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Thread: All matters MRAP JLTV (merged thread)

  1. #201
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    Thumbs up

    It's interesting how similar problems have similar solutions in the resemblance between MRAP and some of the vehicles developed by South Africa and Rhodesia in their counter-insurgencies in the 70s and 80s...

    If current predictions run true and this form of warfare is going to be the new 'regular' warfare for the next 2-3 decades, then I think you are correct. The risk may lie in going too far down the COIN vehicle path at the expense of the those optimised for traditional force-on-force conflict - much we we did in the 80s and 90s across NATO and ABCA...

    The other risk with vehicles such as MRAP is that they will continue to be perceived in some quarters and 'anti-IED' vehicles which they are not...any vehicle designed to be anti-IED is only a reaction and not the response that CIED really needs...

  2. #202
    Council Member TAH's Avatar
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    Default I said this before somewhere...

    Quote Originally Posted by Geronimo53 View Post
    Future of the Army MRAP Force

    I propose that the future Army MRAP allocations be limited to:
    1. CENTCOM Theater then into Army Preposition Stock (APS) locations
    2. Specified active army installations (shared training asset)
    3. National Guard/Reserve Mobilization Training sites
    4. Combat Training Centers [/B]


    There is no need to distribute MRAPs down to every Army BCT or even form specialized MRAP units within those BCTs.
    I would suggest expanding your unit profile beyond just BCTs. Route Clearance Engineer Companies and Combat Support MP Companies who patrol MSRs are two obvious canidates for MRAPs as organic systems as opposed to for deployment only.

    Each of the National Guard Maneuver Enhancement Brigades will inlcude a combat arms bn (Infantry, CAB or Cav/Recon) as a rear area combat force. I think that should be another canidate.

    There is also a need/requirement to train the system mantainers/mechanics.

  3. #203
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Scary conversation...

    An Infantryman in Afghanistan just recently wrote me in an e-mail that "...the MRAP is an invention of the devil..." He contends it is destroying tactical skills and is leading to more not fewer IED hits.

    I strongly concurred. If I understand those who favor it, you're saying that an overlarge, unwieldy vehicle that is an armored cocoon which discourages patrolling and fosters inaction by soldiers is desirable.

    Further, you're doing that in spite of the fact that one cannot add enough armor to protect against all fire or explosive effects. Favoring doing the expected thing in a monster vehicle that actually impedes tactical flexibility, fosters a desire to not leave that protective womb, that is excessively expensive in all aspects for benefit derived and which has no place in mid or higher intensity warfare and that is inimical to proper conduct of low intensity warfare is fascinating. Still scary...

    One achieves tactical dominance by simply being competent, doing the unexpected and being agile, not by being protected.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    An Infantryman in Afghanistan just recently wrote me in an e-mail that "...the MRAP is an invention of the devil..." He contends it is destroying tactical skills and is leading to more not fewer IED hits.

    I strongly concurred. If I understand those who favor it, you're saying that an overlarge, unwieldy vehicle that is an armored cocoon which discourages patrolling and fosters inaction by soldiers is desirable.

    Further, you're doing that in spite of the fact that one cannot add enough armor to protect against all fire or explosive effects. Favoring doing the expected thing in a monster vehicle that actually impedes tactical flexibility, fosters a desire to not leave that protective womb, that is excessively expensive in all aspects for benefit derived and which has no place in mid or higher intensity warfare and that is inimical to proper conduct of low intensity warfare is fascinating. Still scary...

    One achieves tactical dominance by simply being competent, doing the unexpected and being agile, not by being protected.
    Agreed

    MRAPS were made to make me appreciate Blackhawks.

    Tom

  5. #205
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    100% agree with Ken and his friend.
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  6. #206
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
    100% agree with Ken and his friend.
    Me to, and I think Tom Odom nailed it pretty well when he said,
    MRAPS were made to make me appreciate Blackhawks.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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  7. #207
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    Default Amen

    Let me add my voice to the chorus.

    MRAPs do have some utility as specialized niche vehicles. As troop carriers, they represent the bankruptcy of our tactical thinking and the spinelessness of our senior leaders.

    Hopefully most of them will end up as targets on our training ranges.

  8. #208
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The MRAP story sounds a lot like the hard body armour plate story on steroids, doesn't it?

  9. #209
    Registered User Geronimo53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    Let me add my voice to the chorus.

    MRAPs do have some utility as specialized niche vehicles. As troop carriers, they represent the bankruptcy of our tactical thinking and the spinelessness of our senior leaders.

    Hopefully most of them will end up as targets on our training ranges.
    So then how should we transport soldiers to their AO without them getting blown up on the way there? Blackhawks are great for that...when available.


    I'm sure its true that some units use them to conduct presence patrols instead of walking, but that falls on unit TTPs and the small unit leaders on the ground. How are MRAPs representative of our spineless senior leaders? What would you have those senior leaders do instead? Should they not utilize the MRAP technology and explain to the American public why soldiers are dying from IEDs?

    Obviously MRAPs aren't indestructible. They are being destroyed by IEDs with more ferequency in Afghanistan now. But what's the alternative?

  10. #210
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    An Infantryman in Afghanistan just recently wrote me in an e-mail that "...the MRAP is an invention of the devil..." He contends it is destroying tactical skills and is leading to more not fewer IED hits.

    I strongly concurred. If I understand those who favor it, you're saying that an overlarge, unwieldy vehicle that is an armored cocoon which discourages patrolling and fosters inaction by soldiers is desirable.

    Further, you're doing that in spite of the fact that one cannot add enough armor to protect against all fire or explosive effects. Favoring doing the expected thing in a monster vehicle that actually impedes tactical flexibility, fosters a desire to not leave that protective womb, that is excessively expensive in all aspects for benefit derived and which has no place in mid or higher intensity warfare and that is inimical to proper conduct of low intensity warfare is fascinating. Still scary...

    One achieves tactical dominance by simply being competent, doing the unexpected and being agile, not by being protected.
    You left out "killing the enemy."

  11. #211
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geronimo53 View Post
    How are MRAPs representative of our spineless senior leaders? What would you have those senior leaders do instead? Should they not utilize the MRAP technology and explain to the American public why soldiers are dying from IEDs?
    I have no problem using MRAP-class vehicles to 'transport' soldiers to their AOs (say on the first day of their tour), or for moving beans and bullets, or as specialized engineer vehicles. But the MRAP is exactly the wrong way to approach the IED threat. The right way is through intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, proper patrolling techniques, and deployments that don't require constant commuting. The MRAP is the same sort of response to a threat that has our soldiers chasing insurgents while weighed down with 100 pounds of gear and body armor. Moreover, MRAPs isolate soldiers from the population and the environment and this extends the war - meaning more casualties in the long run.

    I'm sorry, but a brutal fact of war that we sometimes forget is that preservation of our soldier's lives is not the primary objective. Our senior leaders rarely talk about that, and the MRAP is an example of taking the easy way out rather than laying out the often harsh facts of life.

  12. #212
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Not really...

    Quote Originally Posted by Geronimo53 View Post
    You left out "killing the enemy."
    One might just capture them or wound them -- or deny them an objective or goal they aimed toward. In any event tactical dominance implies whatever it takes, kill, maim, pillage, block, divert, whatever...

    Eden can answer this...

    ADDENDUM: He did and his answer is far better than mine; shorter, too...END

    ...Until he does, you might consider a point or two:
    So then how should we transport soldiers to their AO without them getting blown up on the way there? Blackhawks are great for that...when available.
    If one tries to fight in short increments measured in hours or days, that will be a problem -- if one fights as one should, often off base and in the field for weeks at a time, it is far less a problem...
    I'm sure its true that some units use them to conduct presence patrols instead of walking, but that falls on unit TTPs and the small unit leaders on the ground.
    Not totally on small unit leaders and TTP -- those things are expensive, are provided and the system expects them to be used so they will be. Whether they're used inappropriately or by people that shouldn't have them at all will not be a major issue -- it should be but it will not be.
    How are MRAPs representative of our spineless senior leaders? What would you have those senior leaders do instead? Should they not utilize the MRAP technology...
    Soldiers are dying from small arms fires, grenades and IEDs because they're in combat. That's a fact of life. In this combat, they are fighting an enemy that does not have Artillery and uses the IEDs as a substitute; if he had Arty, almost certainly a far greater number would be dying from that.

    There are ways to negate enemy artillery, there are ways to negate enemy use of IEDs but both require extra effort, some privations, tactical finesse and an appetite for taking risk. Not ever strong points of the US Army in my observation. Do some units do the right things some of the time? Absolutely. Do most units fail to do that most of the time? Regrettably, yes.

    They should not use MRAP 'technology' because its a fallacious techno-fix for a training and employment shortfall. It feeds the "I'm safe in here" syndrome and a reluctance to dismount (or to order dismounting, a different but allied problem). It becomes a crutch -- and a reason no risks are taken...

    Most units are only marginally trained and they use their MRAPs to achieve a measure of protection while doing dumb things like 'presence patrolling' in a large, unwieldy vehicle with no tactical saving grace aside from its protective ability. That and commuting to work are not beneficial. Combat is not a commuting sort of job, it's an outdoor sport.

    The fascinating thing is that MRAPS are a symptom of the risk avoiding culture that has overtaken the Army and that many people who decry that effect support the MRAP, the epitome of risk avoidance.

    I can't speak for Eden but IMO the senior leaders were not so much spineless as they were intent on protecting the institution that is the Army. We had not purchased armor protection for GP and utility vehicles because its expensive and because it has limited utility in mid to high intensity combat. As US policy was, before 2001, to avoid nation building, FID and COIN -- with good cause and good sense -- that procurement decision was quite sensible. Still is, IMO.

    However, upon entering Iraq, political opponents of the war and the ignorant media -- but I repeat myself -- hopped on the so-called vulnerability of unarmored vehicles and the rest is history, The senior leaders resisted the idea of such vehicles on a number of sensible grounds but the political and media pressure grew so they finally acceded to the purchase as the lesser of two evils. Either purchase an unneeded and poor vehicle or face a lengthened trainup time and concomitant increase in casualties. Given the Congressional pressure to spend money on equipment instead of on training, they had little choice and thus bought vehicles of marginal utility that breed bad habits...

    Spineless or pragmatic? Dunno. That's life in a democracy...
    ...and explain to the American public why soldiers are dying from IEDs?
    The bulk of the American public understand the why. The fact that other parts of the public did not or chose not to understand as fanned by the ignorance of the news media is sad but a factor of life today. Why anyone would expect no casualties in a war is mind boggling but some said they did expect just that or close to it...

    Senior leaders failure to level with the public -- indeed, with the Army -- on that score is spineless or remaining above the fray, not sure which. Either way it was and is dumb and merely leads to future acquiescence to later ignorant or ill informed demands.
    Last edited by Ken White; 11-16-2010 at 09:58 PM. Reason: Addendum

  13. #213
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eden View Post
    I have no problem using MRAP-class vehicles to 'transport' soldiers to their AOs (say on the first day of their tour), or for moving beans and bullets, or as specialized engineer vehicles. But the MRAP is exactly the wrong way to approach the IED threat. The right way is through intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, proper patrolling techniques, and deployments that don't require constant commuting. The MRAP is the same sort of response to a threat that has our soldiers chasing insurgents while weighed down with 100 pounds of gear and body armor. Moreover, MRAPs isolate soldiers from the population and the environment and this extends the war - meaning more casualties in the long run.

    I'm sorry, but a brutal fact of war that we sometimes forget is that preservation of our soldier's lives is not the primary objective. Our senior leaders rarely talk about that, and the MRAP is an example of taking the easy way out rather than laying out the often harsh facts of life.
    There are a couple of assumptions in this argument. The first is that "intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, proper patrolling techniques, and deployments" and MRAPs are mutually exclusive. While TTPs are important, why can't they be married with force protection for a greater effect?

    The second assumption is that MRAP isolates Soldiers from the environment. MRAP is an inanimate object. MRAPs don't formulate missions, orders, TTPs, or SOPs. That would be the responsibility of commanders and leaders. While I see your point that MRAPs provide an opportunity for Soldiers to avoid engaging with the local populace, staying on the FOB does the same thing. It is a leadership issue, not a force protection issue.

    Another issue I have with this comment is the comparison to 100 lbs worth of body armor. Certainly, there is a tipping point where too much force protection inhibits mission accomplishment. Excessive equipment weight would seem to be one of them. On the other hand, suggesting that no force protection is warranted simply because too much may inhibit mission accomplishment seems wrong.

    Lastly, I'd be careful about that last argument. While casualties are a part of war, the idea that we shouldn't do anything to mitigate risk is nonsense. Soldiers are combat power. If you lose combat power, you lose your ability to accomplish the mission. Therefore, you must preserve your combat power.

    This isn't an emotional appeal for the lives of young men. It is a time-tested tenet of tactics and strategy.
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  14. #214
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Room to Live?

    The article's full title is: Room to Live: Why Aren't Armoured Vehicles Surviving the Explosive Threat in Afghanistan?

    Link:http://www.defenceiq.com/article.cfm?externalID=3500

    On a quick read from my "armchair" it may supplement this thread.
    davidbfpo

  15. #215
    Council Member Johannes U's Avatar
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    Default Couple of interesting arguments there ...

    Since I am a participant in a NATO C-IED Train-the-trainer course in Croatia, some of the points made are of immediate interest to me.
    The principles and techniques we are taught here all stress on the importance of literally having "boots on the ground" when patrolling in an AOO with IEDs as a main threat.
    I have no problem with that - even more - I fully concur with that.
    The best "weapon" against an IED-network in my view is infantry doing foot patrols, showing presence, not only observing but controlling an AOO ...
    But I still have the following question: what is from your point of view the ideal vehicle for supporting those infantry guys doing foot patrols?
    x Is it the MRAP? - from what I've read so far, the majority disaggrees
    x Is it an uparmored HUMMWV? (i hope i spelled that right) - from what I've heard from our instructors (all retired US Army with multiple tours as adivsors/trainers in Afghanistan and Iraq), because of its small size etc it is not.
    Addendum: if the best weapon against IEDs is "boots on the ground", you need more than 2-3 dismounts per vehicle.
    x Is it some kind of wheeled APC? Stryker, Fuchs, Pandur to name a few.
    x Or is it just some kind of armored truck, like a MAN or UNIMOG with additional armor

    I would be interested in your comments and maybe further information, especially since it is my job at home to train soldiers to be squad or platoon leaders at the Austrian Infantry School.

    Johannes
    Last edited by Johannes U; 11-17-2010 at 03:20 PM. Reason: spelling plus addendum
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johannes U View Post
    But I still have the following question: what is from your point of view the ideal vehicle for supporting those infantry guys doing foot patrols?
    "It depends," and what you need the "support" to do.

    What's the threat? What's the terrain? How good is your training? Do you have helicopters - which was what defeated the IRA's IED threat. A well trained foot patrol can stay out for days, being re-supplied either by caches or helicopter drops. Re-supply can even be "dropped" from "civilian vehicles."

    Training, risk and competence solves 95% of the problem. It's not a "vehicle" issue. It's a competence issue.
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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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  17. #217
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Talking Everyone is entitled to my opinion, Johannes U...

    In order of your list, I'd vote for:

    No -- MRAPs are the worst choice. Logistically, tactically and mobility-wise unsound in all aspects
    No -- Poor vehicle; tries to be all things to all people and fails. Number of troops issue is secondary but does have the benefit of fewer casualties in event of a catastrophic hit.
    Yes -- best choice, multi-task capable and designed as a combat vehicle for ANYTHING less than high intensity armored combat. Pandur or the Patria AMV would be my current choices as both offer many advantages over the Stryker.
    No -- MRAP by another name; only saving grace is logistic commonality which the MRAP doesn't have.

    And Wilf is right, the old METT-TC factors rule. Ignoring those factors is always perilous and the MRAP problems are that Troops Available will misuse them and the Enemy will find way to negate their already limited value.

    As long as I'm here...

    M.L.

    I don't think that's what he wrote...

    Quote Originally Posted by M.L. View Post
    There are a couple of assumptions in this argument. The first is that "intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, proper patrolling techniques, and deployments" and MRAPs are mutually exclusive...While I see your point that MRAPs provide an opportunity for Soldiers to avoid engaging with the local populace, staying on the FOB does the same thing. It is a leadership issue, not a force protection issue...On the other hand, suggesting that no force protection is warranted simply because too much may inhibit mission accomplishment seems wrong...While casualties are a part of war,

    the idea that we shouldn't do anything to mitigate risk is nonsense...
    I think his point was that balance should be sought between the competing demands of mission and protection and the MRAP stacks the deck toward the latter at possibly excessive cost to the former. He also addressed the fact that we consistently and IMO wrongly downplay the harsh and unforgiving aspects of the job that is soldiering for some unfathomable reason. Among other flaws, that leads (or allows...) politicians to think wars can be successfully waged and concluded on the cheap. They cannot. Such an approach also deludes prospective entrants to the Armed Forces. A better approach is that old Marine recruiting poster below.

    Poor leaders will not do what you correctly say is required and the presence of the MRAP provides not only an excuse but an incentive to do wrong. Good leaders won't have the problem but not all leaders are good -- some are atrocious -- and the poor can be encouraged to do better by tactically sound and sensible equipment choices rather than reacting to media hype and political spin. No one has a problem with force protection, the question is how to best balance that with mission parameters. The MRAP was a poor solution, politically forced and does not merit defense -- or retention in the inventory.
    Last edited by Ken White; 10-27-2011 at 01:20 AM.

  18. #218
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    Ken:

    My reading of his post does not support your contention. His exact words are

    "I have no problem using MRAP-class vehicles to 'transport' soldiers to their AOs (say on the first day of their tour), or for moving beans and bullets, or as specialized engineer vehicles. But the MRAP is exactly the wrong way to approach the IED threat. The right way is through intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, proper patrolling techniques, and deployments that don't require constant commuting."

    This suggests to me that MRAP is "wrong" and TTPs are "right." There is nothing in these words that would lead me to your conclusion that he is advocating a balanced approach.

    As to the point of leadership. Indeed, leaders often have incentives to do the wrong thing. As to the point that, "poor can be encouraged to do better by tactically sound and sensible equipment choices rather than reacting to media hype and political spin."

    I'd simply say that if your subordinate leaders are not getting out of their MRAPs, you have a leadership, not a material issue. You can band aid the symptom by removing MRAPs, but the leadership issue will remain. Or, you can solve the root problem, and have MRAPs too.

    This is all too common; remove the ability to make a bad decision rather than teaching Soldiers to make a right decision. Good leaders do the latter.

    This discussion seems to be overlooking the fact that the modern BCT is required to project forces over wide areas of real estate. That requires a lot of driving to get where you need to go. It seems that a vehicle with MRAP-like capability would facilitate this. After all, wasn't this the original idea of mechanized infantry? Protect the Soldiers until they reached the obj, where they can then dismount and fight?
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  19. #219
    Council Member IntelTrooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by M.L. View Post
    This discussion seems to be overlooking the fact that the modern BCT is required to project forces over wide areas of real estate. That requires a lot of driving to get where you need to go. It seems that a vehicle with MRAP-like capability would facilitate this. After all, wasn't this the original idea of mechanized infantry? Protect the Soldiers until they reached the obj, where they can then dismount and fight?
    I don't think anyone is saying that the MRAP has no place in our formations. It certainly has limited utility. And if an entire BCT is having to commute great distances to work... I would say that they are not properly employing our pop-COIN principles. It's hard to "Clear" or "Hold" anything, let alone "Build" when you're having to reclaim the same road every morning.
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    IntelTrooper,

    I understand what you are saying, however, if you look at Afghanistan, a piece of real estate the size of the southeast US, then look at how many BCTs we have there, it seems reasonable that we can't clear, hold, and build everywhere. Therefore, we need to accept risk in some places, and have a force projection capability to rapidly react to enemy activity in those places.

    I agree with you to a point - in an ideal world, we aren't commuting.

    In the real world, with a 10 DIV Army, you must have force projection capabilities.
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