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The uparmor uproar
Posted by: McQ on Friday, December 10, 2004

Well its been an interesting day or so.

Heh ...

I've been called everything but a child of God because I dare to hold the Pentagon responsible for doing a better job in force protection by uparmoring vehicles, specifically the trucks used by support units to push logistics forward to the combat troops.

How dare I come down on the side of PVT Joe Snuffy over Donny Rumsfeld.

Yes, I've been called a kool-aid drinker because I didn't fall in lock-step with the defenders of Rummy and the boys. A dupe of the media. Even a liberal. The fact that my experience over 28 years in the military went off like Spiderman's "spidey sense" when I read about this was simply dismissed as irrelevant and lacking in "evidence".

Yet, with no more "evidence" than I had, many critics were willing to swallow whole the "logicstics and physics" line that Rumsfeld pushed out there. They seem willing to accept at face value that 2, almost 3 years into this thing, everything that can be done is being done. It is acceptable to them that soldiers who've done one tour in Iraq and may be returning for a second tour are facing the very same problem they had when they left.

Call me crazy, but I find that unacceptable.

It was also interesting to watch the attempt to make the argument out to be about Humvees and only Humvees.

Well, speaking of Humvees, today we find that there's excess capacity in the companies who are uparmoring Humvees, capacity the companies have been reporting to the Pentagon. But they've seen no increase in orders. Does that demonstrate the proper priority to you?

But as I tried to point out, that's not the whole argument. It not just about Humvees. As I noted yesterday, we're in an asymetrical war. That means we have no front lines. We run from safe zone to safe zone through indian country. So its just not combat troops who are vulnerable. It is also a huge and potentially lethal problem for logistics troops ... the truck drivers who haul the critical supplies to the combat troops. My critics seem to either not understand that point or don't want to address it.

But I'm going to emphasize it again anyway: Its not just about combat troops or combat units. Its not just about Humvees. It is about the entire force, and it is my contention that a critical part of that force has been left vulnerable by not being given the priority they need and deserve when it comes to armored vehicles.

To bolster that point of view, today we learn that in the 2+ years of this problem which we have known about since the beginning we have this to show for it:
The committee said more than three-quarters of the 19,854 Humvees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait carry protective armor, which can vary in quality. The most secure are factory-armored Humvees, and the Pentagon has received only 5,910 of the 8,105 that commanders say they need. But only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles.
We have 9,128 medium and heavy trucks on the road. Of that total, 1,128 have armor, and we don't even know if that's adequate.

Less than 15% of the total.

You do the math and tell me if, after 2+ years, you find it acceptable that 8,000 of these critical trucks and their crews out there running the roads through indian country pushing equally critical war fighting supplies forward have no armor on their vehicles.

Not insufficient armor.

No armor.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to my lonely punch bowl for another round of kool-aid, while my critics crowd around the Pentagon punch bowl for another round there.

Salut!

UPDATE: OK, no I'm not obsessed with this, but hey, its important to understand what is and isn't being said about the uparmoring controversy. What has spurred this particular update is a comment by reader Michael W asking the following question:
McQ: Do these numbers:
To bolster that point of view, today we learn that in the 2+ years of this problem which we have known about since the beginning we have this to show for it:

The committee said more than three-quarters of the 19,854 Humvees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait carry protective armor, which can vary in quality. The most secure are factory-armored Humvees, and the Pentagon has received only 5,910 of the 8,105 that commanders say they need. But only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles.

We have 9,128 medium and heavy trucks on the road. Of that total, 1,128 have armor, and we dont even know if thats adequate.

Less than 15% of the total.
... match up with these numbers?
Weve got about 30,000 wheeled vehicles in our theater -- in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas that CFLCC and Central Command operate. Of that 30,000 vehicles, around a little less than 8,000 of them do not have some type of armor protection on them -- level one, two or three. Of those vehicles that dont, some number of them are things like tool trucks, communication vans or vehicles that dont leave the base camp. In other words, theyre trucked up into Iraq -- or in cases before what were doing now, were driven up into Iraq -- and they go onto a base camp, and thats where they spend most of their time.
I don`t mean to quibble. There seems to be agreement about the fact that approximately 8,000 vehicles are devoid of armor. But it seems that perhaps a goodly portion of those unarmored vehicles do not necessarily require any. Is that correct?

Of course, it isn`t clear how many of such vehicles should have armor, but it does seem like something less than 85% to 90% of them. Am I offbase here?
Its not a quibble at all, it's a darn good question. Let me start by saying I have no idea what is being talked about in the quote Michael provides in terms of types of equipment. Is it Humvees? Trucks? All of them? None of them?

My guess is the quote is mostly citing Humvees. Why? Well, look at the Table of Organization and Equipment for a Signal unit. If most of those vehicles are "tool trucks" or "communication vans", a signal unit should give us a clue as to what they carry, vehicle wise, wouldn't you say? How about an area support signal company at corps level. I've distilled its actual equipment requirements from a TO&E:
MAJOR EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS:

19 1/4T HMMWV

5T WRECKER

FUEL TANKER

2-2 1/2 TRK CGO

39-S250 SHELTER
In case you're wondering, a "Shelter" is a modified and uparmored Humvee. So of the 61 vehicles in this company, all but 3 are Humvees. The point to be made here is that the army uses various configurations of the Humvee to be such things as commo vans, ambulances, "tool trucks" and the like.

As stated, what I'm concerned with are the transportation and quartermaster companies ... the heavy truck and medium truck guys who's entire job it is to haul stuff to the troops. The guys driving the HEMTTs and the 5 tons. Check the mission statement of the HEMTT on the link I gave you. "Provide transport capabilities for re-supply of combat vehicles and weapons systems." That's not a mission that is done on base camps, folks. These are 30 to 40 thousand pound vehicles which, by their stated mission, have to be on the road.

Then there's the M939 5 ton truck which is the real workhorse of the transportation system. According to globalsecurity.com, reported on Dec. 4th, we're just now beginning to work on uparmoring this workhorse:
Now, the Rock Island Arsenal is being called upon to make armor that can protect five-ton trucks used in Iraq.

Within days, production will begin to fortify passenger cabs for the M939 truck, a medium-size vehicle used for a variety of transportation missions in Iraq.

[...]

An initial order for 1,150 M939 cab kits has already been placed with the Ground Systems Industrial Enterprise, which is headquartered on Arsenal Island and oversees a half-dozen other arsenals and depots around the country. A total of 660 of the units will be made at the Arsenal. However, that figure is likely to increase. Since placing the initial order, the Army has hiked its request for the cab kits to 6,000, said Fred Smith, the deputy director of the ground systems industrial group. The Arsenal could get half of that work.
So, in answer to Michael's question, it would appear that those 8,000 may not include the M939 5 ton or even the HEMTT's.

Then there are the hard working heavy trucks called ‘low-boys' which haul armor and the like into the field to consider. They too should be uparmored. ... etc., etc.

This is my last bang on this particular drum. I think, by now, its fairly obvious that the critical logistics side of the equation hasn't received the priority that at least I think it should have. I write that off to poor planning which is a result of poor guidance ... a leadership problem. Place the blame at whatever level you wish, it really doesn't matter, but this is just not the way I think you should run this sort of operation.

Force protection, in this sort of warfare, means the total force, not just the combat units, and it is in that area that the leadership seems to have failed its troops. Hopefully they'll now give this a higher priority, shake all the cages, and get as many of the armor kits out there and on these vehicles as they can as soon as possible.
 
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Comments
Ive been called everything but a child of God because I dare to hold the Pentagon responsible for doing a better job in force protection by uparmoring vehicles, specifically the trucks used by support units to push logistics forward to the combat troops

DAMN YOU MCQ! YOU'RE A CHILD OF GOD DAMMIT!!!

There, now you've had the full gamut :)
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
Heh ... thank you Shark! I now somehow feel ... complete.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Well, at least we're not having to borrow Pakistani armored vehicles like we did in Somalia under a previous administration.
 
Written By: Master of None
URL: http://
Well, at least we`re not having to borrow Pakistani armored vehicles like we did in Somalia under a previous administration.
Well that`s a little different problem ... that of ceding authority for the force in question to the UN. And that was, unfortunately, fairly typical of a UN operation.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: Unknown
The UN didn't prevent us from having Abrams in Somalia. The size and configuration of US forces was our responsibility just as it is now.
 
Written By: Master of None
URL: http://
The UN didn`t prevent us from having Abrams in Somalia. The size and configuration of US forces was our responsibility just as it is now.
OK, I won`t argue your point as its valid. I was pointing out that joint commands under the UN usually don`t work very well. If, for instance, the Pakistani force had been under the overall command of the US commander, it might not have been a problem. But as it was configured it was a problem looking for a place to happen. Unfortunately it happened when our rangers needed that type help the most.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: Unknown
And I agree that there is a knee jerk reaction to defend this administration from any criticism with regards to the Iraq war. But there is also an equal knee jerk reaction to use any example, instance, or hint of a problem to blast the entire war effort. Can you agree that some of the people screaming about the lack of armor don't give a damn about protecting the troops, but are just gleeful with the opportunity to attack the Bush administration yet again?
 
Written By: Master of None
URL: http://
Let me just make it clear, from your detailed and well researched analysis, it is very clear to me that you are explicitly concerned about the welfare of the troops.
 
Written By: Master of None
URL: http://
And I agree that there is a knee jerk reaction to defend this administration from any criticism with regards to the Iraq war. But there is also an equal knee jerk reaction to use any example, instance, or hint of a problem to blast the entire war effort. Can you agree that some of the people screaming about the lack of armor don`t give a damn about protecting the troops, but are just gleeful with the opportunity to attack the Bush administration yet again?
Oh absolutely. And I`ve been a staunch defender of the war effort and the administration. As I told someone yesterday, if this were 3 months into the war I`d be saying, "get a grip, give them time to respond to the problem. Give them time to gear up to handle it".

Just because we back the war and the administration are we required to excuse failure to save face. No war goes perfectly, and balls get dropped. I think this ball has been badly dropped. I think the Pentagon has mismanaged this aspect of the war and I`d be a real kool-aid drinker if I didn`t speak out about things like this when warranted.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: Unknown
Let me just make it clear, from your detailed and well researched analysis, it is very clear to me that you are explicitly concerned about the welfare of the troops.
Well, thank you ... they are my concern ... all of them.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: Unknown
I don't doubt that your HEART is in the right place. We ARE ont he same side.

But not your head. Usually - but not on this one.

Too much speculation, not enough facts.

It's amazing how much commentary there is on the Internet, written by people with so few facts.
 
Written By: fgh
URL: http://
I don`t doubt that your HEART is in the right place. We ARE ont he same side.

But not your head. Usually - but not on this one.

Too much speculation, not enough facts.

It`s amazing how much commentary there is on the Internet, written by people with so few facts.
Obviously you didn`t read the post. Tell me, how did you miss that less that 15% of the medium and large transport trucks in harm`s way in Iraq have armor 2+ years after the fact? Just didn`t read that far down? Just missed it? What other facts are you talking about?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: Unknown
McQ: Do these numbers:

To bolster that point of view, today we learn that in the 2+ years of this problem which we have known about since the beginning we have this to show for it:

The committee said more than three-quarters of the 19,854 Humvees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait carry protective armor, which can vary in quality. The most secure are factory-armored Humvees, and the Pentagon has received only 5,910 of the 8,105 that commanders say they need. But only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles.


We have 9,128 medium and heavy trucks on the road. Of that total, 1,128 have armor, and we dont even know if thats adequate.

Less than 15% of the total.


... match up with these numbers?

Weve got about 30,000 wheeled vehicles in our theater -- in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas that CFLCC and Central Command operate. Of that 30,000 vehicles, around a little less than 8,000 of them do not have some type of armor protection on them -- level one, two or three. Of those vehicles that dont, some number of them are things like tool trucks, communication vans or vehicles that dont leave the base camp. In other words, theyre trucked up into Iraq -- or in cases before what were doing now, were driven up into Iraq -- and they go onto a base camp, and thats where they spend most of their time.


I don't mean to quibble. There seems to be agreement about the fact that approximately 8,000 vehicles are devoid of armor. But it seems that perhaps a goodly portion of those unarmored vehicles do not necessarily require any. Is that correct?

Of course, it isn't clear how many of such vehicles should have armor, but it does seem like something less than 85% to 90% of them. Am I offbase here?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
McQ: Do these numbers:

To bolster that point of view, today we learn that in the 2+ years of this problem which we have known about since the beginning we have this to show for it:

The committee said more than three-quarters of the 19,854 Humvees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait carry protective armor, which can vary in quality. The most secure are factory-armored Humvees, and the Pentagon has received only 5,910 of the 8,105 that commanders say they need. But only 10 percent of the 4,814 medium-weight transport trucks have armor, and only 15 percent of the 4,314 heavy transport vehicles.


We have 9,128 medium and heavy trucks on the road. Of that total, 1,128 have armor, and we dont even know if thats adequate.

Less than 15% of the total.


... match up with these numbers?

Weve got about 30,000 wheeled vehicles in our theater -- in Iraq and Afghanistan and other areas that CFLCC and Central Command operate. Of that 30,000 vehicles, around a little less than 8,000 of them do not have some type of armor protection on them -- level one, two or three. Of those vehicles that dont, some number of them are things like tool trucks, communication vans or vehicles that dont leave the base camp. In other words, theyre trucked up into Iraq -- or in cases before what were doing now, were driven up into Iraq -- and they go onto a base camp, and thats where they spend most of their time.


I don`t mean to quibble. There seems to be agreement about the fact that approximately 8,000 vehicles are devoid of armor. But it seems that perhaps a goodly portion of those unarmored vehicles do not necessarily require any. Is that correct?

Of course, it isn`t clear how many of such vehicles should have armor, but it does seem like something less than 85% to 90% of them. Am I offbase here?
The large transport trucks are the trucks used to move fuel, armor and the like. They must move off the bases in order to move that equipment to where it is needed. That`s 4,300 of the trucks I`ve cited. As for `tool trucks` and "communication vans", many of those are Humvee based. You wouldn`t waste the hauling capacity of a 5 ton or HMTT for tools or commo. So they`re probably not the 4,800 medium weight trucks there either. I`m not sure what those numbers you cite represent, since they aren`t that specific about the type of vehicle, if they`re only talking about Hmvees or other vehicles. The NYT cite is quite specific.. And I`m certainly not sure what "some number of them...never leave base camp" means in terms of percentages (1%? 90%). I`d also point out that in the absense of a statement which says "none leave base camps", one has to assume that `some number` of them DO leave base camp.

All that to say that based on the information you`ve provided, its rather hard to say one way or the other without a little more specificity. However, that being said, yes, its possible it could be the same 8,000, but if so I`d find it very hard to accept that the total contingent of heavy and medium truck support in theater was restricted to base camp. That`s just infeasable. Those are the haulers, the big boys, and they all can`t be resitricted to base camp if you`re providing logistical support to the forces in the field.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: Unknown
Thanks.
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://
Are we at the stage where once more no criticisim is permitted? Sometimes critics, even ones taking joy and not giving a shit about troops, can be criticizing the right things.

2 YEARS - think where the space program went in 2 years. We're talking extra armor, it doesn't have to be PERFECT, it just needs to be better. And it's taking too damn long.

And Rumsfeld has been, in the past, and WAS the other day, a smartass. These aren't crybabies in the field, it would be one thing if the question originated from the NYT, it wasn't the NYT in that Q&A session with Rumsfeld the other day that cheered when the 'plant' asked the question. Sometimes it doesn't matter WHERE questions originate. I hear people bitching about FORM over substance, like it would be an okay question if a soldier had asked it on his own, but it's NOT an okay question just because someone suggested he ask it.

I guess it's preferable to have IRAQ be remembered in the same way history recalls M4's being called Ronson Lighters in WWII and Chafee's getting blown to the wind in Korea rather than hint Rumsfeld is arrogant and something should have been done sooner than AFTER 2 YEARS.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
It's interesting to me that this question wasn't asked in Iraq, but in Kuwait by a soldier scrounging in prep for a tactical road movement into Iraq.

It is also interesting to me that it has been reported, and may have been known by Wilson and Pitts, that the 278th commander, and his chain of command, said no unarmored vehicle would be driven into Iraq.

I wonder if this is more a story about a bottleneck than lack of resources.

That would also be important to me since bottlenecks present themselves later in the execution phase, can be a result of poor planning but not necessarily, and all the "priority" screaming in the world may not do much to alleviate the bottleneck.

Oh, and McQ, I could care less if you're God's spawn or the devil's, as long as you don't fall asleep on my watch.

Clear?
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
It's interesting to me that this question wasn't asked in Iraq, but in Kuwait by a soldier scrounging in prep for a tactical road movement into Iraq.
I'm not sure why you're surprised it was asked there. If I were him, I'd certainly like a resolution before going into Iraq, wouldn't you?
It is also interesting to me that it has been reported, and may have been known by Wilson and Pitts, that the 278th commander, and his chain of command, said no unarmored vehicle would be driven into Iraq.
Which is fine as far as it goes. But then there's the exigencies of the mission in Iraq which may require they be driven. Obviously that wasn't covered at all.
I wonder if this is more a story about a bottleneck than lack of resources.

That would also be important to me since bottlenecks present themselves later in the execution phase, can be a result of poor planning but not necessarily, and all the "priority" screaming in the world may not do much to alleviate the bottleneck.
It does't appear to be, at least with the Hmvees ... see story on the capacity. However as to the 5 tons and the like see the update to this post. The army just places it FIRST orders for armor kits for 5 tons. Sounds like a priority problem to me.
Oh, and McQ, I could care less if you're God's spawn or the devil's, as long as you don't fall asleep on my watch.

Clear?
I'm a little of both, Tim, but No-Doze is my life.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ, although I haven't responded previously, your posts on this have been annoying to me, not because you "dare ... come down on the side of PVT Joe Snuffy over Donny Rumsfeld", but because, by your tone and blame-apportionment, you seem to take the position that:

1) PVT Joe Snuffy has all the facts,

2) Any facts PVT Joe Snuffy does not have is only the fault of Donny Rumsfeld or others at the very top, and

3) Donny Rumsfeld has 110% control over every facet of the bureaucracy involved in supply and armor-planning.

With regards to the 5-tons, is it that Donald Rumsfeld has a priority problem? Seems to me you are automatically answering "YES!!!" instead of even offering, let alone seriously considering, that the problem may be somewhere else, if it's even a matter of someone's priorities rather that typical bureaucratic SNAFU.

Now, you said in a previous thread that you're a Rumsfeld fan. And I may be misreading your tone because I've been over-exposed to people who jump at every chance to assume Rumsfeld is directly at fault for anything that doesn't work at 100% efficiency in the bureaucracy part of the Army. But it just seems to me that you've been quick to assume that it's all the fault of the guys at the very top in general (the fault of Rumsfeld in particular) and that you've been slow to re-evaluate this assumption in light of new data.

Also, frankly, it comes across as irrational, even if it's not.

To me when something goes wrong in the Army bureaucracy and Rumsfeld gets all the blame, it's like blaming Colin Powell because he didn't fire all the Saudi-owned FSOs when according to State Department rules he wasn't even able to fire one of them directly. (No, it's not the same thing. But it's the closest analogy I can come up with that points out how Cabinet secretaries don't usually have the direct powers common sense says they should have)
 
Written By: Dave
URL: http://www.thepatriette.com/dangerous
McQ, although I haven't responded previously, your posts on this have been annoying to me, not because you "dare ... come down on the side of PVT Joe Snuffy over Donny Rumsfeld", but because, by your tone and blame-apportionment,
Dave: start your own blog and you too can write anyway you wish. My tone is purposeful and I am apportioning blame. That's how this works. I give my opinion and you take it or leave it.
With regards to the 5-tons, is it that Donald Rumsfeld has a priority problem? Seems to me you are automatically answering "YES!!!" instead of even offering, let alone seriously considering, that the problem may be somewhere else, if it's even a matter of someone's priorities rather that typical bureaucratic SNAFU.
My goodness, Dave ... are the bureaucrats in charge of the Defense department or is Don Rumsfeld? What, he only gets accolades, but never the blame? Tell me, why is the first order for armor kits for 5 ton trucks just now being made? SNAFU? Or lack of priority? I see it as a lack of priority. And where are priorities set, Dave? By bureaucrats or by leaders? If you answer the former, then who's fault is that?
Now, you said in a previous thread that you're a Rumsfeld fan. And I may be misreading your tone because I've been over-exposed to people who jump at every chance to assume Rumsfeld is directly at fault for anything that doesn't work at 100% efficiency in the bureaucracy part of the Army. But it just seems to me that you've been quick to assume that it's all the fault of the guys at the very top in general (the fault of Rumsfeld in particular) and that you've been slow to re-evaluate this assumption in light of new data.

Also, frankly, it comes across as irrational, even if it's not.
Maybe its the way you're reading this stuff, Dave, but no one is asking for 100% efficiency, certainly not me. But you tell me ... why is a critical asset like 5 ton trucks just now, 2+ years into this, just seeing the first order for armor? Who's in charge of this? And why shouldn't I hold those in charge responsible for what I see as a SNAFU which was avoidable with a little leadership and a little planning. That's what they're supposed to be there to do for heaven sake.
To me when something goes wrong in the Army bureaucracy and Rumsfeld gets all the blame, it's like blaming Colin Powell because he didn't fire all the Saudi-owned FSOs when according to State Department rules he wasn't even able to fire one of them directly. (No, it's not the same thing. But it's the closest analogy I can come up with that points out how Cabinet secretaries don't usually have the direct powers common sense says they should have)
Well we disagree on a basic point then Dave. I think its a cop out to try and lay responsibility off on the bureaucracy. Hell, do that and nothing is the fault of anyone but the nameless, shapeless, all powerful bureaucracy. Rumsfeld and the generals are blameless, or worse, victims. Look ... Don Rumsfeld has done a lot of good things, or at least gotten credit for them when perhaps it was someone else that really did it. It goes with the territory then that he also get the blame when HIS department (not mine, not the general's, not the bureaucrats) screws the pooch. Like I said once before, and this is learned by every commander from the time they are a green platoon leader: you are responsible for everything that goes well or goes bad in your command ... everything. And Rumsfeld is no exception to that rule.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Just a couple of thoughts from a guy that has played around in government procurement in a previous incarnation.

First,the Pentagon is, as it has to be, a bureaucracy. They attempt to plan for all contingencies, but the never get it completely right because there is always something new in each war. In Iraq their planning for actual combat was acceptably good, considering how well it worked out. On the other hand, it's been something like fifty years since our last major occupation operation so that the data base had pretty well expired. Then too, earlier occupations were in countries where there was little to no actual resistance. Not so good planning for a contested occupation.

Second, there are limits to both funding and logistic resources. You have to have food. You have to have toilet paper. You have to have fuel, of all types. You need clothes, ammo, repair parts. And you have to have armor for the armor kits for the various vehicles. All of this has to be moved with a limited set of logistic transportation capability. You can't just drop some single item and ship armor kits instead. So you just do the best you can. In the next war you may have to trade off whether you ship more HUMVEEs or fewer HUMVEEs with armor.

Then there's money. Congress doesn't write a blank check. They put so much in this account and so much in that account and you have to spend it for that, or lose it. It may not initially be in an armor upgrade account. Wartime appropriations are a little looser, but the principle holds. Yes, some money can be reprogrammed, and a lot is. Do you spend it on more ammo, more food, or more armor? Which is more urgent? The point is, you don't get money instantaneously.

Then, of course, you have to define what it is you want, and how many you want. This has to be done in some detail. Usually in wartime you won't have to compete a contract, but you may. Then the contractor has to get all his subs lined up, hire on extra people, upgrade some of his production capacity, find the materials and get them there, etc. None of this happens overnight. I think it was on Junkyard Blog that I saw a piece today about the problems that the manufacturer of the ceramic armor is having in expanding his production capacity. Once stuff starts coming out the door it goes into the existing logistics bottleneck that I described above.

The miracle is that it works as well as it does. It ain't perfect, but it's better than anybody else in the world. Name one other country that can sustain a war of this magnitude half way around the world for three years without a total mobilization.
 
Written By: John F
URL: http://
The miracle is that it works as well as it does. It ain't perfect, but it's better than anybody else in the world. Name one other country that can sustain a war of this magnitude half way around the world for three years without a total mobilization.
John ... all of what you say is true. But here's another bottom line, a supplier or fabricator can't begin work until he has an order. And that's what I continue to point out here ... why are they just getting the order for armor kits for 5 ton trucks 2+ years after they were identified as a need?

To me its not a procurment problem, its a priority problem. And that isn't a problem with the procurment system. That is a leadership problem.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ:
I'm not sure why you're surprised it was asked there. If I were him, I'd certainly like a resolution before going into Iraq, wouldn't you?
I didn't say I was surprised. I said ... well you quoted what I said, so ....

I find it interesting because I wonder to what degree this is a complaint in Iraq also. It may be that forces in Iraq do not have armoring vehicles as a priority (top, everything is a priority in a combat zone), whereas units that travel into Iraq from Kuwait (logistics or arriving) do.
But then there's the exigencies of the mission in Iraq which may require they be driven. Obviously that wasn't covered at all.
Ahhhh, but should it have been? Should the soldiers and reporter have asked, thought about, or addressed the commander's policy about no unarmored trucks driven into Iraq? Unarmored trucks are loaded/transported into Iraq.

Also, I question whether the M1037 is armored w/o modification.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
I find it interesting because I wonder to what degree this is a complaint in Iraq also. It may be that forces in Iraq do not have armoring vehicles as a priority (top, everything is a priority in a combat zone), whereas units that travel into Iraq from Kuwait (logistics or arriving) do.
Or could it be we just haven't been privy to a "townhall" meeting there where the same questions are asked?
Ahhhh, but should it have been? Should the soldiers and reporter have asked, thought about, or addressed the commander's policy about no unarmored trucks driven into Iraq? Unarmored trucks are loaded/transported into Iraq.
Yes, understood, but that doesn't mean they stay undriven in Iraq nor that they stay strictly on the compounds. If you read Whitcomb's comments carefully, this becomes pretty clear. "Some number" of them stay on the compounds, which means "some number" of them don't.
Also, I question whether the M1037 is armored w/o modification.
Well, that's the claim ... what 'basic armor' means is a whole 'nother thing.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
McQ:

Part of the answer to the 5-ton truck armor question, I suspect, is exactly how the order for armor was developed.

Let's start with timing:

You say it's been two years. But in the run-up to Baghdad, was it likely that trucks needed to be armored? If not, if the need for this sort of thing wasn't recognized 'til after the fall of Baghdad (which is likely), then you're talking about it being closer to a year and a half, if that.

Then, there's the question of basic requirements:

Did this run through the automotive command element of the Army, in which case, you'd probably have some testing and the like? IOW, who wrote the specs for the new armor?

And to what extent does the armor degrade the performance of the vehicle? The armored Humvees are, according to any Army officer who worked on their initial development, bad vehicles, because the additional weight of the armor actually bent the chassis. Never mind fuel efficiency, top speed, and reliability impact on the engines.

My suspicion is that this armor requirement ran through Army bureaucracy, and those rarely, if ever, run fast (and may still wind up screwing up the vehicles).

Then there's the issue of suppliers:

Is this going to have to be bid? If so, is this likely to run past minority-owned, women-owned, and/or small business programmatics? Don't you think this takes time to set up?


Is all this excusing the absence of armor? No, only trying to explain how/why this happens.

Rummy certainly could (and probably should) have taken into account the prospects of an insurgency---but whether that would have led to armoring of support vehicles is unclear at best. It might've led to reissuing of M113s (which wouldn't have armored the support vehicles), as some suggest. It might've led to movement of equipment by convoys earlier. It might've led to mining the verges of all roads (w/ subsequent side-effects for military and civilian populations).
 
Written By: Lurking Observer
URL: http://
Well, that's the claim ... what 'basic armor' means is a whole 'nother thing.


No, really, TM 9-2320-280-10, para 1-18., Tabulated Data, p. 1-22, Change 1.

I question the claim.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
No, really, TM 9-2320-280-10, para 1-18., Tabulated Data, p. 1-22, Change 1.

I question the claim.


Tim, I can't help you there ... your claim may be completely valid ... I just don't know.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Lurking Observer: You're explanation may be entirely true and completely on target.

Which brings me to my initial point.

Who developed the priorities? If we were able to circumvent the procurement bureaucracy for Humvees and get a majority uparmored within that time period, why wasn't the same priority given to 5 tons?

That's a planning and guidance problem, and that problem always lands in one lap ... leadership.

Oh, and read the part about where the kits for 5 tons are being manufactured in the update. They've had that third shift available for 2+ years.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Well, McQ, I've been reading this debate, and I was inclined to come down against your arguments. However, CNN.com now has an article up saying the Florida company that makes the up-armored hummers says they can actually do 550 a month rather than 450. This looks really bad for Rumsfield and company. I'd like to see the full history behind this, but your argument is all of a sudden much more persuasive. Somebody screwed up pretty bad.

Also, I like your argument about finding out what is happening to all the other vehicles. Unfortunately, I won't hold my breath for the media to actually find out, so I suppose we probably won't find out.
 
Written By: Clark Taylor
URL: http://
McQ
Isn't Rummy a proponent of a lighter, quicker, and more rapidly deployable military? And if so, wouldn't uparmoring certain vehicles infringe upon their effectiveness? Thus could part of the requisite-armor divide result from strategic vs. tactical viewpoints?
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
McQ
Isn't Rummy a proponent of a lighter, quicker, and more rapidly deployable military? And if so, wouldn't uparmoring certain vehicles infringe upon their effectiveness? Thus could part of the requisite-armor divide result from strategic vs. tactical viewpoints?
Yes and no, bains. They're kits. That means they can be added or taken off. The situation drives the use or non-use of armor. This situation warrants it as they're not going to be rapidly deploying anywhere from Iraq.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Clark .. thanks. Frankly I'd like to come down against my argument as well ... but I can't.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Actually I was thinking of strategic vs. tactical thinking from the company standpoint, not theater deployment.

An interesting analysis would be tracking KIA/WIA's verses traveling to or engaged in combat superimposed upon the used vehicle's armor. I suppose in these days of gotcha politics (and media) the DoD, understandably, would be reluctant to release pertinent data. Truth suffers when that honest scrutiny is lumped with politically motivated scorn.
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
Actually I was thinking of strategic vs. tactical thinking from the company standpoint, not theater deployment.
Prepositioning can take care of a lot of that, bains. We have prepositioned stocks and vehicles stashed all over the world.

But I understand your point ... essentially what they hope to do is reduce the size of combat units by using technology. The so-called "digital battlefield". A lot of whiz-bang stuff.

While we may go lighter, we have to be at least as lethal (or more if possible) and we have to be better at protecting the force (since there'll be less of them to begin with).

It would then behoove us to deploy tactically with the toughest vehicles we can find. That means a new generation of armor -- ceramic, etc. Light but very effective.

Obviously we're not there yet when you consider that much of what we're doing to uparmor vehicles in the field involves plate armor.

An interesting analysis would be tracking KIA/WIA's verses traveling to or engaged in combat superimposed upon the used vehicle's armor. I suppose in these days of gotcha politics (and media) the DoD, understandably, would be reluctant to release pertinent data. Truth suffers when that honest scrutiny is lumped with politically motivated scorn.
My guess is that probably exits somewhere in the puzzle palace, but, as you note, would never see the light of day for fear of the media reaction (and thereafter the public's reaction).
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
You're eith part of the problem, part of the solution, or part of the landscape.
 
Written By: joe b
URL: http://
They seem willing to accept at face value that 2, almost 3 years into this thing, everything that can be done is being done.
I'm not sure where you are counting from. 9/11/2001? Fall/Winter 2002? Start of Hostilities in Iraq: March 2003? Start of terror/insurgency attacks: June/July 2003? Congressional appropriation for occupation costs including body and vehicle armor upgrades: (when was that, Fall 2003)?

If we were rolling 500 armored Hummers off the line and shipping them to Iraq for 24 months, that would produce 12,000 out of how many, right? Plus uparmor mods in theater? Plus deuce and 5T? Were those a proirity?

Have the tactics of the insurgency been broad enough to create a tension in priority targets? For example, hit embassies and UN (fixed buildings are priority), hit vehicle traffic and shopping areas, hit police recruiting stations, hit foreigners/NGOs, hit military and government convoys, ....

Just want to keep perspective on timelines and not get tunnel visioned on priorities.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
Up-Armored HUMVEE
In autumn 2003, responding to urgent calls from the field, requesting armor suits for the soft vehicles, the US Army launched a crash program to protect many of Humvees. The program proceeded in two parallel directions accelerated delivery of highly protected up-armored vehicle, and implementation of improvised near-term solutions adding some protection levels to the crews. Makeshift armoring of vehicles, and ad-hoc in-the-field solutions became temporary measures by the forces in situ.

On May 2004 the US Senate approved US$618 million funding for the production of 300 M1114s per month from May through October, and 450 per month, from October 2004 till March 2006. $610 million were also allocated for armor kits for existing tactical vehicles. According to Major General John Sattler, Director of Operations for CENTCOM, the US Army initial assessments were that 1,000 up-armored Humvees will be sufficient for patrol, convoy protection and transportation in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, as opposition forces in both countries changed their ambush tactics and IED techniques, the numbers where updated, calling up for 2,500 more M-1114 up-armored Humvees. Currently, production of 2,000 more vehicles are on contract, and expected to be delivered in theater by December 2004, with approximately 4,500 up-armored humvees scheduled to be operational in the theater. In addition, 8,000 up-armored kits are on ordered and being installed to protect windshields and doors for additional vehicles, including trucked and soft skinned Humvees.

As of May 2004, the US Army currently operates several versions of up-armored Humvees - the production model fitted to new vehicles, field modified vehicles, up-armored with the Armor Survivability Kit (ASK) developed by the US Army to improve the protection for Soldiers traveling with standard Humvee. Six Army depots are producing ASK, are scheduled to ship up to 5,000 kits by the end of 2004. In parallel, production of new up-armored Humvees is accelerated. In April 2004, a $110 million contract was awarded to O'Gara, for the supply of up-armored Humvees. By July 2004 the company is planning to increase production rate to 300 vehicles per month, up from the current 220. Many of the remaining vehicles are fitted with steel plates and sandbags, improvised in theater. Battelle has also developed a lightweight armor kit for HMMVWs, The kit weighs around 750 pounds, (about a third of the weight of standard Humvee's armor). By September 2004, 75 initial kits were delivered to special operations units and 400 more are on order.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
If we were rolling 500 armored Hummers off the line and shipping them to Iraq for 24 months, that would produce 12,000 out of how many, right? Plus uparmor mods in theater? Plus deuce and 5T? Were those a proirity?

Have the tactics of the insurgency been broad enough to create a tension in priority targets? For example, hit embassies and UN (fixed buildings are priority), hit vehicle traffic and shopping areas, hit police recruiting stations, hit foreigners/NGOs, hit military and government convoys, ....
Again, its not just about Humvees.

The tactics of hitting convoys in the rear area have been extant since shortly after crossing the LD in Kuwait. Those convoys were mostly logistical (and combat service) convoys. It continues to this day. Why weren't the vehicles which run those convoys and are the most vulnerable given more priorty? That remains my question. The answer to this point appears to be a failure of leadership to set priorities based on critical tasks vs. setting priorities by vehicle class. Cold war thinking ... as mentioned.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
It continues to this day. Why weren't the vehicles which run those convoys and are the most vulnerable given more priorty? ... Cold war thinking ... as mentioned.
That's an interesting view, because the critical task of COMMZ security belongs to the MPs. It has never been a critical task to (re)supply using armored vehicles.

The fact that MSRs are not secure and that "soft" Combat Service (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) vehicles are targets are not a failure of uparmoring EVERY CS and CSS vehicle. We can make that the failure and the priority, but once every vehicle has been uparmored and still fatalities are resulting from armor piercing RPGs and IEDs, then what? Have we fixed the right failure? Have we focused on the right priority?

Maybe this is all we can do. Maybe, in post-Cold War asymmetric warfare, "soft" vehicles represent a combat leadership failure.

That would be an interesting learning point, since our asymmetric forces are light forces and our enemy is not armored. Are we being led into a fortress/armored and slow occupation force? Would a fortress/trench/armor/slow occupation force be Cold War thinking?
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
"The tactics of hitting convoys in the rear area have been extant since shortly after crossing the LD in Kuwait. Those convoys were mostly logistical (and combat service) convoys. It continues to this day."

The idea of ambushing the supply lines has pretty much been around forever. Particularly for insurgents, who prefer the softer target of a supply convoy for the obvious reason that an attack on a softer target is survivable. And the most effective response to it has always been tactical: make it where such an attack is not survivable. The Soviets did this pretty well in Afghanistan through the extensive use of helicopters for resupply/convoy escort and through arming every convoy to the teeth and escorting it with actual combat vehicles.

What's driving this current surge towards armoring is a fairly new phenomenon: the widespread and extensive use of remotely-detonated IEDs to perform stand-alone attacks on vehicles. It's one of those cases where advances in a seemingly innocuous technology (radio remote control and cell phones) has jumped up to bite us in the ass. It takes away our ability to discourage such attacks through decreasing their survivability by making it where the insurgents don't actually have to be there to get shot. Each individual attack is less effective than an oldfashioned ambush (you don't destroy the entire convoy), but it is also basically risk-free and less wearing on the insurgents (not getting shot is, by definition, less wearing), so there can be a lot more attacks.

That also partially explains the high priority the Humvees have received in the armoring scheme. I couldn't find anywhere where this information is compiled, but CPSI and IDI have lists of the casualties in Iraq by month. Even a quick perusal of that list shows that a large majority of the casualties caused by IEDs are among vehicles that are out on patrol rather than among convoys. A resupply convoy can be as elaborate as you want it, with escorts to dress the road ahead, escorts to guard the rear, and other tactics that are being evolved (underloading vehicles to allow slight variations in routes so IED placement is difficult, RF jammers to prevent detonation, etc.). Because of that, it's the individual or small groups of vehicles on patrol that become the easier target since they don't have the same ability to dictate the terms of engagement as a convoy does.

The rest of the explanation of why that these insurgents have no real reason to prefer attacking the supply lines to individual or small units out on patrol is that they don't really care where the casualties come from as long as there are casualties. The traditional reason for attacking the supply lines is to decrease the effectiveness of the frontline unit so you have a better chance of beating it in a standup fight or forcing it to surrender/draw back to re-establish supply/etc. These insurgents know that they can't do either of those with these random IED attacks. Their goal is to win the fight the way that Somalia, Lebanon, and Vietnam were won.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
FWIW: iCasualties.org
Cause of Death DetailTotalPercentage
Hostile - hostile fire36028%
Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack24919.4%
Non-hostile - vehicle accident1108.6%
Hostile - hostile fire - RPG attack584.5%
Hostile - hostile fire - ambush524%
Hostile - hostile fire - mortar attack503.9%
Hostile - hostile fire - car bomb483.7%
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
G.I.S' PAYCHECKS FUND TRUCK ARMOR
But by November 19th, the Pentagon brass realized they had screwed up, Defense Department documents show. There was no way $25.7 million could pay for armoring the M915 trucks, Medium Tactical Vehicles, and other vehicles hauling supplies through Iraq; to do the job right, more like $580 million would be needed. The chiefs had under budgeted, more than twenty-fold.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
Vehicle Hardening

McQ, I hope you don't mind me linking other references. I'm neither endorsing or being critical, just trying to add to awareness and perhaps being overly helpful.

I hope you'll stay with this topic a little longer - perhaps one or two more posts to help focus both how this fits in the area of strategic and tactical thinking.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
McQ, I hope you don't mind me linking other references. I'm neither endorsing or being critical, just trying to add to awareness and perhaps being overly helpful.

I hope you'll stay with this topic a little longer - perhaps one or two more posts to help focus both how this fits in the area of strategic and tactical thinking.
Tim: I don't mind a bit ... in fact, thank you. I'm going to keep following it for sure. I've got an article from today's AJC that I'm considering, but regardless, keep linking ... I appreciate it.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Terry:
The rest of the explanation of why that these insurgents have no real reason to prefer attacking the supply lines to individual or small units out on patrol is that they don't really care where the casualties come from as long as there are casualties. The traditional reason for attacking the supply lines is to decrease the effectiveness of the frontline unit so you have a better chance of beating it in a standup fight or forcing it to surrender/draw back to re-establish supply/etc. These insurgents know that they can't do either of those with these random IED attacks. Their goal is to win the fight the way that Somalia, Lebanon, and Vietnam were won.
Insurgencies like to attack the weakest part of any military opponent. And, as you point out, IED's are fairly new. Armor up the Humvees and they're less likely targets (the kill ratio won't be as high). Thus the concern for the 5 tons and HEMTTs.

One thing the military is working very hard on is a jamming device which would be with each convoy which would jam the signals from remote control devices. Thus far they're not as good as they'd like them to be (range or reliability) but they'll find a way to make it happen.

Until then everything traveling those roads should be given priority for armor ... in my opinion.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
"Until then everything traveling those roads should be given priority for armor ... in my opinion."

Absolutely no doubt that the insurgents will shift tactics when pressured. The way they have evolved the use of IEDs should serve as ironclad proof of that. Which brings up another couple questions in my mind, since our soldiers are not the only ones traveling the roads over there:

First, we've got a lot of contractor vehicles running around doing reconstruction work. Many of them are specialty vehicles that are necessary for the work and for which there really aren't any equivalent military vehicles the contractors could use instead. Assuming we get all of our military vehicles armored to the point of probable survivability where possible, these seem like the next best target for putting pressure on American public opinion (certain individuals that just say "screw-em aside). How are we going to protect those contractor vehicles from this type of attack while reconstruction continues?

The second is the Iraqi police and military vehicles. We're already putting a lot more responsibility on them and that trend should only increase. Given the pressure of elections, which the insurgents don't want to see happen, I think they are going to be an even more desirable target than the Coalition in the eyes of insurgents in the days to come. What kind of vehicles do they have? Armored? Unarmored? Are we going to see this whole thing repeated with them once our vehicles have become less desirable targets? I've not been able to find jack on the Iraqi forces on the internet. Has anyone else?

Note, this is a speculation on things to come as they relate to this issue, not an argument about whether our priorities in the past have been correct. You have your strongly stated opinion on that and so do I. It is certainly not an argument that we should not take care of our soldiers and vehicles first. I do think it is important to consider, however, since it directly affects the possible success of our mission there.
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
RebelRouser.net Milblog, worth checking (via Greyhawk)
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
Note, this is a speculation on things to come as they relate to this issue, not an argument about whether our priorities in the past have been correct. You have your strongly stated opinion on that and so do I. It is certainly not an argument that we should not take care of our soldiers and vehicles first. I do think it is important to consider, however, since it directly affects the possible success of our mission there.
As I stated somewhere in this malange of posts and comments, one of the things I disagree with is the way the priorities were done, or at least the way it APPEARS they were done.

As I see it they decided that an entire class of vehicles should be given priority vs. considering the critical vehicles necessary for the mission and giving them priority. Had they done the latter, you'd most likely have seen 5 tons and HEMTTs receiving armor at about the same time as the critical Humvees.

As the enemy shifts his tactics we have to be flexible enough to shift our priorities. That means a plan, which encompasses extensive war gaming (if he does this, we do this) and the development of branches and sequels to deal with those tactical shifts.

I'm of the opinion none of that was done (that's what plans officers and planning cells are for ... I know, I was one and I ran one) and instead, it appears an expedient "let's fix the Humvees first" became the "plan".

I'm pretty unforgiving about laziness like that Terry. Had I been the boss of whoever came up with that "plan" he or she would be unemployed, at least as a plans officer.

I know this may seem nitipicking or even irrelvant to some, but its important. Staffs owe the soldiers the best planning they can muster, and what I see here is a far cry from that. Now I may be wrong, but my experience and what I've been able to see (excess capacity, etc)says I'm not.

So what we have to hope for, given all the changes you note above, is that this time they sit down and work out the plan with branches and sequels and then have the ability to react properly when Mohammed the Insurgent decides to go after Mustafa the Iraqi policeman or Kamal the Iraqi soldier, etc.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/
Town Hall transcript is up. Greyhawk also has a link to Galloway's column to go with the AJC's column by Chapman/Martz.
 
Written By: Tim
URL: http://
"As I see it they decided that an entire class of vehicles should be given priority vs. considering the critical vehicles necessary for the mission and giving them priority. Had they done the latter, you'd most likely have seen 5 tons and HEMTTs receiving armor at about the same time as the critical Humvees.

As the enemy shifts his tactics we have to be flexible enough to shift our priorities. That means a plan, which encompasses extensive war gaming (if he does this, we do this) and the development of branches and sequels to deal with those tactical shifts."

As I see it, the two problems with this statement are:

#1. You are still treating a passive defense (armor) as the ONLY solution to the problem that has been implemented. It may well be for Humvees that are used for patrols, as they ultimately do not have very much choice about going into areas where the enemy operates relatively freely. While the supply vehicles are just as mission critical as the Humvees, the contribution that they make to the mission is of an entirely different kind. Their exposure to the enemy can be much more effectively controlled than the exposure of the Humvees can. That is the purpose of the operational policies that you blithely dismiss as "just policies."

#2. I see absolutely no evidence of a shift in enemy tactics to exploit the softer supply vehicles. They have been focusing on the patrol vehicles the whole time, and appear to continue to do so if the casualty reports aren't lying. It is entirely possible that we have the "branches and sequels to deal with those tactical shifts" that you require, but have never seen them because their implementation has not been necessary. I've certainly never seen any evidence that resupply has been a problem large enough to degrade our combat effectiveness or actually threaten the success of the mission in Iraq. We'll never know at this point, however, because the implementation of maximum feasible armor on every vehicle has become a politically necessary contingency.

"I'm pretty unforgiving about laziness like that Terry. Had I been the boss of whoever came up with that "plan" he or she would be unemployed, at least as a plans officer."

Odds down, I think you've got to know a hell of a lot more than I've seen to be able to call an emphasis on the Humvees from the start as "laziness."

You might be right. On the other hand, your superiors, gifted with the omniscience of 20/20 hindsight (as they ALWAYS are!), might decide that "armor everything to the maximum extent possible" is just as "lazy" a solution as "armor the combat vehicles to the maximum amount possible."
 
Written By: Terry
URL: http://
I'd like to know why these humvees or trucks weren't coming stock from the factory armored. To answer this, we may need to look back at the Clinton years. After all, there's only been 9 years between the two wars.
 
Written By: sam davis
URL: http://

 
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