There seems to be quite a flap in the media these days about the lack of armored Humvees in Iraq, so I guess I’ll weigh in on the issue. First, a disclaimer: I am, by every definition, a REMF (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker), which means my main threat here is weight gain or spraining an ankle while walking to dinner. Thus, my perspective on armor on Humvees is probably different from someone who’s going out in the shit every day. That being said…
Nothing you do to a Humvee is going to make it an “armored vehicle.” The Humvee is the modern equivalent of the WWII Jeep – as the acronym implies (HMMWV), it’s a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. In the context of my unit, they’re mostly used to carry the shelters that contain our radio and switching equipment. There’s no way I can turn this into anything but a target.
I can put armor kits on my truck all day long, but the undercarriage is still exposed, the fuel tank is still made of plastic, the hood is still fiberglass, the tires still have air in them. (Yeah, you can get run-flats, but…) Furthermore, all the additional weight that the retrofit armor adds must be brutal on the trucks – most of the retrofitted vehicles around here are so heavy that their front wheels are pushed all the way up into the wheelwell. The Humvees that are built from the ground up to be armored are better; they have bigger engines and must have upgraded suspension as well – they’re designed to handle the extra weight.
Honestly, the real tragedy of the Humvee is the engine – some of our trucks can barely reach 45 miles per hour! In our line of work, if I could take all the weight that armor and sandbags adds and put it towards a new engine, I’d do it. Our SOP mostly involves running away from fights anyway.
The claim that the lack of armored Humvees is a damning indictment of President Bush is absurd, too – that’s like saying the Eighth Air Force’s lack of long-range escort fighters early in WWII is a savage criticism of FDR’s joining the war in Europe. Both scenarios represent a paradigm shift – a fundamental change in the nature of warfare. The US Army that came to war in 2003 was still much the same one that won Desert Storm: heavy armor, artillery, mechanized infantry, and airpower, supported by allegedly rear-echelon troops like me. The Army wasn’t doctrinally or structurally organized for a free-flowing all-areas battle, and “tragically unarmored” Humvees are a part of that.
As with every war, though, the military is adapting – the fleets of armored Humvees and the very training that I received is proof of that.
Update: Read 2slick’s post on the subject. Also it seems that the guy asking the question was coached by a reporter…real integrity there.
Update 2: Welcome to everyone from 2slick’s Forum…he’s making me blush like a schoolgirl over here!