Others discuss the future of MRAPs

Briefly, with very little comment for lack of time, a few months ago, a Jon Grinspan wrote this in American Heritage magazine:

Yet the Humvee’s biggest drawback may actually be the false sense of security it imparts. American troops, many military theorists now argue, are too removed in their vehicles, fighting for Iraqi hearts and minds with a drive-through mentality. The open-air jeep meant that soldiers could, and had to, interact with the people of occupied nations; the closed, air-conditioned Humvee has only isolated American forces from Iraqis. This is even more of a problem with the MRAP, which offers only small, armored windows to peek out of. Though the tactics of the current surge seek to get troops out of their vehicles more often, many politicians involved in the debate over Humvees assume—perhaps erroneously—that more armor means more safety and success.

Today, Noah Shachtman at Danger Room quoted from a Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments report (pdf):

Counterintuitively, it may also be that a better way to reduce overall US casualties is to have personnel operate outside their vehicles. Successful counterinsurgency (COIN) operations, in particular, require close contact with the local population to provide them with security and to develop a working knowledge of the local environment that, together, produces the intelligence necessary to defeat an insurgent enemy force. This approach is similar to law enforcement techniques that emphasize policemen “walking the beat” in a neighborhood as opposed to merely driving through it in a squad car. Simply put, commanders may have to risk some casualties in the near term, by having their troops dismount, in order to develop the secure environment that yields the intelligence that will reduce the insurgent threat—and US casualties—over the longer term. Given this approach, which is consistent with the military’s new COIN doctrine, the MRAP—at least in this situation—may send the wrong message to troops in the field…

It is very likely we will see similar post facto discussions with unmanned ground systems.

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2 Replies to “Others discuss the future of MRAPs”

  1. I plan on chatting about this topic next week. There’s a CRS report on the FY08 defense budget that notes the Army’s planned ratio of MRAPs to HMMWVs in Iraq is 1:7, while the Marines ratio is 1:1. One has to wonder as to the disparity of those two plans. Combined with the CSBA and other comments, I want to reinforce the idea (which Dave Axe won’t like) that we shouldn’t have rushed into this MRAP procurement just because of a knee-jerk emotional “oh we must protect the troops at all costs” cry.

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