Army Eyeing Replacement Of All Humvees In Iraq With MRAP Vehicles

May 3rd, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Army Eyeing Replacement Of All Humvees In Iraq With MRAP Vehicles

Inside The Pentagon
May 3, 2007
Pg. 1
The Army is considering a request from commanders in Iraq to replace every humvee there with a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, a move that -- if approved -- could more than triple the size of the MRAP program, which today carries an $8.4 billion price tag.
This proposal comes as the new-start MRAP effort -- which aims to rapidly build and field a large armored vehicle fleet -- elbowed its way onto the agenda of the most senior Pentagon officials this week, including the defense secretary and Defense Department’s high-level Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
Army brass this spring advanced a requirement for 2,500 MRAP vehicles, which have V-shaped hulls designed to protect occupants from roadside bombs, as part of a Marine Corps-led effort to build a fleet of 7,774 MRAPs and field them to U.S. forces in Iraq over the next 18 months.
Commanders in Iraq, however, now believe Army personnel -- which suffer daily attacks from improvised explosive devices -- require a significantly larger MRAP fleet.
“We’ve got a requirement from the field that’s a larger number than [2,500] and we’re going to take a long, hard look at that,” Pete Geren, the acting Army secretary, told the Senate Armed Services airland subcommittee on April 25. “The number that came from the field was 17,000 -- total replacement of the humvee fleet.”
Officials on the Army staff declined requests to discuss details of the services’ MRAP requirement, which could produce a large unfunded wedge in the service’s modernization portfolio. Estimated per-unit MRAP costs -- including the vehicle, communication gear, electronic warfare capabilities, and two years of contractor support -- range from $1 million to $1.3 million, depending on which of three different-sized MRAP variants is procured, sources familiar with program details said.
Still, Geren suggested at the hearing that Army leaders are open to raising the MRAP requirement, noting he “was not confident” with the 2,500-vehicle goal. “Perhaps it should be more,” he said.
In effect, the Army is considering a policy change similar to the Marine Corps’ decision earlier this year to provide MRAP-level protection for all Marines in al Anbar province.
“Under this policy, limited use of up-armored [humvees] will be authorized in specific tactical situations where the operational characteristics of [humvee] are required,” Gen. James Conway, Marine Corps commandant, wrote in a March 1 memo on the status of the MRAP program to Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This Marine Corps policy change, validated by the service’s brass on Feb. 6, propelled its requirement for MRAP vehicles from 1,022 to 3,700.
The Army’s assessment of its total MRAP need comes as the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, the Pentagon’s high-level panel that must approve all new-start weapons programs, was scheduled on May 2 to consider -- and possibly endorse -- the requirement for 7,774 MRAP vehicles.
Even this figure represents recent growth spurred Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command requirements.
On May 1, in another sign of the high profile MRAP enjoys in the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates received a program overview briefing, according to Marine Corps spokesman Bill Johnson-Miles.
Meanwhile, support for the MRAP program continues to grow on Capitol Hill. On May 2, the House Armed Services air and land subcommittee announced it has added $4.1 billion to buy MRAPs in fiscal year 2008, an extraordinary sum -- even in the context of U.S. defense spending -- for an effort that is not a program of record and was not a priority only a year ago.
The House panel’s action follows last week’s commitment by Congress to provide $3 billion for MRAP purchases over the next six months. President Bush, however, vetoed the spending bill that contained the MRAP funds on May 1 because of provisions regarding U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq.
So far, the MRAP program in fiscal year 2007 has spent all but $150 million of the $1.4 billion available to the Marine Corps through congressional appropriations and internal reprogramming actions, according to a Marine Corps spokeswoman.
Nearly $900 million has been used to place orders for 1,639 vehicles on contract, a handful of which are complete.
The current impasse over the fiscal year 2007 emergency supplemental spending package is forcing the Marine Corps to search internally for additional resources for MRAP.
“We are investigating additional reprogramming and realignment funding options to make more funding available to the program before appropriation and receipt of the FY-07 supplemental funding,” said Dedra Jone, spokeswoman for the MRAP program. “Other than orders already placed and planned with funds on hand, we cannot place additional orders until more funding is available.”
Sources said the service is preparing a new reprogramming request worth nearly $500 million to ensure that it has funds on hand to award production contracts over the next four weeks. This would be a second reprogramming action designed to shift funds to the MRAP program this spring. In March, Pentagon Comptroller Tina Jonas approved a $498 million reprogramming for MRAP.
The push to make MRAP funds available comes as the Marine Corps and Army in late May are scheduled to complete testing of prototypes from eight tactical vehicle manufacturers. A key element of the rapid acquisition strategy is to begin awarding contracts as soon as testing is complete.
-- Jason Sherman

Similar Topics
Scarcity Of Safe Vehicles Deemed Worse
If Iraq Worsens, Allies See 'Nightmare' Case
Army, Marine Corps To Ask For More Troops
Iraq Strategy Takes Page From Vietnam Playbook
Shaking hands with Sadam Hussein