From the Baltimore Sun (via dKos):
"The thousands of troops that President Bush is expected to order to Iraq will join the fight largely without the protection of the latest armored vehicles that withstand bomb blasts far better than the Humvees in wide use, military officers said.
Vehicles such as the Cougar and the M1117 Armored Security Vehicle have proven ability to save lives, but production started late and relatively small numbers are in use in Iraq, mostly because of money shortages, industry officials said.
More than 1,000 American troops have been killed by roadside bombs since the war began in March 2003. At present there are fewer than 1,000 of the new armored trucks in Iraq. At $500,000 to $700,000 each, they cost more than twice as much as a standard Humvee, but already they are proving their worth.
"They are expensive, but they are going to save lives," said Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, during a recent trip to Iraq, where he reviewed the service's effort to get more of the vehicles."
Apparently, these new vehicles have two advantages over up-armored Humvees: they weren't designed for the extra armor, and they have a flat bottom that doesn't deal well with absorbing the full force of an IED. The new vehicles, by contrast, "are built with a V-shaped hull that deflects a blast up and outward, leaving passengers shaken, but alive." As a result:
""If you are hit by an IED, your chance of survival is four or five times greater in an MRAP than in a M1114," said a Marine commander, referring to the standard Humvee.
About half of the Marines' combat vehicles in Anbar are Humvees, and these are associated with 60 percent of the combat deaths and 65 percent of the wounded Marines, officers said. By comparison, attacks on V-hull armored vehicles have resulted in 2.1 percent of Marine combat deaths and 3.5 percent of the service's wounded."
So why don't we have more of them? Some people quoted in the article cite a lack of money, which I refuse to accept as an explanation: it is obviously not true that the United States literally doesn't have enough money to pay for these vehicles, just that we don't have enough to pay for them while buying everything else we want to buy that we value more than our soldiers' lives. As far as I'm concerned, if we can afford Bush's tax cuts, we can surely afford to spend what it takes to protect people who have volunteered to risk their lives for our country; and given a choice between the two, I pick the soldiers every time. Other people cite the difficulty of getting manufacturing up and running. I don't really see why this should have taken so long either: I don't expect people to be able to create a manufacturing plant by snapping their fingers, but a country that worked the procurement miracles that we managed in World War II should be able to get something like this up to speed in under four years.
That's why this explanation makes most sense to me (either alone or as something that exacerbated the two factors just mentioned):
"The key reason it is taking so long is pretty simple: At each step along the way for the past four years, the key policymakers have assumed we were just months away from beginning to withdraw" from Iraq, said Loren B. Thompson, a national security analyst at the Lexington Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Arlington, Va. "As a result, they never made long-term plans for occupying the country effectively."
That we are ruled by idiots is bad enough. That good people have to die for their idiocy is unforgivable.