24 June Stars and Stripes - GAO: Poor Communications Put Marines at Higher Risk of IEDs.

Poor communication between the Army and Marines, combined with Corps commanders’ decision to up-armor only a limited number of trucks at a time, put Marines in Iraq at increased risk from roadside bombs, a Government Accoubtability Office report found.

Defense Department officials acknowledged the delay but disputed that Marines were exposed to any unnecessary danger.

The report, released this week, said the Marine Corps did not recognize that truck armor provided insufficient protection against roadside bombs until January 2004, two months after the Army had started looking for better truck armor to protect soldiers.

“Had the Marine Corps began seeking armor solutions in November 2003, it might have been able to acquire the preferred type of steel in time for its March 2004 deployment to Iraq,” the report said.

Instead, it took the Marines eight months to fully upgrade the armor on its trucks in Iraq. In the meantime, the Marines used interim armor that still did not provide the protection needed against roadside bombs, GAO researchers found.

“As a result, the fielding of add-on armor and integrated armor was stretched out over a longer period, placing troops at greater risk as they conducted wartime operations in vehicles without the preferred level of protection,” the report said.

The report blames the delays on a lack of coordination between the Marine Corps and Army and the fact that the Marines could only up-armor a limited number of trucks at one time to continue conducting operations...