Senators Want Investigation Into Combat Gear Delays

Senators Want Investigation Into Combat Gear Delays
February 29th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Senators Want Investigation Into Combat Gear Delays

Senators Want Investigation Into Combat Gear Delays
Mideast Stars and Stripes
February 29, 2008 By Leo Shane III, Stars and Stripes
WASHINGTON — Four senators want a Defense Department investigation into why military officials aren’t getting much needed equipment to combat troops more quickly, specifically citing delays in getting Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles to Iraq.
But the Commandant of the Marine Corps on Thursday rebutted accusations that service officials botched requests for the heavily armored trucks.
“To say we knew at the time that this vehicle, which had far from proven itself, was needed to combat a threat that had not presented itself, that’s 20/20 hindsight,” Gen. James Conway told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
At issue are requests for better armored vehicles made by Marine commanders in February 2005. A recent report by a Corps civilian employee said that battlefield need was lost in the service’s “Byzantine” procurement system, likely costing troops’ lives.
But Conway disputed that requests for MRAPs were ignored, saying that the larger vehicles simply were not appropriate at the time.
He said in 2005 that most of the roadside bomb attacks were from the side and not from underneath, where the MRAP’s V-shaped hull protects passengers better than the flat-bottomed Humvee.
Also, he said, the new MRAPs had too many maintenance and repair questions for rapid deployment.
A little more than a year later, when the types of bombs and reliability of the vehicle changed, Corps officials moved to get hundreds of them into Iraq. In all, the Corps has ordered about 2,300 for use in Iraq.
In the letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Sens. Kit Bond, R-Mo.; Joseph Biden, D-Del.; Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.; and Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., expressed concerns the Corps and other services haven’t responded quickly enough to requests for vehicle armor to withstand attacks from explosively formed penetrators, mirroring the problem with the MRAPs.
“Our front line forces must be supported by a modern system that quickly meets their needs, not a slow and lumbering bureaucracy better suited to the last century,” they wrote. “As important, our military men and women and their families deserve to know that we are giving them the best possible equipment when they need it.”
At the hearing, Kennedy told Conway he believes Corps officials are ignoring past delays and not improving systems to rapidly field MRAPs and other critical equipment in the future.
Conway acknowledged that the Corps bureaucratic processes can work better, noting that service officials requested a review of their systems by the Defense Department Inspector General after the most recent MRAP report.
But he told the Senate panel that he is confident that officials have worked as quickly as possible to get critical gear into Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We think the conclusion will be that well-intended men made prudent decisions at the time,” he said.

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