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The “Ultimate Betrayal”? - Humvee realities.
NRO ^ | December 21, 2005 | W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Posted on 12/22/2005 12:57:29 AM PST by neverdem

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The “Ultimate Betrayal”?

Humvee realities.

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Why is it taking so long to design, develop, produce, and deploy — in adequate numbers — a troop-transporting armored vehicle that would replace the up-armored Humvee in Iraq? I've been asked that question time and again, not by soldiers and Marines who ride in Humvees daily, but by fellow journalists, many of whom have logged time in Iraq or Afghanistan.

One reporter said to me it was "criminal negligence" on the part of the White House and the Defense Department. Another referred to it as "the ultimate betrayal" of our soldiers.

Despite their time in country, both reporters are wrong: Their opinions are based more on political animus than any real grasp of the facts.

CONSIDER THE FACTS

First, there is no vehicle in existence — nor with current technology could there be — that would protect passengers from all varieties of explosives and ballistics.

"We can protect from some," Brigadier General David L. Grange (U.S. Army, ret.) tells National Review Online. "But now that the IEDs [improvised explosive devices] are made with shaped charges or just an extraordinary amount of explosive power, even an M-1 tank isn't safe enough. [Even if it was] you can't just give everyone an M-1 tank, especially if they are moving logistics."

Grange, a CNN military analyst and the former commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division, adds, "As a demo guy in special forces, I used to make shaped charges. You combine a small charge with a funnel and it will go through a Bradley Fighting Vehicle."

Second, is the variable of active and passive protection in a combat zone.

"If you're running around in an up-armored SUV on a security detail to protect the ambassador, you stand out," says Grange. "So sometimes its safer just to be riding around in the city in a Renault just like all the other cars. Sometimes its safer not to have the armored protection."

Third, the Humvee (officially the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, or HMMWV), which is currently in wide use throughout the world with all branches of the U.S. military, was simply not designed to protect against IED threats.

"It took them nearly ten years to define all the requirements and fully test prototype Humvees, then go into full production," says Mike Aldrich, vice president of sales and marketing for Force Protection Inc., which manufactures mine-and-blast protective vehicles like the Buffalo and Cougar currently in service with the U.S. Army and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. "It's a significant production run in that there are a lot of those vehicles that would have to be replaced [if that is the answer]."

Which leads to the question, "Why Humvees in the first place?" The answer: The post-Cold War military wanted to shift from the heavily armored mindset (defending against Soviet tank divisions) toward a lighter, faster, more-flexible, strike force. The weight of armor simply slows down the vehicles, thus reducing the speed of the strike force.

THE UP-ARMORED HUMMER

Humvees, which replaced the Jeep in the 1980s, have since performed as well as they were designed to perform. But in 2003, the IED was brought to the fight. The Army responded by launching a crash program to up-armor the thousands of Humvees in Iraq in late 2003.

The following May, the U.S. Senate approved $618 million for the massive production of up-armored Humvees through the spring of 2006. Another $610 million was also approved to up-armor the existing tactical vehicles (neither of which help the fact that the vehicle has a flat-bottom — as opposed to a V-shaped hull bottom — leaving it still-vulnerable to landmines and IEDs.). Meanwhile, the U.S. Defense Department has been looking into new, safer vehicle designs and posting "requests for information" to determine which companies could and would manufacture a new vehicle from scratch. None of which could have been accomplished in anyone's army in a few weeks or months.

"We've gotten ourselves all mixed up trying to get lighter and more lethal," Lt. Gen. John Bruce Blount (U.S. Army, ret.), former chief of staff of Allied Forces Southern Europe tells NRO. "We have tried to do more with that vehicle than it was designed to do."

YEARS TO DEVELOP

Initially, whenever I asked Defense officials and defense contractors why it was taking so long to build a vehicle that could do what the Humvee does and simultaneously protect passengers, I kept getting the same four answers:

These things take time.

Replacing the Humvee is not really what it's all about.

The Humvee was not designed to handle mine and IED attacks.

It is far more complex than anyone realizes.

As I began to dig deeper, I discovered the truth in the answers.

An example of this is the U.S. Air Force's brand new air-superiority fighter, the F-22 Raptor, deployed for the first time last week, 20 years after it was conceived. Many of the pilots flying them today were in diapers at conception. And the past two decades have involved a series of tightly deadlined design phases, testing, development, contracting, and then manufacturing.

It was the same with the M-1 Abrams tank. "It took 24 years of research and development, test and evaluation before that tank was ready," Blount says. "The best minds in the Army who had been through armored warfare in World War II and Korea were there, and they had to keep going back to the drawing board to make changes and improvements as new situations and new threats emerged."

Blount adds, "The Army knew when it decided on the Abrams tank, that we were going to be stuck with that tank for 40, 50, 60 years. You can't just build 10,000 of a certain vehicle that is not going to be adequate six months after it is in service There is also an enormous amount of money involved, plus the logistical maintenance to be built up behind the vehicle to take care of it."

FAST TURNAROUND IN WWII?

My reporter friends who talked about "criminal negligence" and "betrayal," pointed to World War II and America's rapid aircraft industry as a basis for their argument. After all, we were thrust into the war in December 1941. We went on the offensive in 1942, and by late 1945 some 12,700 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses had been built.

Fine. But what they don't realize is the B-17 made its first flight as a prototype in the summer of 1935, six years before it was ready for deployment, which just happened to be the same time we entered the war. Once deployed, losses were horrible. Thousands of B-17's were shot down or crashed in training over the course of the war. In the summer of 1944 alone, nearly 1,000 B-17s were lost and nearly 10,000 B-17 airmen were killed over Europe.

GO WITH WHAT YOU'VE GOT

"Like Rumsfeld says, 'you go to war with the military you've got,'" says Blount.

Indeed, and the U.S. military went to war with superb conventional armored and unarmored vehicles that proved to be extremely effective until the terrorists began waging war with IEDs.

"The Americans never realized that the insurgents would start the type of war that we ourselves ran into in Africa and everybody ran into in Croatia," says Dr. Vernon Joynt, chief scientist for Force Protection who also served as a scientific consultant for the South African Army. "But in South Africa it was landmines, not suicide bombers or the roadside bombs. The Americans are facing all three threats," among others.

Joynt adds, "A vehicle designed with mine-and-blast protection as its priority focus is not part of conventional thinking. Conventionally armored vehicles are aggressive vehicles: Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Strykers. Those vehicles are designed to be fighting vehicles."

A SHIFT IN THINKING

The new mine-and-blast protective vehicles have emerged out of low-intensity warfare environments where the so-called "aggressive role" played by the traditional armored vehicle is deemed less important than simply keeping passengers alive. In the face of the new IED phenomenon in Iraq, conventional acquisition teams — project managers and senior military officers — have had to reshift their battlefield mindsets.

That does not mean they were slow in that reshifting. On the contrary, when reports began rolling in from the field about the toll roadside bombs were taking on the troops in 2003, orders were immediately placed around the world for vehicles which had mine-protective design characteristics similar to the old South African Army and police vehicles. But even those vehicles were not 100 percent mine and IED proof. Nothing is.

"The next step was to essentially launch an entire new industry," says Joynt. "And that is not easy."

BRINGING OTHERS ONBOARD

Presidents, Defense secretaries, and generals can't just issue orders that vehicles be built.

Once all options are weighed, including accepting the realities like weight reduces speed and nothing can protect against all and changing threats, the military makes the decision as to exactly what type of vehicles it needs to win wars and save lives.

Then the big vendor companies — like General Dynamics, United Defense, and Boeing — which are geared-up to manufacture large numbers of already contracted combat armored vehicles, aircraft, and other weapons systems; must choose to compete for the new project by conceptualizing, designing, and developing a new system which ultimately their company may never be contracted to produce in numbers large enough to justify their own development. Yet, those companies have to retool some of their operations for specific R&D if they hope to compete. The risk and cost is enormous.

Consequently, smaller start-up companies able to expend all of their energies on a specific design characteristic or particular vehicle are often the best way for the government to go: But only if those companies have the start-up capital to begin designing without a contract.

Then the companies — whether monolithic defense contractors or small start-ups hoping to win a big government contract — have to factor in the reality that the dynamics of the battlefield are constantly changing. For example: Lately, there have been fewer IED attacks in Iraq, but the mines and the roadside bombs are much larger.

Each time the threat changes, the scientists have to go back to the labs; the engineers to their drawing boards; the marksmen, explosives experts, and test drivers back to the ranges.


FORTHCOMING MINE-AND-BLAST PROTECTION

Earlier this month, I became the first journalist to ride in the prototype vehicle for what may well be the replacement for the up-armored Humvee. The prototype vehicle is known as the Mine-protected Utility Vehicle/Rapid Deployable (MUV-R). Earlier names included "Lion," that name was scrapped because, as Joynt says, the King of Swaziland's armored vehicle was christened, "Lion." The next name was "Kodiak," but Chevrolet was first with that moniker.

The MUV-R's manufacturer, South Carolina-based Force Protection, is currently producing much-larger mine-and-blast protective vehicles — the Buffalo and the Cougar — which are already in service with U.S. forces in Iraq. The Buffalo, which CBS News' Bob Schieffer called a "Humvee on steroids," is a mine-clearance vehicle. The Cougar is a troop transport, but geared for the same market that the M113 armored personnel carrier would be. Not a Humvee.

Therein lies the problem.

"The Humvee is a glorified jeep," says Blount. But the Army and Marines are now using the Humvee for a purpose for which it was never intended.

So it's not so much a question of replacing the Humvee, as much as it is developing a brand new armored vehicle with the same speed, climb, and general off-road performance capabilities of a Humvee.

That may well be the MUV-R, and that vehicle could be on the ground and running in the fourth quarter of 2006, a phenomenal feat considering the concept was realized one year ago. And vehicles weren't initially slated to roll of the line until 2007.

Today, a fully armored proof-of-concept vehicle is charging over the hills and racing around the mud and red clay roads in the backcountry of South Carolina, not far from where the Buffalo and Cougar are manufactured in Ladson.

At 10-12 tons — more than twice the weight of an up-armored Humvee — the MUV-R cruises at 65 miles per hour with burst speeds of up to 80. It can carry 6-to-10 fully armed soldiers, and it has a roof-mounted weapons system, remotely controlled by the right front-seat passenger, giving a whole new meaning to the term, "riding shotgun."

Moreover, the vehicle's design features can enable it to withstand — basically deflecting — enormous blast and ballistic impact from every angle.

A NAVY SEAL ON A MISSION

Force Protection is not the only manufacturer of mine-and-blast protective troop transport vehicles. Other manufacturers, include General Dynamics (currently producing the RG-31 in South Africa), Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Textron Systems (producing Germany's Dingo 2), and Kuwait-based Granite Global Services.

The latter was founded by U.S. Navy SEAL Reservist Chris Berman, who was working as a Blackwater USA security officer in March 2004 when four of his Blackwater buddies in thin-skinned SUVs were ambushed and killed in Fallujah. After escorting home the body of his close friend, Scott Helvenston, Berman committed to building a vehicle that would save lives. Today his new guns-bristling armored vehicle, "The Rock," is in service with both private contractors and DoD agencies.

Like the Buffalo, the Cougar, and other newly deployed vehicles, The Rock has been stuck by rifle fire and IEDS. Fortunately, none of the vehicle's passengers have been injured or killed.

DoD is also fleshing out concepts: For instance, the U.S. Office of Naval Research is testing various private designs and is developing its own Ultra Armored Patrol vehicle, known as ULTRA AP, for testing purposes.

BEST VEHICLE FOR THE JOB

The best vehicle for the job is one that can best protect passengers from bomb attacks at all angles. The vehicle also needs to retain or improve upon the significant capabilities that the Humvee does in fact provide in its role as a standard utility vehicle.

Safer, high-performance vehicles are being developed. Some have been deployed. But it's easier said than done.

A former U.S. Marine infantry leader and paratrooper, W. Thomas Smith Jr. writes about military issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans and on the West Bank. He is the author of four books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications.


 

 
http://www.nationalreview.com/smitht/smith200512210805.asp
     



TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Germany; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; Technical; US: District of Columbia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: armor; humvee; ied; iraq; miltech; oif; uparmoredhumvee; wheeledarmor

1 posted on 12/22/2005 12:57:31 AM PST by neverdem
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To: neverdem
"THE ROCK" (IED-proof APC?) SURVIVES IED BLAST


2 posted on 12/22/2005 1:13:39 AM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: Anti-Bubba182
The wheels are too small on that. It would work only on a paved road. The army needs something more like this:


4 posted on 12/22/2005 1:17:46 AM PST by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: Scottyboy568

Hmmm....since the marines have no active para units except force and radio recon guys I dunno if the guy was in force.

He probably just went to jump school and said he was a paratrooper, though never on jump status.


5 posted on 12/22/2005 1:21:11 AM PST by Liberfighter (The NSA- The Ultimate Google)
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To: FreedomCalls

I think they want something more than a HUMMER and less than a striker. As far as the off road quality, I believe most, if not all, IED casualties were on roads.


6 posted on 12/22/2005 1:22:17 AM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Scottyboy568
You're right about no 'paras' being in the Marines, at least not in the Army sense of the word.

You're either jump qualified or your not and there are no specialized 'paratroop' units in the Corps.

L

7 posted on 12/22/2005 1:25:28 AM PST by Lurker (And everyday the paperboy brings more...)
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To: FreedomCalls
The army needs something more like this:

How does the Italian Army fair with IEDs?

8 posted on 12/22/2005 1:31:57 AM PST by adamsjas
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To: Lurker

The Dems complain about combat vehicle deficiencies, but when in power, gut the military budget needed for correcting said deficiencies (ala Clinton, ala Carter).

In the Carter era, we were reduced to buying commercial (civilian) pickup trucks and just painting them O.D.

Ok for State side duty, but for combat????


9 posted on 12/22/2005 1:33:56 AM PST by OldArmy52 (Terrorism...the action arm of the DNC)
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To: OldArmy52
I was in the Corps just after Reagan was elected. I remember taking marksmanship training with M-14s because there weren't enough 16s to go around.

No that I found that to be a bad thing, I loved that 14.

But, I remember seeing lots of beat to crap Suburbans around Pendleton and we were issued what must have been WWII vintage 1911s.

L

10 posted on 12/22/2005 1:38:28 AM PST by Lurker (And everyday the paperboy brings more...)
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To: Robert A. Cook, PE; PoorMuttly; El Gato; JudyB1938; Ernest_at_the_Beach; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; ...
U.S. Troops Want a Better Bullet Comment 45 has an assessment of Iraq and the weaponry used there. Comment 91 has the best description of terminal ballistics in 5.56 mm rounds that I've seen.

From time to time, I’ll ping on noteworthy articles about politics, foreign and military affairs. FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

11 posted on 12/22/2005 1:43:30 AM PST by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
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To: FreedomCalls
I like NASCAR's contribution in design...



12 posted on 12/22/2005 1:51:43 AM PST by kingu
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To: Scottyboy568
By the way, I couldn't help noticing the author's tagline - there is no such thing as a U.S. Marine paratrooper.

That's just because Marines don't need parachutes.

13 posted on 12/22/2005 2:00:04 AM PST by Caipirabob (Democrats.. Socialists..Commies..Traitors...Who can tell the difference?)
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To: neverdem

Dingo - All Protected Vehicle

14 posted on 12/22/2005 2:13:37 AM PST by sumocide
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To: FreedomCalls

Kinda like this?
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6b/Stryker-IFV-50cal.jpg


15 posted on 12/22/2005 2:18:50 AM PST by raynearhood ("America is too great for small dreams." - Ronald Reagan, speech to Congress. January 1, 1984.)
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To: neverdem
Why is it taking so long to design, develop, produce, and deploy — in adequate numbers — a troop-transporting armored vehicle that would replace the up-armored Humvee in Iraq? I've been asked that question time and again, not by soldiers and Marines who ride in Humvees daily, but by fellow journalists, many of whom have logged time in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Note who's asking the question, first off (hint - reporters). I've got your answer. You're a dope reporter who can't even spell engineering, much less understand the requirements of weight, fuel efficiency, load capacity, serviceability, etc. That stuff takes time to get right, and guess who'll be the first critic in line if anyone of those and several critical factors in vehicle design are omitted or shirked.

That said, I think the telling point here again is, who's asking the question? It's not the military.

16 posted on 12/22/2005 3:34:13 AM PST by Hardastarboard
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To: neverdem

Other problems would be cost performance, and mass productivity. It could be very challenging with a limited military budget to afford costly heavy armored vehicles for every soldier, just like all the fuss about F-22A Raptor for its price. If the cost goes high, I would expects the Dems would slam on this creating more headaches. Well, they were a headache in the first place anyways.


17 posted on 12/22/2005 3:38:47 AM PST by Wiz
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To: neverdem

I strongly recommend M1117 ASV-150 as the next generation of Hummers under new threats, with configurations for multi-purpose role. It's cost performance is good enough to handle certain tactics of guerilla warfare, and be produced in mass. It's more expensive than M1114, but much cheaper than Strykers.


18 posted on 12/22/2005 3:42:06 AM PST by Wiz
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To: neverdem
The HUMVEE was produced to replace the jeep and the weapons carrier (3/4 ton truck).

Compared to those two vehicles the stock HUMVEE was an order of magnitude improvement. It was never designed or intended to be an armored vehicle, although it did have some bullet resistant properties..

As Rumsfeld has said, "you go to war with the army you have, not the one you wish you had.
19 posted on 12/22/2005 3:45:41 AM PST by Beckwith (The liberal press has picked sides ... and they have sided with the Islamofascists)
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To: neverdem

Posted yesterday.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1544593/posts


20 posted on 12/22/2005 4:30:46 AM PST by Ninian Dryhope ("Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers." The inestimable Mark Steyn)
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To: Scottyboy568
It didn't say that he was a Marine Paratrooper, it said that he was formerly a Marine and formerly a Paratrooper, which is quite possible.
21 posted on 12/22/2005 4:32:35 AM PST by Ninian Dryhope ("Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers." The inestimable Mark Steyn)
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To: Ninian Dryhope

There is a special group of Seals that go by the name of Leap Frogs. Covert insertion by means of parachute.


22 posted on 12/22/2005 4:43:54 AM PST by mazda77
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To: Scottyboy568
there is no such thing as a U.S. Marine paratrooper

They call them parachutists.

23 posted on 12/22/2005 5:04:18 AM PST by Cannoneer No. 4 (Kandahar Airfield -- “We’re not on the edge of the world, but we can see it from here")
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Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: OldArmy52

You hit the root of the problem.


25 posted on 12/22/2005 6:15:31 AM PST by jammer
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To: neverdem
The Humvee is a replacement for hte Jeep for God's sake. It was never supposed to be an armored vehicle.
26 posted on 12/22/2005 7:31:13 AM PST by Servant of the 9 (Trust Me)
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To: neverdem; Ranger; archy; Criminal Number 18F; blanknoone; PsyOp; xzins; centurion316; Thunder 6; ...
Hit keywords UPARMOREDHUMVEE and WHEELEDARMOR to learn all about this topic.

Short version:

IED's are just another name for command detonated mines.

Only tankers are guaranteed armored vehicles. Everybody else has to make do with the ride they have.

M1114's became the ride of choice not because they were the best but because they were already in the system. MP's had them, and other units pressed into service as provisional MP's wanted them.

Purpose-built wheeled armored fighting vehicles with V-shaped, blast-deflecting hulls were known to provide superior performance and protection to the M1114, but except for the M1117 ASV they weren't invented here.

Kerry and Kennedy and Meehan and Bayh politicized the hell out of the whole issue.

27 posted on 12/22/2005 9:04:05 AM PST by Cannoneer No. 4 (Kandahar Airfield -- “We’re not on the edge of the world, but we can see it from here")
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To: Scottyboy568

W. Thomas Smith, Jr. graduated from the University of South Carolina (USC) with a BA degree in history. He served in the United States Marine Corps as an infantry leader, parachutist, and shipboard special-weapons security and counterterrorism instructor. Following his hitch in the Corps, he served on a para-military SWAT team in the nuclear industry.

http://www.uswriter.com/main.htm


28 posted on 12/22/2005 10:45:05 AM PST by Ninian Dryhope ("Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers." The inestimable Mark Steyn)
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To: neverdem
Psychological Armor
 
rense.com



By JB Campbell
6-23-5
 
Here's one reason that so many American soldiers and marines have died in Iraq...
 
Back in 1981, I was the head of a bulletproof car company in Monterey, California. We'd construct a box made of Lexgard inside a limo or regular car. It was pretty effective but difficult to install. Lexgard is General Electric's transparent polycarbonate armor, very effective at stopping handgun bullets. If you put a hard surface in front of it, such as glass or sheet metal, it will stop rifle bullets. After the bullet hits the hard surface it is upset slightly on its axis and is then trapped in the dense but crystal-clear polycarbonate material.
 
The FMC factory was in nearby San Jose. I read a story about the troubles with the aluminum armor on their new Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The Bradley was having PR problems already but now the issue was the armor. Aluminum is a bad material for armor, since it doesn't stop bullets very well. When they come through, they cause something called "spall," which means that the pieces of the armor itself become deadly little weapons. And aluminum burns.
 
The army, though, wanted to save weight so they told FMC to make the Bradleys out of aluminum. (FMC was later sold and is today United Defense LP, owned in part by George Bush's Carlyle Group.)
 
So I went to FMC and proposed to line the inside of a Bradley with Lexgard, the way we did with limos. This would protect everyone from spall and fire, because Lexgard is fireproof and non-toxic. Installation would have been relatively easy in the boxy Bradley. I was politely turned down.
 
Puzzled, I called Dr. Charles Church, the head of research at the Pentagon. He said, "Listen don't try to modify an existing vehicle. If you want to do something, design it from the ground up and make your armor integral with your chassis."
 
So that's what I did. I came up with something I called "The FLEA," which stood for, "Forward Light Escort, Armored." I used an unknown but powerful fiberglass armor for the body with hardened Lexgard windows. It was to be hydraulically operated with its wheels almost two feet away from the body, for protection against tank landmines. My design was based on my experience with landmines in Rhodesia as a member of their security forces in the terror war in the 70s.
 
Shortly after my design was complete (1982), the army put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a new vehicle they called the "High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle," or "HMMWV." The new Jeep and light truck. I duly submitted the FLEA to Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) in Michigan.
 
After a month or so, I called TACOM and inquired as to the progress of the selection process. The officer said, "The FLEA yes, I have it here Oh, yeah this is armored. We don't want armor."
 
I knew the specification they wanted. The bodywork had to defeat the equivalent of a pellet fired from a pellet gun. Something like 19 grains at 435 feet per second. Something silly like that. I mentioned this to the officer. "Yeah, right. We call it psychological armor'"
 
"'Psychological armor?'" I let that sink in to my brain. "You mean, the guys just THINK they're sitting behind armor?"
 
He chuckled. "Yeah, pretty much."
 
"But, " I said, "I'm under the weight requirement even with the armor. Why not give them the protection?"
 
"That's not what we want."
 
I kept trying to get some interest in the vehicle for its own sake, as a tank killer, not as a Humvee. No sale. Well, actually, there was some interest. I got a retired general to promote it to the army's Advanced Development Experimental Agency at Ft. Hunter Liggett. They liked it and sent it to their commander at Ft. Lewis, who liked it and sent it to TACOM, who didn't like it again.
 
In 1993 I took a chance and put $80,000 into building the rolling (unarmored) chassis, so people could actually see its basic dimensions and logic. The army still wasn't interested, apparently not wanting to believe that a lightweight vehicle could do what I advertised.
 
Then I forgot about the whole thing til 2000, when my old friend, Skip, persuaded me to go to a symposium on humanitarian demining in Monterey. I made some good contacts, such as the general who became the head of Army Materiel Command. He was vitally interested in mine protection. But I became vitally interested in humanitarian mine removal. I thought the FLEA would be ideal for this noble effort, since I was by this time a serious opponent of the US Army, the US government and war. I also had been blown up by an anti-tank mine in Africa in 1973 while riding in a police Land Rover, so I appreciated the mine problem made famous by the late Diana, although she was involved more in the small but terrible anti-personnel mines.
 
By 2003, I moved to Las Vegas and became partners with a guy who liked my humanitarian plan. The FLEA was now patented and protected here and overseas. I began to seek support for the humanitarian version of the vehicle. It turned out that the US Army in charge of humanitarian demining, so they were invited to come to Las Vegas to view the now-armored rolling chassis. The two men who came were the director of combat development at Fort Leonard Wood and a man from Night Vision Labs in New Jersey, a retired colonel. The men were astonished on seeing the FLEA. One said that he'd been asking TACOM for just such a design for years, that is, a lightweight vehicle that could withstand the hit of an anti-tank mine. He was told repeatedly that such a vehicle was impossible. "But here it is," he marveled, "this is how you beat the tank mine, with your wheels way outboard."
 
It was clear there was no budget for a humanitarian demining vehicle, but there was great interest in this thing for Iraq.
 
The FLEA is designed to keep moving with the loss of one or even three wheels. By now the design had replaced the hydraulic operation with hybrid-electric drive and steering and air suspension. And it had six wheels instead of four.
 
The man confided several secrets to us, secrets about the Bosnian adventure and about the six-month old invasion of Iraq. American vehicles were unusable in Bosnia, he said, due to their gross weight. "The roads and bridges couldn't support them and they never left the airport." This would continue to be a problem even in Iraq, where the ballyhooed "Stryker" vehicle would collapse roads and bridges and roll over into canals and drown crewmen.
 
He said, "You've obviously solved the tank-mine problem, but the real threat in Iraq is the IED (improvised explosive device)." The IED would continue to cause 70% of US casualties to this day. He revealed that even the Future Combat System requirement for mine protection was only against anti-personnel mines!
 
 
But, of course, the real scandal is the ridiculous Humvee, perhaps the most preposterous idea of all, after the invasion itself. A preposterous invasion needs a preposterous vehicle.
 
First of all, the Humvee is just an aggressive-looking station wagon. It has four doors, unless they are removed. If you want to shoot out from the thing, the doors have to be removed, so you can swing your rifle around. That's what we did in Rhodesia, with our Land Rovers. Took the doors off so that when we drove into an ambush we could return fire and save ourselves. The Humvee's windows don't roll down, so you can't shoot with the doors closed. And it's pretty silly to open the door and try to stick your rifle out with the thing swinging around as you're trying to return fire, escaping up the road. A real tactical vehicle has no roof, either, so that you can see and shoot at an overhead threat.
 
As we saw with the "psychological armor" bit, it doesn't really matter if the doors are on or off, because you have no protection either way. With the doors off, you can at least shoot back. With the doors on, you're a sitting duck. And the real problem is not bullets, but blast from IEDs. Serious armor protection was called for! Duh.
 
So, when enough people started getting killed in these things, the army decided to armor them. It went from the ridiculous to the insane.
 
Meanwhile, TACOM (now TAACOM) sent engineers from its R&D group, TARDEC, to Las Vegas for discussions with us in January, 2004. We also had representatives from Michelin, Eaton-Vickers and the armor manufacturer in San Antonio (Safeguard Security) and others present, plus men from Senator Harry Reid, who was backing the project. The TARDEC men said that the landmine requirement for Future Combat System vehicles would have to be rewritten now, due to the FLEA's design. The FLEA would be funded for 2005 and Senator Reid's military liaison said that if TARDEC would go ahead and use some discretionary funds for 2004, the senator would pay them back in '05, so as to get this wonderful vehicle to the troops this year ('04). This was agreed to by the TARDEC men. By all accounts it was an unprecedented meeting of army, industry, political and us entrepreneurs. Michelin has a fantastic new plastic wheel/tire combo that is virtually indestructible. They were interested in introducing it on the FLEA. So were we. And so was the army. I regaled everyone with the story about Psychological Armor. The chief engineer from TARDEC squirmed and said quietly, "Let's hope that doesn't come out"
 
Later in January my partner and I flew to Washington DC to meet with Senator Reid's chief counsel, the US Army Materiel Command and the State Department's landmine removal personnel.
 
The Army Materiel Command had tried to get us into business with United Defense, mentioned above. The general thought if UD went ahead and built the prototype, the army could purchase it that way. But United Defense wouldn't do it without millions of dollars being paid to them first. That's how they're used to doing things. It's the Halliburton method.
 
All went well until we got back to Las Vegas. The army had investigated us and found that we were both politically incorrect. Perhaps "incorrect" is not strong enough a word. Disastrous is the word. Actually, I'd been in a strange situation, a true enemy of the state wandering around the capital of enemy-occupied territory, going into the Senate and House office buildings, gathering congressional support for the FLEA. Several congressmen and two senators signed on with Senator Reid. Reid's senior counsel asked me to draft a letter from Reid to Rumsfeld, which I did do. Reid, Ensign and Carl Levin signed it, along with some congress-people on the House Armed Services Committee who had raised hell with the army chief of staff a couple of days earlier over the failures of the Humvee. My future seemed secure! Anything for the troops! I turned out to be quite an effective lobbyist.
 
Jeremy Hekhuis was Carl Levin's assistant in the Senate Armed Services Committee office. His eyebrows raised on hearing the Psychological Armor story, since by that time quite a number of GIs had been killed in un-armored Humvees. "Well, let's hope that that doesn't come out"
 
However, I was the guy who started the militia movement back in the late 80s, with my book, The New American Man. I had also written quite a bit since then against the US government and against the state of Israel, as I still do from time to time. In my book I had actually called for the overthrow of the Zionist US government. No one took me very seriously in 1989 except for the government. The militia movement did take off around 1991 but all it really did was stockpile a bunch of guns and ammo. The FBI and CIA, though, thought that I was very serious, which I was. They followed me everywhere for a year or more. They sent informants to get friendly with me.
 
The Secret Service in 1991 threatened to kill me if I was anywhere near President GHW Bush, currently the head of United Defense. There was irony all over the place.
 
Senator Reid's chief counsel now said that the army and the senator would have nothing to do with the FLEA because of what I had written about Israel! That was all that mattered, my criticism of Zionism and its control of the US government. The glaring need of a safe vehicle became irrelevant.
 
Frankly, I was relieved. The whole thing had gotten out of control. I, of all people, trying to protect the troops. Did the troops deserve a decent vehicle? Not really, since they're nothing but vicious, mindless war criminals, like their commander-in-chief and his Zionist controllers.
 
But maybe the parents of the 1,700 dead troops (or is it 9,000?) and the thousands of injured and maimed troops would not appreciate the army's need to avoid offending the Zionists by refusing on principle to deal with a helpful villain such as I. I'd had a bumper sticker on my truck since 2002, when it appeared that Bush was going to invade Iraq for his own personal reasons: "Bush Is A Liar And An Oil Thief." That was a year before the invasion. I had been severely injured by two poisonings in Las Vegas over that bumper sticker, or maybe the other one, which read, "Stop Obeying Our Zionist Parasites." I paid heavily for my "free speech" right.
 
I gave the patent to my friend, Skip. It's in his name now. What he does or doesn't do with it is a matter of complete indifference to me. My wife and I are involved in another, much more important project.
 
Before we leave this ridiculous (but true) story, let's see what happened to the Humvee. It got "armored."
 
While we were still friendly, Senator Reid had encouraged us to visit the Nevada Automotive Test Center near Reno. This is truly a fantastic if unknown place. Situated on a million acres in the desert and mountains near the ruins of Ft. Churchill, NATC is the test bed for most new military vehicles and many civilian vehicles. The engineers are the best and they know what is needed for vehicles to survive the worst military and off-road conditions. They even have a half-mile oval track with electronic controls under the pavement so that big rigs can be run for a million miles with no drivers, to be stopped only for fuel and maintenance.
 
The owners gave us the royal treatment and they were enthusiastic about improving the design of the FLEA so that it would pass all tests and be immediately accepted by the army, as well as perform even beyond what I and my design engineer, himself a Medal of Honor winner (Vietnam), had designed it to do. John Martin had also been blown up by a Soviet TM-46 tank mine, as had I. The FLEA is undoubtedly the only vehicle designed by two guys who'd survived tank mine explosions in lighter vehicles.
 
When we got there I was surprised to see fifteen or so stripped down Humvees parked around the place. Bolted to the front and rear of each vehicle were heavy weights. The chief engineer explained that the army wanted these Humvees tested with the added three thousand pounds to simulate the weight of the new armor kits and OEM armoring that was to be done. The army wanted to test tire wear with the extra weight. Early results showed that the tire wear had gone all to hell.
 
The NATC guys had just come back from Iraq. Talk about tire wear! Talk about well, you name it. The supply convoys out of Kuwait are run like this: 60+ miles per hour for the 900 mile round trip. If anybody gets ambushed or breaks down, he's on his own. The convoy keeps rolling! See you on the flip side. Or not.
 
When the vehicles get into the built-up areas, there are nine-inch square curbs along the streets. If there is a problem with a breakdown or ambush, all vehicles have to crash over the curbs to get around the stalled vehicle. This tends to destroy the front ends of all the vehicles. Alignment is not possible. Tires last a few thousand miles. No vehicles will be returned to the US after the war because they are all trashed. This of course makes the truck and car makers very sad, because they all have to be replaced. Se le guerre!
 
But here is the reality of the "armored Humvees:" These essentially half-ton civilian vehicles in camouflage paint are not designed to have three thousand pounds added to them. That's three times more than their payload in the first place, which means that with the armor added, they have no payload! Instead of carrying four soldiers, they can only carry three. But that's better because only three guys will be killed instead of four. Killed by an IED or by an RPG or killed by the heat.
 
An early modified Humvee was hit by an IED in Baghdad. The officer reported that "the ass end was blown off and we were stranded, but they couldn't hit us with bullets" They had to get out pretty quickly, though, and brave the bullets because the stranded wreck was soon hit by an RPG. This was the idea behind the FLEA: you have to be able to drive away from the kill zone without having to get out and walk.
 
There's no air conditioning on any military vehicle. The FLEA would have been the first because it was designed that way. What's the inside temperature of a vehicle in Iraq in the summertime? Pretty much like Las Vegas or Phoenix: over 140. In one of these jobs with sealed, inch and a half thick windows, we can just feel the heat stroke starting. And you still can't defend yourself in one of these rolling ovens because the windows don't open. The doors do, if you're on level ground they weigh 200 pounds. Don't stick your rifle out this open door because if it swings shut, it'll bend your barrel.
 
These are the kit cars, the ones with aftermarket armor kits. Then there are the new ones, the "up-armored" ones. These guys are so heavy that they had to be totally redesigned with more powerful engines, transmissions, suspensions, brakes just to handle the weight of the armor. There's no payload either because they're just barely designed to carry their own weight, which is pretty dumb.
 
Back in '82, when the HMMWV was being designed, the US Army must have thought it was never going to be shot at, ever again. That's the charitable view. A more realistic view is that the US Army doesn't give a damn if the troops get shot at or not. They're expendable, just like the vehicles. The army must come up with a way to procure more of them for our next excellent adventure in Zionist genocide.
 
 
Comment
From Robert Patrick
6-26-5
 
In the 1980s, I bounced around a lot of corporations as a temporary employee (a benefit and tax dodge used by corporations against the American people). At one particular corporation, I heard a rumor, I was not a witness, but this came from a reliable source who was a regular employee of this corporation.
 
The corporation had a contract to supply Humvees (at that time, I had only heard it referred to as "The new Jeep") and trailers that were constructed on site. The trailers were to haul very large diesel engines used for electrical generators.
 
The plans called for armor on the trailers, but NOT on the Humvees. The generators were not expendable on the battle front, and were to be protected; not so for the men.
 
There were some patriots working there at the plant (some how got past the personnel office and were hired at a corporation, don't think that could happen today), they approached the foreman, who approached a higher up, who approached the Pentagon. An offer was made to supply the armor on the Humvees at no additional cost. That offer was turned down. Another offer was made to provide "double doors" at no additional charge. The type doors where the top half can be opened, as the bottom half remains closed. That was also turned down.
 
The way this was pitched to the higher-ups at the corporation was that, right now, they had a small contract to supply a few vehicles. If they were able to sell the Pentagon on a couple of modifications that the vehicles obviously needed, then that small contract might turn into a very large contract. So the corporation was open to the idea of supplying a better vehicle to our troops, but the Pentagon was not. The Pentagon required a safe vehicle for their generators, but not for our troops. The contract was not expanded, and one employee was fired for embarrassing the Pentagon.
 
Robert Patrick

 


29 posted on 12/22/2005 11:32:27 AM PST by MRMEAN (Better living through nuclear explosives)
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To: neverdem

This is what happens when you have clueless and self-righteous reporters.

The Army isn't going to replace all of its -utility- vehicles with APCs for a war that will likely be over either way in a few years.


30 posted on 12/22/2005 12:35:21 PM PST by Joseph_CutlerUSA (New blogspot at "http://yankeestation.blogspot.com". Mostly military and political affairs.)
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To: Servant of the 9

Course, you're not an idiotic self-righteous reporters who thinks everything in the military can be a tank - so you know that.


31 posted on 12/22/2005 12:37:39 PM PST by Joseph_CutlerUSA (New blogspot at "http://yankeestation.blogspot.com". Mostly military and political affairs.)
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To: FreedomCalls

That's a BTR-60... They go "boom" when hit by IEDs. So does the BTR 70 and 80. There is also VERY little room inside for troops, body armor, and gear.

Though a BTR-80 does ride nice, but it is cramped.


32 posted on 12/22/2005 1:38:14 PM PST by M1Tanker (Proven Daily: Modern "progressive" liberalism is just National Socialism without the "twisted cross")
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To: M1Tanker
That's a BTR-60... They go "boom" when hit by IEDs.

Less so than Hummers?

33 posted on 12/22/2005 6:07:47 PM PST by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: Scottyboy568
- there is no such thing as a U.S. Marine paratrooper.

Incorrect. The Marine Corps had a few paratroop battalions in WWII. You may have heard of Ira Hayes. He was a paratrooper and there are still some Marines from those units living today. Many contemporary Marines, including freeper Gunny Bob, attend(ed) jump school at Fort Benning, where the Marine Corps has a detachment. Marines conduct HALO, HAHO and static line jumps. Think there's never been a Marine who has served on exchange duty with the 82nd or 101st Airborne? Don't both of those units conduct mostly, if not exclusively, low altitude static line jumps?

You may be trying to split hairs over semantics and the MOS nomenclature may be different but jump qual'd Marines can indeed informally be called paratroopers.


Quantico-based Recon Marines jump from a UH-1Y during testing recently. The aircraft, slated to replace the aging UH-1N, was undergoing tests to evaluate it’s to insert Marines into special warfare situations where landing the helicopter is not possible. Static line hung jumper evaluation, SPIE rig, rappelling, fast rope, and free-fall parachute operations from heights including 10,000 feet comprised the evaluations.
Photo by Curt Lengfield.


U.S. Marines from the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) from Camp LeJeune become the first to deploy from an MV-22 Osprey as they free-fall from 10,000 feet. U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Vernon Pugh. U.S. Navy photo.
[000117-M-0000P-001] Jan. 17, 2000.


A series of night vision images shows the exit of a group of pathfinder Marines from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, jumping from a KC-130 Hercules cargo plane into the night sky in western Iraq July 23. The group of Marines performed the historic first high altitude high opening parachute drop into a combat zone for the Marine Corps. (Photo illustration by Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte)


Sgt. A. J. Hull, assistant team leader, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, exits the back of the C-130 Hercules March 23 during high-altitude parachute training at Naval Air Facility El Centro. A good exit has the Marine arching his back and facing the aircraft, not spinning around or on his side. This allows proper orientation for nighttime maneuvers where the only light visible is from the aircraft. This was the second of three jumps that day. This particular jump is called a High Altitude, Low Opening (HALO). Jumpers exit the aircraft at an altitude of 13,000 feet.
Photo by: Cpl. Robert M. Storm


Master Sgt. Patrick M. Whelan, jumpmaster with 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, stands by while waiting to jump. The jump master inspects Marines before jumping and has overall control over the entire jump session.
Photo by: Cpl. Robert M. Storm


Five thousand feet above Kaneohe bay in a CH-53D helicopter, Marines from 4th Force Reconnaissance Company, performed parachute operations, Oct. 18. The reconnaissance Marines are trained to make silent, undetectable insertions for future missions.
Photo by: Lance Cpl. J. Ethan Hoaldridge


MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Two Marines exit an Air Force C-17 aircraft as their parachutes jettison here April 27. More than 30 Marines, airmen and foreign service members completed a joint air assault exercise to enhance proficiency in air delivery operations.
Photo by: Pfc. Wayne C. Edmiston

SILK CHUTES AND HARD FIGHTING: US. Marine Corps Parachute Units in World War II


Marines hit the dirt in a drop zone at New River, North Carolina, in November 1942. Parachutists used a tumbling technique to absorb some of the impact of the landing.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 127-GC-495-5049


Marines of the fledgling 1st Parachute Battalion land near Fredericksburg, Virginia, following a tactical jump in July 1941. Their unexpected arrival in the midst of an Army maneuver demonstrated the disruption that parachutists could cause to unwary opposing units.
Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 127-GC-495-504479

34 posted on 12/22/2005 6:09:36 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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To: A.A. Cunningham

You are correct, We had a Co. of marines train with us back in the Viet era and they went through the same Jump class as we did.


35 posted on 12/22/2005 6:32:25 PM PST by ABN 505
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To: FreedomCalls
That's a BTR-60, Russian made, the one in the picture's in the Finnish Army -- and it's very vulnerable to IEDs and large mines, although the crew normally survive am AT mine fired by the wheels (not a tilt-rod fired mine under the centre, though).

The initial anti-mine vehicles, things like the Pookie, were developed in Rhodesia... that expertise went to SA when the guerillas in SWA (now Namibia) began aping RHodesian guerilla tactics. They have a distinctive deep-v hull.

There is a famous picture series of a Russian BTR-80 (successor to the thing in the picture) that hit a large IED in Chechnya. By that time, the Russians had gotten wise to IEDs and the RPG threat and were riding on, not in, the vehicle, but they still did not survive.

The US Stryker or USMC LAV-III is similar conceptually to these vehicles, although it has more advanced technical subsystems. These vehicles have been killed by IEDs frequently (although they do an okay job of protecting the crews). I have photos of an M1A1 Abrams that was killed by an IED. The 70-ton tank was thrown about ten metres and the turret about 20.

This article is one of the most reasoned and rational things I have read on the issue of vehicle armour.

In Afghanistan, it's worth noting that we had real trouble with the HMMWV being too wide for roads and the uparmoured version being too heavy for bridges. Vehicles are not built in a vaccum -- the battlefield has a vote, too.

d.o.l.

Criminal Number 18F

36 posted on 12/22/2005 6:48:43 PM PST by Criminal Number 18F
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Comment #37 Removed by Moderator

To: Scottyboy568
there is no such thing as a U.S. Marine paratrooper.

Incorrect. As I've already demonstrated to you the Marine Corps had paratrooper battalions in WWII. You need to be explicit instead of generalizing when you make comments.

38 posted on 12/22/2005 10:07:16 PM PST by A.A. Cunningham
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Comment #39 Removed by Moderator

To: FreedomCalls

Actually, the in video I saw from Chechnya, the BTRs went up much more than the HMMWVs. If the US used the Russian vehicles, there would be even more losses.

But the HMMWV wsa never meant for this type of service... nothing in anyone's inventory was.


40 posted on 12/23/2005 2:49:33 PM PST by M1Tanker (Proven Daily: Modern "progressive" liberalism is just National Socialism without the "twisted cross")
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To: M1Tanker
Actually, the in video I saw from Chechnya, the BTRs went up much more than the HMMWVs.

Isnt't that highly dependent on the type and amount of explosive used in the IED? You really can't draw a conclusion like that based on that one series of photos!

Here's a photo of an M1A1 Abrams tank destroyed by an IED in Iraq. Are you going to claim that Humvees are less vunerable than those?

There are plenty of examples of fully destroyed Humvees, many much more so than in the video of the Chechen BTR you saw.

But it doesn't really matter anyway. My point is that if you want an armored vehicle, you design one or purchase one (such as a BTR). It's what a Humvee is not. Putting armor on a humvee destroys the speed and mobility that is what is was designed for.

41 posted on 12/23/2005 3:46:56 PM PST by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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