View Full Version : Media vs. the Military 2: The Armor Flap

12-14-04, 06:54 AM
Media vs. the Military 2: The Armor Flap

December 14, 2004

by Joe Mariani

Once again, members of the so-called "mainstream" media leave no stone unturned in their quest to embarrass the Bush administration and undermine support for the war America is already committed to win. This time their target is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their issue is armored HMMWVs (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles, or "hummvees"). Their tool is the very military that will be hurt the worst if they're successful.

While Rumsfeld was in Kuwait last week, he visited a group of National Guard soldiers that were about to be deployed to Iraq. He took questions from them, but not from the press. The briefing and questions were not in the least adversarial until one soldier demanded to know why "we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal" to armor the HMMWVs. Naturally, the media went wild with glee over this "evidence" that the US military is ill-equipped to fight a war.

The first problem is that the media planted the question and arranged for it to be asked. Edward Lee Pitts, a Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter embedded with the 278th Regimental Combat Team, wrote in an email: "I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions, so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts. ... Beforehand we worked on questions to ask Rumsfeld about the appalling lack of armor their vehicles going into combat have."

Now, some might say that the question was entirely legitimate, asked by a soldier with very real concerns over the vehicle he would be asked to drive into Baghdad. Fortunately (for our military; unfortunately for our media), HMMWVs that haven't yet been up-armored are not driven, but carted on flatbed trucks to a safe area. Any concerns the soldiers might have had came not from their own experience -- since they hadn't been in Iraq yet -- but from the media misrepresentation. The fearmongering media created the worries they then reported as "legitimate concerns." Reporters like Pitts (and there are far too many like him) have long ago forgotten anything they knew about journalistic integrity. Instead of reporting facts fairly and accurately, they create the news to further their agenda, engaging in a "gotcha" game designed to attack those with whom they disagree.

The fact is that HMMWVs are normally unarmored except for military police use. They're simply not designed to carry heavy armor -- the suspension and transmission aren't built to handle the extra weight. In late 2003, the terrorists in Iraq began using more IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on roadways to attack our troops, so the military realised they had to ramp up production of armored HMMWVs, and come up with a lightweight armor that could be added to the 30,000 wheeled vehicles (including HMMWVs) already in Iraq and Afghanistan. At this point, there are only about 8,000 vehicles without some armor on them, and a large number of those are "tool trucks, communication vans or vehicles that don't leave the base camp," according to Lieutenant General Steven Whitcomb, the CFLCC commander in Kuwait. Any reports of soldiers digging through trash heaps to find scrap metal were likely based on soldiers recycling steel plates from vehicles that had been hit and couldn't be repaired, Whitcomb said. This makes sense, as scrap metal wouldn't do much to armor a vehicle (old A-Team reruns notwithstanding), and would unbalance the load on its suspension.

HMMWVs can be given three levels of armor. Level one includes complete armor and bulletproof glass. Those have to be built from the ground up, and production has increased in just a year from 30 a month to 400 a month. Approximately 6,000 vehicles have level one protection. Level two protection is provided with an add-on kit, which covers the sides of the vehicle but not the top and bottom. Approximately 10,000 vehicles have level two armor. Level three armor is used more for trucks than HMMWVs; it consists of steel plates bolted onto the vehicles' sides. About 4,500 vehicles currently have level three protection.

Because of this manufactured armor flap, the enemy knows exactly how many and what types of vehicles are armored, and how to tell one from another. Good job, members of the mainstream media. Doesn't our military have enough to do without your invented scandals and information leaks? As for the military, I suggest that when speaking to the press, you restrict any conversation to the following topics: names of cities fought in, amount of ground taken, and number of enemies killed. Anything you say can and will be used against you by the enemy.

Joe Mariani

Joe Mariani is a computer consultant born and raised in New Jersey. He lives in Pennsylvania, where the gun laws are less restrictive and taxes are lower. Joe always thought of himself as politically neutral until he saw how far left the left had really gone after 9/11. His essays and links to articles are available at http://guardian.blogdrive.com/.


12-14-04, 01:38 PM
National Guard. What else do you need to know?
Marines need armor, they steal it if it isn't issued. You gotta take care of yourself.
Improvise. Adapt.

12-15-04, 01:25 AM
Dayside with Linda Vester, had a Marine on the other day that shot some footage in Fallujah. Good Video. The thing that stood out most to me was when the Marine was asked if they had armor on their vehicles. His reply was (not quoted) ' Marines like to joke that we are the Step children of the military, but when we went into Fallujah we had everything we needed. All vehicles were armored, had all the equipment and all the ammo we needed and more, we were well supplied.'

The odds are that there are some Marines that might have a b*tch, but I have yet to hear it. Seems they have more pride than to b*tch to the media who is just waiting for a "story". Other services should take note.