Journey of a National Guard Soldier going Active

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Special Defense Department Briefing on Armored Vehicles

This is a briefing that I came across on the net that pretty much has everything to do with what I'm doing, it's good to know that shit is finally rolling. Thank the frickin lord for Spc. Wilson, because NO SHIT if it wasn't for his question to Sec. Rumsfeld. I really don't think there would be this much hoopla about the scurrying for up-armored vehicles; case in point. We had new model up-armor humvees ordered a loooonnng time ago, along with extra armor. Before this whole incident happened, whenever anyone would ask when the Humvees were coming, the answer would always be "I don't know, but it's on order." Now, we'll be getting them pretty much before christmas. Coincidence? maybe, but that's one helluva coincidence.

here's some parts of the briefing that I felt was important to me:

Q I wanted to ask – it’s John Lumpkin with the Associated Press. I wanted to ask less about the quantity of armored vehicles and more about the quality of the armor itself. Two different ways … kind of lines there.

One is, generally is there a sense that a lot of soldiers are going through and putting sort of improvised armor or other protection on their vehicles, either through scrap yards or other means? If so, does that suggest the vehicles are not coming to them armored in a satisfactory way? Along the same line is this level-three armor. Does it provide enough protection on the trucks, is it stopping enough attacks, or is there a need for heavy -- medium-heavy trucks with essentially a greater level of armored protection?

GEN. WHITCOMB: That's a great question. The answer is, how much is enough? If I can add another plate or another inch or more to the vehicle I'm riding in that gives me protection, it's better. I mean, that is absolutely the case. It's why we have a 72-ton M1A2 Abrams tank, because we reacted to the threats, the capability to produce a better round. So I think that's a prudent thing to do if a soldier has the capability.

Do I think that it is widespread that our soldiers are going out and trying to add armor? I do not have that indication. I don't want to say it's not happening, because I'm sure it is, but I don't -- in my opinion, it's not being done in mass numbers or mass quantities.

Does a level-three protection give you level one? No, it doesn't. And we make no bones about it. The good news is it does -- level one and level two do give you protection.

And I've got a couple of great noncommissioned officers, our best spokesmen here, Sergeant First Class Steve Mikes (sp) out of the 1486th Transportation Company, and Sergeant First Class Joe Litchard (sp) out of the same company, that were convoy commanders. They run that dangerous route that runs from Kuwait up into north of Baghdad. And incidentally, that route is out as far as driving from Wilmington, North Carolina to Canton, Ohio, except when you drive from Wilmington to Canton, it's not through Indian territory.

But both these great soldiers, Sergeant Mikes (sp) and Sergeant Litchard (sp), both were attacked when they were performing their duties and had level-one armor protect them. And I asked him, "Well, what would have happened if you hadn't had level-three armor, if you hadn't had the steel plating?" He said, "Well, sir, I would have been shot." I mean, that's pretty basic. And we also had attack with using the add-on armor, the level-two kind of capability. It protected these men, these soldiers.

That is not to say that we have not lost soldiers that had no armor, level one, level two, level three. We have. And it's tragic, and we accept that and we accept our responsibility to get our troops the best protection that we can. And that's what we are about doing.

Q General, this is Pam Hess with United Press International. On the humvees, can you tell us how many you've lost in -- to IED incidents?

And would you also address the issues of these truck convoys? Obviously, having a Bradley fighting vehicle in a convoy does nothing to protect an unarmored truck against an IED. And I spent a month there this summer, and every convoy that I was in was almost made up entirely of unarmored trucks. And it looks like those numbers of armoring there, according to the House Armored Services Committee, are quite low. I think something like only 15 percent are getting armor. So would you discuss all the thought process that goes into the truck armoring issues?

GEN. WHITCOMB: Okay. Sure. I'm not going to get the specific numbers in terms of what -- how many wheel vehicles that we've lost. First, I don't have the precise number.

What I can tell you is that from up-armored humvees, the level one, we've had in the neighborhood of 120 combat losses. I don't know whether they're all due to IEDs or RPGs or accidents, but there are about 120 up-armored vehicles that are have lost. And we've replaced those, and those in fact have the priority, up north from General Metz and General Casey, to replace those things.

The -- your comment on convoys -- again, I'm not going to get the specific numbers, because it's a(n) operational tactic. But what we try and do with our convoys is to move them with a mix of -- gun trucks is what we call them. Sergeant Mikes (sp) and Sergeant Litchard (sp) are gun truck commanders, convoy commanders. And so we interspace those vehicles, some number of them, throughout the length of the convoy. And the convoys vary in size, to some degree, and in that kind of space. They rely primarily on speed as they're moving on their route, as it sounds like you well know, having traveled with them.

And I'm moving -- our goal towards up-armoring those vehicles continues. I can't recall when you said you were in Iraq, traveling, but you mentioned there was a low number of those wheel vehicles that had armor plating on them or some form of armor.

What I can address now is what we are sending up, where we -- and what we've been doing for the last couple of months is designed to -- we're never going to fix it totally, but to minimize that kind of problem; to ensure that if we've got a soldier in a military vehicle, they've got some type of protection on that vehicle.

Q. On the humvees, could you talk about the degradation on humvee performance with this extra armor on it?

GEN. WHITCOMB: .....that's a good question. Some of these vehicles were not designed to take steel plating or the heavy add-on armor that we've got. The up-armored humvee, the level one, is a built-from-scratch Corvette, if you will. I mean, that's a vehicle designed to carry that heavy weight. Its engine, transmission, suspension carries that pretty well.
But this add-on armoring runs anywhere from about a thousand pounds of steel plating up to about 4,000 pounds of additional weight. So a lot of our vehicles, as you point out, are not designed -- their engines aren't designed to carry perhaps an additional ton of weight, the suspension and the transmission.

So we do have a program in place to take vehicles off line, be able to bring them down, either in Iraq, if it can be done -- forward is the best way -- or to ship them down here, where we can refurbish the guts of the vehicle -- engines, transmissions, suspension, other things. And then where we can, what we do is we -- for example, if it's got level three, the armor strapped on, we'll upgrade it with the add-on armor kit. So we're able to do that.
You know, candidly, we're not doing it in large numbers yet. We're doing it where we can. We're building a capacity to be able to do that more frequently, to refurbish the fleet. But that is an issue.

The other thing that we're dealing with is the fact that we've got great equipment. I mean, our soldiers are great soldiers, but they've got great equipment. And these trucks have been -- and tanks and Bradleys and other things have been ridden hard. I mean, they're taken out of the stable every day. You get several year’s work on them, miles on them, in the course of perhaps a couple of months. And so that's a greater issue of how do we refurbish the fleet, how do we bring that back up to a capability that we can launch it off when the cord's pulled to pull us out.


"I'd like to leave with just a couple of quick things.

I want to go back to my comment -- and this is not patronizing to our secretary of Defense, but I appreciate him coming. I'm a three-star general, and I get excited when my momma tells me, "Son, you done good." And I get excited when a four-star general says, "Whitcomb, you did okay." We got excited when the secretary of Defense went to Camp Buehring yesterday or a couple of days ago, and his sincerity doesn't come across necessarily on the screen.
What you didn't see was his very heartfelt comment on the success in Afghanistan, a story that we don't cover very well but is a great success story of a country that now has freedom and now has a future. And we're trying to build that capability for Iraq, as you well know.
What you also didn't see were the standing ovations when the secretary thanked the troops, thanked them from his heart. You can sense when a guy is -- or gal is thanking you and it's not from the heart. He did. And the third thing you didn't see was the 45 minutes he spent after the discussion trying to shake every hand and get every photograph snapped with every kid that had an Instamatic or a cell phone. And so that's important and that is meaningful to us.
The second point I'd make to you is this armoring is an important part of where the Army is heading and what the Army is trying to do to protect our forces; it's not the only thing. Back in August of 2003, the first thing we looked at were our tactics and techniques and procedures for conducting convoy operations and how could we do that and better protect our kids, and we found some good things that worked. Unfortunately, we had a smart enemy that also adapted their ways of doing business.

The other thing that we've got -- and I won't talk about it because it is very sensitive -- is we're leveraging technology, how to detect where IEDs are, who's using them, how they're being set off and those kinds of things so we could go out there early and kill those guys before they're able to execute.

So it's a multi-phased, multifaceted operation that our Army's involved in."

Here's the site if you wanna check out the whole thing, it's not too long and not that boring to read..really good info on the situation.


Blogger Toni said...

That was a super posting. I knew some of the stuff about the ovation but didn't know about the sticking around nor about the Generals comments. Thanks

12/18/2004 3:24 AM


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