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Monday, February 12 

It's Called A Light-Skinned Vehicle For A Reason

There is a new WP article out today about the lack of armor upgrades for Humvees. Ever since this war began, I've heard countless people, including people I work with, complaining about the lack of armor on Humvees, how Bush isn't doing enough to protect our troops, etc., etc.

Please allow me to give you a brief lesson in military vehicles. The Humvee is, for all intents and purposes, a glorified Jeep. It was never designed to be an armored vehicle. In fact, most of the Hummers you see whipping around military bases in the U.S. have a piece of canvas covering the back. The first thing they tell you in Basic Training is that it is a "light-skinned vehicle". This means don't hide behind it, because it won't stop a bullet.

The Military has vehicles for just such a purpose; they're called Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (like the M2 Bradley.

Click here for a complete list of Armored Vehicles from around the world. Notice that nowhere on that list will you see the Hummer.

The article includes this quote:
The Army began the Iraq war with an estimated $56 billion equipment shortage and has struggled to keep up with demands for new armor to protect against increasingly deadly bombs. In the case of FRAG Kit 5, the Army quickly produced a bolt-on version in limited quantities, while the permanent version has taken longer than expected to develop, test, produce and install.
What they don't point out is why we have that short-fall. I blame two men for this, Bush H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

I know a lot of you are shocked by that statement, because I'm bad-mouthing a Republican President, but here's why.

I lived in Europe during Bush 41's tenure. I lived through military budget cuts, base closings and troop reductions. The cold war had just "ended" and Democrats were everywhere declaring victory and spouting how we no longer needed such a large standing army. We were, after all, victorious. Why should we waste all that money of defense when there was no one left to attack us?

So Bush took this normal route of appeasement and gave them pretty much anything they wanted. The base where I lived in Germany reverted back to the Germans in 1993. The base where I graduated from High School assimilated the personnel from four or five surrounding bases, all of which closed.

Under Clinton the budget cuts got worse. Here are some of the cuts under Clinton's watch:

  • 709,000 regular (active duty) personnel.

  • 293,000 reserve troops.

  • eight standing army divisions!

  • 20 Air Force and Navy air wings with 2,000 combat aircraft

  • 232 strategic bombers.

  • 9 strategic ballistic missile submarines with 3,114 nuclear warheads on 232 missiles.

When George W. Bush took office, the military was 40% smaller than when Clinton took office. We were attacked, and we responded.

Unfortunately, when you go to war you don't go with the army you wish you had, you go with the army you have.

Bush could have sat and waited, increasing military funding and building the military before making a move. But how many more attacks would have happened in the mean time?

So next time you're sitting around the table at lunch, listening to people complain about the lack of protection for our troops, you can be the source of enlightenment for them.

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