Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Senator, The Provocateur, and The Armor

Senator Dayton has demanded an investigation into why there are not more up-armored vehicles in Iraq. KSTP, the local ABC affiliate, interviewed a couple in Cloquet whose son was killed by a Rocket-Propelled Grenade that hit his unarmored truck. They support Senator Dayton's initiative.

It is sad that this couple's son was killed. It is also sad that they are being given information that armor would have saved his life.

The M1A1 Abrams tank purportedly has the most advanced armor in our inventory. Take a look at this picture of what a new RPG can do to this tank.

Remember that one of the arguments against the Strategic Defense Initiative is that the enemy will simply make a more advanced missile, rendering our shield obsolete. This is true of any shield or armor. We build a better shield; they build a better weapon. What is lost in this discussion is that the troops have better equipment than the troops had in the First Gulf War, Somalia, Bosnia, or Kosovo.

Here is a comment I sent to Powerline on the subject of body armor and armored Humvees:

For what it's worth, I was involved in the training of troops
for missions in the former Yugoslavia from 1997 to 1999. I also served six
months in the Balkans during that time. Conventional wisdom was that there were
6 million unexploded landmines in the former Yugoslavia, as they were the
manufacturer of landmines for all of the Warsaw Pact nations. The first battalion
we sent from Fort Riley had every soldier equipped with a special non-magnetic
mine probe in case they were caught in a mine field. They must have determined
that to be overkill, because they stopped attaching the probes to their body
armor at some point during the mission. All of the Humvees were required to be
the type with kevlar composite doors and polycarbonite windows. Sandbags were
also placed under the seats and on the floorboards, if possible, to protect
against landmines. I am not aware that any of the "up armored" Humvees we talk
about today were used in Bosnia during the late 1990s. I did see a Special
Forces guy on a transport plane to Germany who seemed to have a more advanced
set of body armor than I did. It looked more comfortable, even if it covered
less of the neck and shoulders. My point is that troops were sent into a country
that was believed to contain 6 million landmines. The trucks and Humvees did not
have armor that could protect against an explosion from underneath. They had to
pile sandbags on the floorboards. The troops did not have the most advanced body
armor. Where were the MSM investigative reports on force protection back in

Finally, I am reminded of a confrontation between Al Franken and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz shortly after Baghdad fell. Franken made some comment to Wolfowitz that the war had been won with "Clinton's Army." Whether or not the previous commander-in-chief can take credit for military (or economic) successes of the current commander-in-chief is a debate for another day. It is fair to say that planes, trucks, and other manufactured vehicles do not magically appear on inauguration day. So does this mean that "Clinton's Army" failed to properly armor the vehicles?


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