Urgent Needs Needed Urgently

MRAP.jpg

Our friend Nick Schwellenbach over at the Project on Government Oversight sent DT an interesting set of documents that deals with the Marines difficulty obtaining gear under urgent needs requests.

Nick writes:

Despite over 130 urgent need requests (known as Joint Urgent Operational Needs (JUONs) or Urgent Universal Needs Statements (UUNSs)) from 1 MEF while it was deployed in Iraq, less than 10 percent were fulfilled and many were "cancelled, delayed" or led to solutions which were not asked for.

Before November 2006, the document says that the requests "frequently languished" at Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) level until Central Command Chief of Staff (CoS CENTCOM) "intervened," restoring urgency to the process.

But more intriguing is the section on page eight under the heading MNF-W needs competed against funded programs.JUNS-web.jpg

What this shows is the tension between procurement programs that are already underway for the next generation of equipment and the commercial-off-the-shelf products that answer the needs of troops in the field now.

Case in point is the MRAP debate. USA Today reported yesterday that commanders realize that despite the robust construction of the massive transport, EFPs can still penetrate their thick shells. The dialectic of measure-countermeasure continues.

The services have been redirected to spend $20 billion on MRAPs even though the ONR initiative stated in the presentation is ongoing (thats the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program the next generation Humvee).

The list continues with current UAVs vs. future ones, counter mortar systems in development and autonomous logistics vehicles that could be delivered now versus those that are in experimentation.

One has to wonder whether throwing money at a war thats losing political support is prudent. Officials claim the MRAPs wont be fully deployed until 2009. Does anyone believe the need for them will be as great after the next president is inaugurated as they are now?

And what of the other programs? When Congress demands a peace dividend for getting out of Iraq, will it be so willing to devote billions to next-generation UAVs and Humvees when MRAPs and ScanEagles are sitting in motor pools and airfield hangers?

Well, of course, follow closely as all this shakes out. But it seems as if the real procurement battles have already begun.

(Thanks again to Nick for the gouge...)

(Photo: Navstar MPV, courtesy DID)

-- Christian

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