Howard Covitz sends a link to this article:
WASHINGTON – The Marine Corps has asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to examine allegations that a nearly two-year delay in the fielding of blast-resistant vehicles led to hundreds of combat casualties in Iraq.
The system for rapidly shipping needed gear to troops on the front lines has been examined by auditors before and continues to improve, Col. David Lapan, a Marine Corps spokesman, said Monday night. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, however, “the Marine Corps has taken the additional step” of requesting the IG investigation, Lapan said in an e-mailed statement.
In a Jan. 22 internal report, Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine Corps official, accused the service of “gross mismanagement” that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks.
Gayl’s study, which reflected his own views, said cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down a February 2005 “urgent” request from battlefield commanders for the so-called MRAPs.
Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which weigh up to 40 tons and can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded, charged Gayl, who prepared the study for the Marine Corps’ plans, policies and operations department.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, the nation’s oldest veterans organization, said if Gayl’s allegations are true, charges should be brought against the military and civilian officials who failed to deliver the MRAPs.
If, however, Gayl’s findings are incorrect, he should be held accountable for his actions, said VFW National Commander George Lisicki in a Feb. 19 letter to members of Congress.
“There is no doubt MRAPs have saved many lives in horrendous (improvised explosive device) explosions, but to accuse the Marine Corps of knowingly and intentionally jeopardizing the safety of fellow Marines on the battlefield is a very serious charge,” Lisicki said.
Things like this don’t happen because someone tried to do the wrong thing. They happen because resource are scarce, and people make the best decision they can with the information available. And when the cheerleading overwhelms what information is actually available, bad decisions are made. The reason MRAPs weren’t a priority is that given the costs, they weren’t considered a worthwhile expenditure because the Iraq War was just about over (as it had been for the previous two years). But now the corner had been turned, the insurgents were in their last throes, and of course, there was this:
It was in that world that the decision was made not to purchase MRAPs. And who knows how many other equally disastrous decisions were made because the administration and its cheerleaders made wishful thinking a substitute for cold, hard facts. Purchasing MRAPs under that environment was equivalent to being one of the unpatriotic folks who questioned the daydreams, one of those who hated the troops and emboldened the enemy. Very few people in the Pentagon would have been crazy enough to go that route in the Bush/Cheney Pentagon of 2005.
And as a result, a terrible price was paid. It wasn’t paid by those who imposed their will on the facts, nor by the cheerleaders, nor even (for the most part) by those who had internal questions but went along. It was paid by the troops.