TRUCKS STILL THIN-SKINNED

m1084_small.jpgThe Hummers are protected, mostly. It's the trucks that are in trouble.The AP is reporting that "of more than 9,100 heavy military haulers in Iraq, Afghanistan and nearby countries, just over 1,100 have received upgraded protection... By comparison, the military has decided it needs almost 22,000 armored Humvees in the war area. It has 15,334; an additional 4,400 await armor add-ons and the rest have not been delivered to the region."But getting those additional Hummers could take a long, long time, if current production plans hold. According to this Bloomberg article (via Sullivan), "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.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said yesterday the Army was working as fast as it can and supply is dictated by "a matter of physics, not a matter of money.'' A Pentagon spokeswoman declined comment.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 an interview today."We're prepared to build 50 to 100 vehicles more per month,'' Mecredy said in the telephone interview. "I've told the customer that and I stand ready to do that.
Why the hold-up? My guess -- and I'm checkng up on this now -- is that money for armor (especially truck armor) wasn't even in the Pentagon's budget in the first place. Rather, Rummy & Co. decided to put off funding for such projects into a second, "supplemental" bill for Congress to pass.Manehwile, the Times gangs up on the armor issue, and gives us some great color from Kuwait:
At the transit camps in Kuwait, Army and Marine Corps drivers weld antishrapnel collars onto the hoods of their trucks, to deflect exploding debris while maintaining visibility. Sandbags are laid on the floors of Humvees, trimming the skimpy legroom from economy class to steerage. On the battlefield, there is an air of resigned acquiescence about the lack of armor, rather than bitter complaints. Among units that lack armored Humvees, the mood 20 months into the war tends more to black jokes than to recrimination."If they i.e.d. you in this thing, there won't be enough of you left to package up and send home," a Marine sergeant said earlier this week, as he showed embedded reporters to one of three open-backed Humvees assigned to a raid on a suspected rebel stronghold raid south of Baghdad. Among troops in Iraq, i.e.d., for improvised explosive device, is shorthand for the roadside bombs that have killed about two-thirds of Americans who have died in combat.At briefings, commanders resort often to an old Marine adage, "Improvise, adjust, overcome," and are dismissive of complaints.
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