View Full Version : The Army We Have

12-17-04, 09:23 AM
In Nam, we filled sandbags, and placed them on the floorboard or we sat on them...


The Army We Have

December 17, 2004; Page A14

A few weeks ago Rep. Duncan Hunter handed me a reason that has largely escaped media attention as to why our troops don't have all the armor they need. It was a piece of ballistic glass the size of a small dinner plate and as transparent as a normal windshield. But as it was four sheets of glass glued together, it was very thick and extremely heavy. In Iraq, this glass is saving lives.

The problem, the House Armed Services Committee chairman explained, is that a ballistic windshield is too heavy for some military vehicles. The window frames simply cannot support it. That means some soldiers are driving vehicles with regular windshields as the bureaucracy figures out what to do.

While the troops wait, he complained, the military could install two-inch-thick ballistic glass, which would likely stop 80% of the shrapnel that penetrates ordinary windshields. But the military is loath to adopt an interim, if imperfect, remedy. It prefers to wait for the "100% solution," Mr. Hunter said. In other words, in military procurement, the perfect has become the enemy of the good.

Mr. Hunter has also pushed the military to give soldiers steel plates they can cut into armored doors. He even made a short video on how soldiers in the field can cut the armored doors themselves (you can view it at www.garybecks.com/humvee/index.html). Somehow the military isn't getting this done either.

These are not the only problems. Mr. Hunter's office figured out a way to help protect convoys by converting a regular truck into an escort vehicle by bolting on a few plates of high-grade steel, ballistic glass and four machine guns. The Army initially said these gun trucks weren't needed. But now a handful of them are in Iraq, with more to be delivered by Christmas.

There have been a few successes, however. Before redeploying to Iraq last March, the Marines put some armor on all the vehicles they shipped over. Through the Rapid Fielding Initiative, the Pentagon distributed a new type of body armor in Iraq. And Rapid Acquisition Authority was signed into law in October, which empowers the defense secretary to go outside the procurement system to meet urgent battlefield needs. But the power has yet to be invoked.

Donald Rumsfeld stirred up a hornet's nest last week saying, "You go to war with the army you have." But he was right. We cannot afford to make George McClellan's mistake in the Civil War, endlessly preparing but not doggedly going after the enemy. Our soldiers deserve the best equipment money can buy. And that includes the best equipment they can use now, instead of waiting around for something better. Sometimes what's good enough today is better than what would be perfect sometime down the road.

Mr. Miniter is assistant editor of OpinionJournal.com. This is adapted from his weekly online column, "The Western Front."

12-17-04, 09:34 AM
Gosh darn it! I've said it before, the American economy and ability to produce is our not-so secret weapon.

If it costs $15k per man for 98% effective body armor, freaking pay it!

It would pay for itself just in the political costs. Our engineers have developed flexible stuff that only hardens when kinetic energy, (like 7.62 bullets and shrapnel), strikes its surface. And it works!

12-17-04, 12:45 PM
Expediant Armour !!

I remember reading some of the tricks GI's came up with in WWII for protection.

One was 2 layers of plate steel, boiler plate when available, mounted about an inch or so apart from each other, then SAND was packed into the gap between the plates.

I can only wonder if any of this has been tried.