…when an Administration takes war fighting…
This from today’s NYT. Snipped down, but I commend the entire article to your attention as an example of what thorough and well-written journalism can look like.
June 26, 2005
Safer Vehicles for Soldiers: A Tale of Delays and Glitches
By MICHAEL MOSS
When Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Iraq last year to tour the Abu Ghraib prison camp, military officials did not rely on a government-issued Humvee to transport him safely on the ground. Instead, they turned to Halliburton, the oil services contractor, which lent the Pentagon a rolling fortress of steel called the Rhino Runner.
State Department officials traveling in Iraq use armored vehicles that are built with V-shaped hulls to better deflect bullets and bombs. Members of Congress favor another model, called the M1117, which can endure 12-pound explosives and .50-caliber armor-piercing rounds.
Yet more than two years into the war, efforts by United States military units to obtain large numbers of these stronger vehicles for soldiers have faltered - even as the Pentagon's program to armor Humvees continues to be plagued by delays, an examination by The New York Times has found.
Among other setbacks, the M1117 lost its Pentagon money just before the invasion, and the manufacturer is now scrambling to fill rush orders from the military. ...
And the Rhino could not get through the Army's testing regime because its manufacturer declined to have one of its $250,000 vehicles blown up. ....
Nearly a decade ago, the Pentagon was warned by its own experts that superior vehicles would be needed to protect American troops. The Army's vehicle-program manager urged the Pentagon in 1996 to move beyond the Humvee, interviews and Army records show, saying it was built for the cold war. Its flat-bottom-chassis design is 25 years old, never intended for combat, and the added armor at best protects only the front end from the heftier insurgent bombs, military officials concede.
Marine Corps generals last week disclosed in a footnote to their remarks to Congress that two of their best-armored Humvees were destroyed, while a Marine spokeswoman in Iraq said five marines riding in one such Humvee were killed this month in a roadside bomb attack.
Still, thousands of Humvees in Iraq do not have this much protection.
The Defense Department continues to rely on just one small company in Ohio to armor Humvees. And the company, O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, has waged an aggressive campaign to hold onto its exclusive deal even as soaring rush orders from Iraq have been plagued by delays. The Marine Corps, for example, is still awaiting the 498 armored Humvees it sought last fall, officials told The Times.
At roughly $700,000 each, the M1117 is considerably more expensive than the current $140,000 price for an armored Humvee.
"This decision is based upon budget priorities," Claude M. Bolton Jr., an assistant Army secretary, wrote to Congress in 2002. Existing vehicles, he added, can be used instead "without exposing our soldiers to an unacceptable level of risk."
Yet the military was reluctant to mass-produce the armored Humvee, with many in the Army agreeing that the vehicle made little tactical sense.
By the time the Iraq war started, the Army had been ordering only 360 armored Humvees a year.
"We never intended to up-armor all the Humvees," said Les Brownlee, who was the acting Army secretary from 2001 until late last year. "The Humvee is a carrier and derives its advantage from having cross-country mobility, and when you load it down with armor plating, you lose that."
But just months into the war in Iraq, it was lives the Pentagon was losing, and it reached for the quickest solution.
Labock Technologies, which makes the Rhino Runner in Israel, thought it had the best advertising ever. Besides posting photographs of Mr. Rumsfeld aboard the Rhino at Abu Ghraib, the company has pictures of a shackled Saddam Hussein going to court last summer, with the headline: "So safe. ... some V.I.P. won't ride anything else."
Well I guess nothing’s too good for Our Boys Overseas, as long as Our Boys Overseas work for Halliburton.
This is simply despicable, and its easy to get caught up in the numbers and the details of procurement and lose sight of the problem, which is this: the Republicans never took this war seriously.
They took the marketing seriously, because they are, after all, hucksters of the First Water. From the soles of their dainty cloven hooves, all the way up their just-tweaked-enough-for-a-Vietnam-deferment-but-not-too-tweaked-for-skiing backs to the tops of their spongy heads... shrill, shilling, Ponsi-scheming dirt-pushers are all that this Administration has ever been.
And as has been ably and amply reported elsewhere, the took the politically-insulating benefits of having a War President seriously. Djinning up a war with Iraq, as all but the most deeply Hume-d and Kristol-ed degenerates can now see, was a contemptible means to a series of craven ends, and not the end in itself.
And they took the Neocon Masturbatory Fantasy Outcome of the War seriously. Ripped to the tits on the Ouroborean narcotic effects of eating the lotuses that were growing out their own asses, the PNAC Daisy Chain saw a Brave New World of unfettered capitalism. One where they ruled the Earth by fiat and fancy. Where star chambers, unelected Directorates and contract-mercenary armies completely replaced courts, representative governments and a military that was answerable to civilian authority and was obedient to a legal chain-of-command. All paid for by oil revenues looted from conquered nations.
And what good luck that all of that yummy yummy Oil sits under a bunch of Muslims and ay-rabs! That made getting the Racists (GOP) and Segregationists (GOP) and the Fundies (GOP) to back their play ever so much easier.
Because despite what the Rove Machine spews out to its base, this isn’t WWII or WWI or the American Revolution: this is nothing less than a reprise of the Conquest of the West. Complete with dark skinned savages sitting on vast natural resources that our Robber Barons lust after...and a barely reworded version of Manifest Destiny, decked out in enough flashy fake Benevolent Christian Conqueror jewelry to keep your eyes bedazzled while your pockets are picked and atrocities are committed in your name.
But like all sleazy used car salesmen, the one thing they never, ever took seriously was the performance of the car itself.
They packed the pre-war rhetoric with enough straw and sawdust and hand-soap so that it stood up to a quick run around the block...if you were actually stupid enough not to bother to look too closely.
High on that sweeeet New Conquest Smell, 51% of the country wasn’t disposed to even so much as kick one rotting tire, or ask one pointed question about the warrantee, and signed over their kid’s college fund and the mortgage on their homes.
And 49% of this country was shouted down as traitors who Hate America when we tried to find out what that pool of blood was doing under the car, and where that that decomposing-flesh-stink in the trunk was coming from.
The one thing this Administration never gave a shit about was the fighting of this war.
If they did, instead of barnstorming the country trying to convince grandma to let him eviscerate Social Security, key players in the Administration would have spent the last year hitting every college and university that has a significant Young Republican presence and recruited the hell out of them.
If they did, instead of sullying the words of Franklin Roosevelt by letting cowards use them to pimp their lies and failures as Righteous Successes, they would have used the Roosevelt model to ask their wealthy Masters for sacrifices. Even small sacrifices.
Asking them to help pay for this war.
Asking them to become their “Dollar a Year” men.
Asking them the sell War Bonds instead of sinking the profits from their latest tax cut into the bond market.
But if they’re going to shield their incompetence behind History, well OK, lets take the vehicle shortage and see what would happen in War Fighters had been in charge of War Fighting, instead of glib liars.
Here are a few of the statistics on US Weapons Production from World War Two from 1942-1945 (the source I used is here.)
Heavy tanks --- 2,464
Medium tanks -- 55,560
Light tanks --- 26,003
Jeeps --- 631,873
Combat aircraft - 129,255
Support aircraft - 80,930
When we were serious about fighting a war, we could cut through to bullshit and produce enough aircraft to blot out the sun, and enough tanks and Jeeps to cover a county.
When we were serious.
Are the stats perfectly comparable?
Of course not, but they’re vastly more on-point than all of Cheney’s mendacious drivel about the Battle of the Bulge and Pacific Island Hopping.
Don’t even factor in the billions in oil that has been stolen from Iraq on our watch. Or the criminal war profiteering from the likes of Dick Cheney’s Halliburton that bleeds our treasury more every day. Take just the nine billion dollars that has been looted already.
Divide by the 700K price tag of a Rhino Runner.
That’s nearly 1,300 Rhinos we could have on the ground – today – if the planning and execution of this travesty had been anywhere near as focused and detailed as the sales pitch.
And in case you hadn’t noticed, Ford announced in 2002 it intended to lay off 22,000 workers in North America, and GM is getting rid of 25,000 employees world-wide.
So add up the factors:
- A troop carrier capable of keeping our brave men and women safe from what every expert said was the mostly likely source of danger they would face in Iraq.
- A vehicle manufacturing labor market that already has such substantial amount of excess capacity that it’s laying people off right and left.
- A government happily spending money it doesn’t have like an armada of drunken-sailors-at-light-speed on a war it should never have launched.
So why in Hell do soldiers scrounge for hillbilly armor while the Secretary of Defense rides in high style in Halliburton’s Heavily Armed Recreational Vehicle?
Because of a fact of life that most of us above the age of 16 have figured out, but still continues to mystify the GOP rank and file: because hand-jobbing hucksters don’t give a damn what happens to you once you drive their shitwagons off the lot.
Because there’s simply no profit in it.