Friday, December 31, 2004

Saving Lives Costs Money!

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson has a message for the American people, particularly those whose cars sport magnetic ribbons that say "Support Our Troops": protective armor is expensive. And besides, no one thought we'd need it, because everyone knew that the Iraqis would greet us with candy and flowers.

Bolting extra armor on Humvee utility vehicles undoubtedly saves soldiers' lives, but it also adds indirectly to operating costs, a senior Army officer said Thursday....The extra 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of weight on each Humvee causes the vehicle's suspension system to wear out three or four times faster than normal, Sorenson said. The extra weight also adds to fuel consumption, he said.

The vast majority of Humvees were not armored initially because they were not intended for use in a high-threat environment and the Army had never seen an IED threat like it faces in Iraq.
Got that, soldiers? You don't have armor because your government is stingy, stupid, and in utter thrall to amoral hucksters like Ahmed Chalabi.

But what I find completely amazing is the claim that our Humvees "were not intended for use in a high-threat environment." What on earth is a war, if not a "high-threat environment"?

In a sane world, quotes like Sorenson's would cost Rumsfeld his job, if not his freedom.


Sue123 said...

I just sent that one to the Hack (David H. Hackworth).

Phila said...

Thanks, Sue! I can't even imagine what it must be like for someone like him to watch BushCo start this useless war, and then fail at fighting it...

Anonymous said...

It is a stupid comment, especially given the Pentagon's habit of - as was said some a few centuries back in different circumstances - trying to fight wars by "breaking windows with guineas".

But it's not an intrinsically silly idea; the humvee was designed as a modern version of the WWII-vintage jeep, basically an all-purpose all-terrain light vehicle, to do a hundred and one jobs, mostly in the rear - a contemporary book describes it as intended to replace a large number of generally unarmoured vehicles (and pictures it with canvas! doors) As such, whilst building it to take light armour was sensible, it was never expected to be in the battleline (some versions carried anti-tank missiles, but armouring a jeep against a tank leads to you building a tank) - and this was the 1980s. Guerrillas in the rear areas, or local insurgencies, just Weren't The Sort Of Things the Army talked about.

But in the context of a major war, yes, the Humvees weren't intended for use in a "high-threat environment" - they were intended as support vehicles, not the Armoured Fighting Behemoths that were considered The Proper And Appropriate Way To Fight Wars at the time. (This opinion is still common, as may be noticed reading between the lines.) So it does make some sense, when you consider when they date from. A "high-threat environment" then involved having a brigade of T-72s pouring over the hill at you...

-Andrew Gray

Phila said...

Interesting comment, Andrew...thanks! I now see that I phrased this very badly. I wasn't intending to ask "how could they think that Humvees weren't fit for a high-threat environment?" I meant to ask "how could they think that Iraq wouldn't be a high-threat environment?" In other words, if Humvees aren't intended for use in a war zone, why are our troops using them in a war zone...and more to the point, how can this be considered a valid explanation for why they're not armored? It didn't come out that way, though...thanks for pointing out my error!