The U.S. Army and Marines are rapidly backing
away from the thousands of armored
trucks (MRAPS), Congress gave them $17.6 billion (50 percent more money than
originally requested) to buy last year. With violence rapidly declining in Iraq
(and never that high in Afghanistan to begin with), the 17,000 MRAPs the
politicians promised to buy are now being seen as a long term liability. These
12-20 ton trucks are harder to maintain than hummers, are not very good off
roads, are too heavy for over 70 percent
of the world's bridges, tip over too easily and are a rough ride for passengers
when on bad roads. The generals fear getting stuck with these behemoths, to the
exclusion of new weapons and gear that they believe are more needed.
Meanwhile, work on MRAP II has been
halted, mainly because the chief additional feature of this new model,
protection from Iranian EFP (Explosively Formed Penetrator bombs, was more
effectively provided by installing additional armor (like the Frag Kit 6) to
existing MRAPs. Then there's also the "problem" of fewer EFP attacks, or IED (roadside bomb) attacks
in general. For much of the past year, only a few U.S. troops a month were
being killed by roadside bombs, and these were usually troops not travelling in
MRAPs. EFP attacks have declined because Iran fears retaliation, and wants to
play nice for a while.
The main problem with MRAP is that it
is a specialized vehicle. Unless you are dealing with an opponent who is big
into roadside bombs, MRAPs are not the most efficient armored vehicle to have
in your inventory.