiculous."

Military Hummers suck, civilian hummers suck. Maybe there is a pattern there.

Up Armored Hummers with upgrade kits was likely a short term solution that does not cost much resource and time to manufacture, versus long term solutions to introduce new armored vehicles into service. However, it is not always required to have these armored vehicles, depending on type of operations, such as disaster relief. The benifits of removable uparmor kits is that you could add or remove the kit depeneding on the type of operations, rather hostile such as the low intensity conflict or calm such as disaster relief and riot control operations. You do not need armored vehicles in disaster relief operations, while it may require large number of vehicles for transports of equipments and people. The low intensity conflict of Iraq and Afghanistan does not force the end of hummers. It is also cost ineffecient to develop large quantities of armored vehicles. There is a need of compromise to provide moderate armored vehicles that will reach in the hands of each team, instead of high grade armored vehicles provided to only few. The budget is limited, and there is limitations on how many armored vehicles could be manufactured within the limited budget. However, I still promote introducing M1117 ASV-150 Guardian as one of the candidates to replace hummers, several times expensive than uparmored hummers, but cheaper than APC such as the Strykers, as a compromise between the cost and the grade of armor, so that each team will likely have armored vehicles with good amount of armor. M1117 ASV-150 Guardian also has up armored kits which allows adjusting to missions, and abilities to survive RPG-7 attacks. It also has turrets to protect the gunner and the option to add on automated gun system with a grenade launcher system. M1117 ASV-150 is the ideal system as the next generation of hummers.

It's not a replacement for hummers, but one of the other options availible for low intensity missions may be M-8 AGS Bufford. This is something like a track version of Stryker MGS, and has three levels of armor, ability to carry 120 mm gun versus 105 mm of Stryker MGS, and availible to be air dropped. Somehow, rather or not General Motors are lobbying to block the use of M-8 in Iraq fearing it would steal some of the shares of Stryker, there is still no news about M-8 AGS to be used in Iraq, once that was proposed in the past by a congressman. The government hinted its use in Iraq, but also added that this will not mean M-8 AGS will officially be one of the systems to be a full produced system.

You think the Hummers are bad, you should see what your poor northern cousins were driving when we first deployed to Afghanistan. In fact, here, I'll show ya:

The Iltis

Considering what it was like to boot around in that bucket of bolts, I almost wet myself every time I got to borrow a Hummer.

Ofcourse, now we've upgraded to the G-Wagon (which was, in my opinion, a big mistake), and the Nyala, which is a seriously bad-ass vehicle. The armour isn't anything spectacular if you're facing .50cal or RPG's, but it'll soak up mines and IEDs no problem. I'm surprised the US mil hasn't started aquiring them in larger numbers.

I did not say "remove all Hummers from the military." I did say I wanted "serious plan to make the Hummer history in America's theaters of war." Different argument. Ultimately, however, that will likely mean a serious slowdown in production of new Hummers, and reliance on existing stocks for uses in the USA and other no or low-threat locations.

Pedestrian's point re: removable armor echoes mine. The thing is, any of these M1151/M1152 vehicles sent to Iraq will never have the armor removed. So they'll wear out and be left behind just like the non-removable M1114s. The removable armor still offers enough field and lostistics advantages to justify some subtitution for other Hummers while better alternatives phase in.

I like the M1117 Guardian ASV a lot, but look at its carrying capacity. It's really a dedicated MP vehicle, and exceptionally good at that too. It should probably be part of a future force mix.

Only downside is that there was one M1117 Guardian ASV manufacturing facility, and guess where? Yup. New Orleans.

Alex, thanks for noting the Iltis' utter suckitude, just to give our readers a proper sense of what faces other militaries by comparison.

I'll add that the "Nyalas" Alex talks about are RG-31s. He also highlights one difference between an APC and a mine-resistant patrol vehicle, which is often the damage it can be equipped to take. No-one expects an RG-31 to survive an RPG hit; if you want that, you need an M113 with slats. Though I'm told "The Rock" can be fitted with slat armor too, so the lines may be blurring...

One more thing, just to toot a horn as a Canadian. We used some cool jointed vehicles called Bv-206s in Afghanistan that are somewhere between a Hummer and an APC, but can go over pretty much any terrain. They won't stop an RPG either - but they'll often ride right over pressure-detonated IEDs, because their ground pressure is so amazingly low. They can be coverted for amphibious "swimming", fitted into helicopters like the CH-47 Chinook, or split into two sections and carried under two Blackhawks.

Very, very useful little vehicles to have in places like Afghanistan, giving air and ground mobility, carrying power, and some protection if you're taking on foot infantry like the Taliban off-road in the hills (where Hummers are simply inequipped to be). Wouldn't use them in urban operations, though.

When I think of a non-linear battle field the Jessica I think of is Simpson.

BTW Congress makes the procurement rules. Most of the delay is their fault. The delay is there to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

Joe,

Kudos for getting a lot of the logistics stuff right. Refreshing.

Still there is training of maintenance folks and acqusition of spares and consumables (filters, fuses, etc). Which is why getting a few units into the field is easy and getting lots is hard.

You see there are training budgets, training schedules, test eqpt, special tools, supply depots, inventory line items, etc., etc., etc.

And all of this has to be co-ordinated with deployment schedules. The troops will need to practice with the eqpt. for 6 months to a year before going into the field with it. With the logistics of maintenance and repair coming six months to a year before that. All of which means the regulars will get the eqpt. before the guard. And what will the guard get? Think Jessica Simpson humming a tune with a V on the end. Except hopefully the vehicles will be up armored and Jessica will not. :-)

from a Brit,

America's closest allies ( argueably ) Britain and Israel have been involved in counter insurgency for decades. Did NOONE at the Pentagon think to ask either country for their experience?

Israel : uses converted tanks(!!!) where necessary. Has range of armoured cars.

Britain : simply purchased a cheap armoured hull on a truck chasis (its called SAXON ). Note 4 wheels : enough to get around the streets of Belfast, and rapidly reach GErmany to reinforce NATO. Purhased mine proof vehicles ( note BEFORE Iraq started ).

Agreed, Joe. Good post. This vehicle was not meant to be a primary fighting vehicle. So why are so many good, brave people still having to ride into harm's way in them?

I know some people who have worked on Gun Trucks. 5 and 7 ton trucks are inherently mine resistant and with added shielding they can survive IEDs. They are big, strong and far off the ground. They have the suspention to carry extra armor and cab protection. Add an armored box in back with 50cal mounts and spaul shield the floor and the resistance to IEDs and potential for self defense jumps.
When you are doing logistics or convoy stuff trucks that can protect themselves and the other trucks with them sounds like a terrific idea.
Maybe that will mean a few less Hummvys on convoy protection duty.
Problem may be that this is relatively simple and does not cost all that much.
The next war (say in Iran) is going to involve a reprize of the Sadam feyadeen attacking the logistic corridors and lots of sophisticated IEDs. Gun trucks are one of the proper responces.

Rob, totally with you on the gun trucks. Trent Telenko has done an excellent article about them here on Winds.

Erm, David.... British commander in Basra recently resigned when they refused to up-armor his Land Rovers, they only go out in formations of Warrior vehicles these days and restrict patrolling, government says they don't need armor. No vehicles like the Buffalos or IED-disposal robots, either.

Hey, nobody's perfect.

The Saxon is certainly better designed for an Iraq-style environment than the Hummer - but really, it's a different class of vehicle than the Hummer, The Rock, or the RG-31. Its almost a full-on APC, and if it's close to anything, it's more like an older version of the Australian Bushmaster.

Presumably Britain needs the Saxons it has and they aren't made any more - so if the Yanks are going that way... buy the Bushmaster. Or go cheap, cheap, cheap and buy up the old Casspirs South Africa is selling now for a song (India bought some, wise move). They're probably throwaways in a few years, but maybe that's even a recommendation point - then it's just a pure dedicated solution in theater, and you're not stuck with a vehicle in the logistics/supply chain afterward.

The point being, there are a ton of cost-effective solutions here - IF the Pentagon was interested. And puzzlingly, maddeningly, it doesn;t seem to be.

Our's is the country which at one time could produce a Liberty Ship in under a week and thousands of tanks and aircraft each month.

So I don't really buy those looooong timelines.

If we REALLY wanted to produce these vehicles in quick time, we could. It's all a matter of priorities.

But no one in Washington seems to be motivated enough to actually kick-start American industry into supporting the War-Effort.

What saddens me most about this War is that it seems as though our armed forces have been fighting it with one hand tied behind their backs.

Washington has let them down.... again.

I disagree with flat bottomed Humvee's being mine traps. A mine will not explode directly underneath the flat bottom. They will explode underneath the wheel assembly and blow the wheel assembly off.

The flat bottoms are more susceptible to belly shots from IED's. Take it from me, I've seen IED's explode all around the vehicle, same with mines.

"Would these upgraded "M113A4" vehicles survive IED attacks as well as a Stryker? No, and that isn't the comparison I'd make"
Say what? The upgraded M113s have heavier armor than a Stryker, and there are MANY uparmored M113s (the highly successful Israeli Zelda among them) serving throughout the world. Tracked vehicles are also what Stryker drivers call for when they get stuck.

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