Michael Hirsh and John Barry / Newsweek – 2007-06-21 22:30:50
(June 25, 2007 issue) — For US troops in Iraq, May was the worst month since 2004, with 126 killed. The summer months may be worse, given a new Pentagon assessment concluding the surge is not reducing violence. Now a former Marine officer says the corps has failed to supply its Marines on the front lines with the best protection against the improvised explosive devices that cause most of the carnage. Since the start of 2005, the number of IEDs placed by insurgents has more than doubled.
Retired Maj. Franz Gayl, a former adviser to the commander of the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, told NEWSWEEK the Marine Corps shunted aside an “urgent” request back in February 2005 for 1,169 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to replace the outclassed Humvees on Iraq’s roads. The MRAP vehicles are on raised wheels and have a V-shaped chassis that diffuses the force of a blast underneath.
“It was criminal negligence,” says Gayl. “The numbers of preventable deaths from the MRAP delay are in the hundreds,” although he admits such figures are speculative.
Spokesmen for the Marines reject Gayl’s allegation that the corps ignored the initial request. They say the corps convened a special “executive” session of the Marine Requirements Oversight Council to address the MRAP issue but opted instead to order an up-armored version of the Humvee, the M1114. The reason: there was no large-scale production line for MRAPs at the time.
The general who signed the February 2005 request—which was called an “urgent universal needs statement”— Maj. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, told reporters at a May briefing that he thinks the Marine Corps made the right decision back then. Hejlik—then deputy commander of the 1 MEF—now says that although his 2005 request specifically asks for the V-shaped MRAP, “the M1114, at the time, met the needs of the war fighters in theater.”
Gayl says the corps could have ramped up MRAP production had it tried—and says that’s exactly what it’s doing now. Marine Commandant James Conway recently called sending MRAPs into theater—some 7,700 are on rush order—his “highest moral imperative.” MRAPS “could reduce the casualties in vehicles due to IED attack by as much as 80 percent,” Conway told outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace in a letter in March.
Sen. Joseph Biden, a 2008 presidential candidate, has taken up Gayl’s cause, calling for an investigation of “how this fell through.” The 2005 request, Biden says, “got lost somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon. We haven’t gotten an explanation back yet of how that happened.”
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Expanded-capacity HMMWVs (ECV) are designed to carry heavier payloads without sacrificing the vehicle’s mobility, dependability and performance.
The M1114, with improved ballistic protection levels, is used for scout, military police and explosive ordinance disposal missions. The M1114 provides protection against small arms artillery airbursts and anti-tank mine blasts.
The US Air Force uses a modified version of this vehicle, the M1116, specifically designed to meet the requirements of the Air force. The M1116 features an expanded cargo area, armored housing for the turret gunner and improved interior heating and air conditioning system. The M1114 and M1116 receive armor at Armor Holdings in Fairfield, Ohio.
In 2005, AM General began production of the M1151, M1152 and m1165 variants. The vehicles incorporated the highest levels of armor protection including frag kits, all field installable/removable.
M1151s are armament carriers and M1152s are two-man vehicles that can be used as troop carriers/shelter carriers etc. The M1165 is a command and control vehicle with a four person seating capacity.
The armor is available in two kits, an ‘A’ kit and a ‘B’ kit, which, when combined, provide gapless mine and ballistic protection. The armor can be removed later to provide flexibility for missions that do not require additional protection. Available frag kits provide additional protection when required. The vehicles are equipped with an air conditioning system to provide greater crew comfort.
Curb Weight: 9800 lbs. (4447 kg.)
Payload: 2300 lbs. (1043 kg.)
Gross Vehicle Weight: 12100 lbs. (5489 kg.)
Gross Axle Weight (Front): 5300 lbs. (2404 kg.)
Gross Axle Weight (Rear): 7000 lbs. (3175 kg.)
Length: 196.5 in. (5.00 m.)
Height: 76 in. (1.93 m.)
Min. Reduced Height: 72 in. (1.83 m.)
Reduced Shipping Cube: 782 ft.^3 (27.1 m.^3)
Approach Angle: 45°
Departure Angle: 35°
Acceleration (0-30mph): 9.4 sec. 9.4 sec.
Acceleration (0-50mph): 26.1 sec. 26.1 sec.
Crusing Range: 275 mi. (443 km.)
CGX: 67.65 in. (1.72 m.)
CGY: .06 in. (.015 m.)
CGZ: 32.9 in. (.84 m.)
Spring Rate (Front): 2000 lb./in. (350 N/mm)
Spring Rate (Rear): 3000 lb./in. (575 N/mm)
Troop Seating Capacity: 1+3
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