Marine vehicle delays cost American lives

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.

Gayl, a retired Marine officer, is the science and technology adviser to Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, who heads the department.

The Associated Press first reported on Gayl’s study Feb. 15. At that time, Gayl’s work had not been reviewed by his immediate supervisor, Col. David Wilkinson, Lapan said Monday.

“The paper represents Gayl’s personal opinions and is clearly marked as such,” Lapan said. “It is both preliminary and pre-decisional, and therefore a mischaracterization to term his work an official study or report.”

Gen. Robert Magnus, the Marine Corps’ assistant commandant, disputed Gayl’s conclusions in a recent interview with Marine Corps Times.

Magnus and other Marine Corps officials have said the defense industry lacked the capacity to build MRAPs in large numbers when the 2005 request was made. The best solution to the deadly roadside bombs planted by insurgents was to add extra layers of steel to the less sturdy Humvee, they said.

“I don’t think (the study) stands up to the facts about what we did, about what the industry was capable of doing and why we did what we did,” Magnus told the newspaper in an interview. “I just don’t think that’s accurate.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the MRAP the Pentagon’s No. 1 acquisition priority in May 2007. Defense contractors are now producing close to 1,000 vehicles a month.

Gayl has clashed with his superiors in the past and filed for whistle-blower protection last year. In his study, he recommended an inquiry be conducted to determine if any military or government employees are culpable for failing to rush critical gear to the troops.

“If the mass procurement and fielding of MRAPs had begun in 2005 in response to the known and acknowledged threats at that time, as the (Marine Corps) is doing today, hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented,” Gayl said. “While the possibility of individual corruption remains undetermined, the existence of corrupted MRAP processes is likely, and worthy of (inspector general) investigation.”

Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del., and Kit Bond, R-Mo., called for an investigation after reviewing Gayl’s report.

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.


  1. Sandra Price

    The day after America entered WW2, all hell broke loose in our ability to manufacture the finest weapons and tanks. To start with people lined up to serve (army and navy) and to protect (manufacturing plants).

    Now that our government is so over-bloating in redundancy and our manufacturing plants are in India and China, it is understandable why it took 2 years to arm our tanks.

    A limited government would be prepared and our congress could focus on their real jobs of protecting Americans. Worrying about drug use in sports, how to present Intelligent Design in our schools and trying to stop abortions and gay marriages is not the job of the federal government.

    Maybe it is time for a change of Party in America and try to return our military equipment to North America, built by American Citizens….

  2. bryan mcclellan

    These common SOB’s are too busy/(broke)giving bribes to warlords and have broken the sacred trust to protect and arm our soldiers with the best equipment available.Casualties are nothing more than collateral pawns to bush and his generals.They might as well supply them with YUGO’s for all the good a Humvee is against a mine.Curse them All.

  3. pollchecker

    “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.”

    Here is the real reason they were delayed. And it is a shame that the Bushies put no value on American lives. How many people have died from explosions that didn’t have to?

    It is more important to the “steal and spend” Republicans to put more of out taxes dollars in the pockets of their friends at the military industrial complex than it is to save a life of brave american soldiers. And they are proud of it.

    Guess the military isn’t as happy about it.

  4. Jim Maas

    The best way to save hundreds of American lives and millions of American dollars is the bring our troops home. Problem solved.

  5. SEAL

    This is not the same military I was in. Even if Gayl is incorrect there is no excuse for taking so long to get the MRAPs to Iraq.

    Pollchecker is right. Everything the government does takes twice as long as proposed and costs twice as much. That applies to school buildings and highways and anything else you can think of. The proposals look good and the contracts are signed and then all those unforseen problems delay construction and that means extra costs which are always authorized. Everyone is milking the tax dollars. That’s your money.

    That’s also your children, brothers, husbands, or fathers that die or come home crippled because of the way the government does business.

    BTW gas just went up another 20 cents a gal. Remember Bush’s promise that the Iraqi oil would pay for everything?

  6. nigeldh

    Read Soldiers for the Truth,, to see how the “perfumed princes” in the military have been doing this and worse. The classical punish the whistle blowers and promote the guilty.

  7. CheckerboardStrangler

    If you would like to see these vehicles in action I recommend that you watch this YouTube video, I shot most of it except for the stock footage, which is easily recognizable.

    Regardless of my thoughts on the war in Iraq I still do think our soldiers deserve to be safe.

    This video was produced for Force Protection Industries, which manufactures and assembles all their vehicles in South Carolina. Vocals by Marcus Lindsey, written by Josh Goode.
    Directed by Matthew JC and edited by Clinton Curnutt.

    JeffH in Occupied TX

  8. pollchecker

    “Regardless of my thoughts on the war in Iraq I still do think our soldiers deserve to be safe.”

    You’re damn right they deserve to be safe. Since over 95% of the injuries and the fatalities involve explosive devices, it is a crime that our soldiers don’t have everything they need to do their jobs and come home safely. If an employer put his employees knowingly in such jeopardy, they would be held accountable in a court of law. The gov’t is technically the employer of these soldiers that are all volunteers.

    Now I am not a supporter to this war, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand that if you put value on safety and preserving lives you spend the money to get the necessary equipment.

    In fact, if I remember correctly, I believe one of their promises back in 2004 was to get more of this type of equipment when this first came to light. So GW can not blame the Democrats for this. He and his “spend and steal” Republican cronies had 2 years to allocate plenty of money for this equipment.

    But GW showed what he placed value on when he decided not to spend the money on the very equipment needed to save lives and elected to pay back his campaign debts from 2004 by spending the money on new equipment purchased from the very campaign donors.

    And what has John McCain done about this? He was/is on the Defense Committee during the Republican reign of power. He could have made certain that the soldiers whose lives he advocates keeping overseas indefinitely had that equipment. But he has been an accessory to the “spend and steal” Republicans for the past 8 years. He has not championed the soldier he professes to represent or else he would have led a coalition from both parties to ensure our soldiers had this equipment over 3 years ago when it was promised by the Republicans who coincidentally were in control of both houses of the Congress at that time.

  9. Flapsaddle

    The government couldn’t make instant coffee in less than 90 days – many years ago I heard that said by either Howard K. Smith or Andy Rooney. Whoever said it, they were spot on.

    The military, even more than other large bureaucracies, is extremely resistant to change. Weapons and equipment lag well behind the times.

    During the Civil War, the Ordnance Board refused to adopt breechloaders as standard issue partly on the grounds that soldiers would expend ammunition to profligately. We were the last major power to adopt modern magazine-fed military rifles – and then they were equipped with a magazine cut-off to prevent troops from firing too much.

    We were the last major power to develop tanks as the “arm of decision”. After World War I, armor development was under the control of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Infantry – where it was treated as an infantry-support weapon, a mobile MG position intended solely to assist the advance of foot-soldiers. As a result, we got dogs like ther M-3 Grant and even the so-called “improved” Sherman M-4 that were gasoline-powered, under-armored, under-gunned death-traps for the crews in fights with German armor in North Africa and in Europe.

    The Marines resisted exchanging their bolt-action ’03 Springfield rifles for the semi-automatic Garand M-1; they resisted the change from the M-1 to the M-14, and they resisted the change from the M-14 to the M-16.

    The services resisted the change to the “Fritz” helmet, even though the design had been established as superior by the Germans 70 years before.

    I’m not surprised that it’s taking years to get the vehicles upgraded.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  10. pollchecker

    “I’m not surprised that it’s taking years to get the vehicles upgraded.”

    But the equipment our soldiers need is currently available. It’s not a matter of an upgrade.

    The point is they CHOSE not to spend the money on buying the needed equipment but instead to spend it on future equipment. That’s the problem and it’s criminal since people are dying as a direct result. And worse, they promised they would spend the money to provide our troops more safety when the matter was first exposed.

    It’s not a matter of taking too long to get the equipment over there. It’s a matter of their spending priorities which has been proven repeated in favor of US military companies who are big GW donors.

    Even the armor they wear had the same controversy. They had the ability to buy really good armored vests from the Israelis but chose to use what they had which was proven to be not as good and spend the money on development of a better jacket made by a member of the US military industrial complex. And guess what happened a couple of years when the so-called better jacket came out at taxpayers expense? It was not as good.

    The problem is people are dying as a result. If they can’t equip them, they should just bring them home. If they won’t bring them home, they should at least do what they promised the American people they would do and give them the best equipment available.

    This wasn’t created by the Dems this time. This lies soley on the back of GW and his Bushie clan and the “spend and steal” GOP that had total control of Congress during that time when promises were made with McCain at the helm of the Defense Committee.

  11. Carl Nemo

    Hi TJF…

    First, great commentary on your part as usual…! : )

    “they resisted the change from the M-14 to the M-16.”…

    Yep and if our military were smart they’d dump the .223 round and copy the AK47 with proper licensing and distribute the weapon to our troops, then we’d have ammo that’s compatible with 90 percent of the available small arms throughout the world. The AK is alot of bang for the buck and has served our enemies well throughout modern history. It’s also been in service since 1947 which is a statement in itself concerning its superlative operating qualities under a broad range of conditions.

    On occasion you’ll see our Marines or even SOC personnel toting an AK in lieu of their issued ordnance. The reason is that these weapons are marvelously resistant to jams from sand, mud, and other such field associated issues and they don’t cost a several thousand plus bucks a pop to make like a lot of HK and SIG products. The M16 is a piece of junk in my opinion! It always has been and always will be.

    The problem with our military R&D command is that they always gravitate towards highly expensive alternatives for weaponry because they have a lien on the the U.S. taxpayers debt money courtesy of their unholy liasson with our corrupt Congressional enablers many if not most who have never been in a combat situation.

    Thanks for your incisive thoughts as always.

    Carl Nemo **==

  12. Sandra Price

    Pollchecker. Several years ago a group of us sent literally hundreds of letters to the Senate to up grade immediately any equipment to make our soldiers safer. This alert may have come from “Soldiers for Truth.” I did notify several forums to get letters or faxes off but few bothered to even respond to my request.

    I do not recall if anyone received an answer on the request but very few bothered to even send the faxes. Apathy along with bad leadership seems to be the game in America these days. We really need change in our government and throw the bastards out!

  13. pollchecker

    I remember the campaign. I was lurking around at the time. But again the point is, that McCain promised that our troops would be taken care of with the proper equipment over and over and over again.

    If he was such a great leader which they are now touting him as, why didn’t he lead the way to getting the proper equipment such as these humvees and armored vests?

    You can give Clinton and Obama a pass because at the time of both these incidents, the Dems were not the powers in control of Congress. But McCain was prominent on these committees as well as in his vocal support for our troops in Iraq.

    Obviously it was just words. Words that the “steal and spend” GOP are very good at using. In many cases, it is just too bad. But when people are dying as a result it is shameful. And then to advocate for more of the same if given the power? Down right criminal. That’s what it is….CRIMINAL!

  14. Flapsaddle

    By “upgrade” I meant the acquisition of the improved item, not necessarily its R&D and maufacture; your post was quite clear about the immediate availability.

    But the bureaucratic resistance is the same, because very often “rice bowls” are involved or else the service(s) suffer from the all-too-frequent “not invented here” syndrome.

    Case in point: Some years ago, the Army wanted a better CP (concrete piercing) fuze for artillery high-explosive projectiles. The Navy had a very good fuze that it had used for decades, and it could be adapted with little effort and meet the Army specifications.

    But no, that would not do, because it meant that several O-3, O-4, O-5 and O-6 billets would go away, along with the chance to be “mentioned in dispatches”, and an Army contractor would probably not get its share of the spoils. It dragged on for several years, but I do not know if it was resolved or just shelved.

    My own feeling is that if it’s better and it’s available then I do not give a rat’s rump who gets hare-lipped if we get it to protect some troop who is laying it on the line.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle

  15. Flapsaddle

    The .223 was “Strange” MacNamara’s baby, IIRC; part and parcel of his whole concept of converting the Army into a force for fighting irregulars. While he did bring some improvements to the military purchasing process, that glorified little parts-buyer from Ford did much to wreck the coventional war-fighting capability of the Army.

    I’d agree that the M16 is pretty much a piece of crap; it’s too expensive to buy and too difficult to maintain. The 6mm is just too light for stopping power. I believe that there were something like a hundred modifications to the design and specifications before they got it to work well; as I remember it, the earliest versions didn’t even have a bolt-follower and the receiver was not chromed.

    If we did the AK under license, we’d just be doing what a hundred other countries already do. It wouldn’t be anything like a precendent, as our first modern military rifle, the Krag-Jorgenson, was under license from a European maker. Next, the 1903 Springfield .30 was such a copy of the Mauser that I recall that we paid the Germans a royalty of $3/rifle and $0.02/stripper clip; this continued even during WW1, and the royalties were held in trust until the war ended. As I see it, the three best of the four “all-American” small-arms are/were the M1911 .45 pistol, the .30 M1 Garand and the 7.62mm M14 rifles. As a point of honor, we should never forget the Browning .50 M2 machine gun – probably our finest contribution as a real hoser of the battlefield.

    Most sincerely,

    T. J. Flapsaddle