It took long enough. But "in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday [here's the prepared version], the Armys civilian chief pledged that by next week, no soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan would drive outside the base perimeter in an unprotected vehicle," Defense Daily reports.
Francis Harvey, the new secretary of the Army, told committee members: After Feb. 15, no vehicle carrying an American soldier will leave a protected base without armor.For months, the Armys top officials have been under fire over a failure to send enough armored vehicles into the theater of operations... Harvey, in his first appearance before the committee, said the Army had tackled the problem, increasing the number of armored vehicles in theater by a factor of more than 100 since August 2003.In the fall of 2003, when the insurgency in Iraq began to intensify, there were approximately 250 armored tactical wheeled vehicles in theater, Harvey said... By months end, Harvey continued, at least 32,500 tactical wheeled vehicles will be in the Iraq and Afghan theaters, and they will be protected.Those figures include more than just up-armored Humvees, which come in a number of variants, including factory-modified vehicles and those equipped with bolt-on armor kits.Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who also testified, noted that the full range of Army vehicles--including the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, Heavy Equipment Tactical Transporter, Palletized Load System truck and fuel tankers--are now being equipped with some form of up-armoring.The public focus has generally been on the Humvee -- weve made real progress on the Humvee, he said. The real boost has been in the fact that we are now armoring every wheeled vehicle -- trucks, HEMMTs, HETTs, PLS trucks, tankers, all of this.I'll take Harvey and Schoomaker at their word. But their accounts seem to run head-first into a December report by the AP that "of more than 9,100 heavy military haulers in Iraq, Afghanistan and nearby countries, just over 1,100 have received upgraded protection." Harvey and Schoomaker's testimony would also appear to contradict what the New York Times had to say about Army National Guard's trucks, back in November.
There are plans to produce armor kits for at least 2,806 medium-weight trucks, but as of Sept. 17, only 385 of the kits had been produced and sent to Iraq. Armor kits were also planned for at least 1,600 heavyweight trucks, but as of mid-September just 446 of these kits were in Iraq.Anyone wanna guess who's telling the truth and who's spinning here?