From The WTF Department
Military procurers make a responsible decision:
The Marines plan to buy fewer bomb-resistant vehicles than planned despite pressure from lawmakers who are determined to spend billions of dollars on the vehicles.
The Marine Corps' requirement for mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles would drop from the planned 3,700 to about 2,300, The Associated Press has learned. The Marines would not comment on the decision, but defense officials confirmed the cut. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not been announced.
About a month ago, Marine Commandant Gen. T. James Conway signaled the possibility of a new examination of the commitment to the vehicles, saying he was concerned his force was getting too heavy. "I'm a little bit concerned about us keeping our expeditionary flavor," he said.
At the same time, an independent study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington questioned whether the Pentagon was buying too many of the pricey vehicles, which can cost as much as $1 million each. The study found that in some cases, the heavily armored vehicles, with their bomb-deflecting V-shaped hulls, might not be the answer that many believe they are.
Military officials and other experts have said that while the vehicles, known as MRAPs, are lifesavers in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are not as useful or mobile in some terrain.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, buoyed by the vehicle's solid record -- to date no troops have died in one -- have consistently said the military must buy more and must buy them faster.
Now, I get why lawmakers would do this even though it is completely nuts. Pushing this stuff shows that politicians "support the troops" which is second only to worshiping Jesus as a sanctified requirement of office. It's true that when troops were getting blown up every day by IEDs there was some need to get more of those things built quickly --- or, preferably, redeploy the troops. But not the surge is allegedly working --- no more car bombs. And the Marines don't see any use for the vehicles in other conflicts down the road, so they are canceling their order. Changing circumstances, changing needs, cancel some expensive equipment. Sounds reasonable. It might even be possible that the congress would be willing to hide behind the Marine Commandant's uniform and allow the taxpayers to be spared this useless burden.
But it's not looking good. The Marines may be canceling a bunch of MRAPs, but that isn't going to stop the administration from insisting that the congress appropriate even more money for them:
Q: Dana, the President is going to be meeting this afternoon with top brass, talking about, among other things, Iraq and Afghanistan, and I know that he's going to be -- you have just put out this 2007 funding -- war funding by the numbers, really, taking the gloves off, coming down hard on Congress. Where do things stand at the Pentagon when it comes to them actually running out of money for the wars in Iraq and --
MS. PERINO: Well, I think the slide that you're to is this one --talking about is this one. I don't think it's taking the gloves off by just pointing out the facts. They have had almost 300 days in order to debate in Congress the President's request for the money for the troops. There are about 100,000 civilians who would be at risk of losing their jobs if this money is not appropriated.
The President will make a statement afterwards. But I hardly see that as taking the gloves off, because they've had the request, they've seen how wonderfully our troops are performing in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this money is for the day-to-day operations that is needed to fight the war on terror. And this includes bullets, body armor, the MRAP vehicles that will help protect them.
I heard Bush blathering incoherently today about not being able to "steer" the defense department "like a skiff," which I think means he can't move billions from one account to the other. Maybe the congress could help him hold the oars and paddle away from spending these useless billions. Or, if it's the case that the Army still needs those vehicles, maybe they could pass a law that would allow him to transfer the money that's already been appropriated to them.
Unfortunately, the Democrats know that if they propose it, even though the Marines have already said they are canceling part of the order, the Republicans will accuse them of heresy, so this will likely not happen. They're just going to appropriate more piles of money for hugely expensive equipment that the services won't need.
I guess we'll never know how many billions this government has simply thrown away so the Republicans can keep up their sad little pretense of warrior prowess (and both parties can deliver to their military contractor contributors.) It would be a lot cheaper to put fistsfull of Viagra in their coffee and pay them off directly.