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Military Mobilization: Ralph Peters is Wrong

| 32 Comments | 3 TrackBacks
Trent Telenko emails to note: While this passage in a recent Ralph Peters column sounds reasonable: bq. "Poland did have one request - a humble one, in the great scheme of things. Warsaw asked for $47 million to modernize six used, American-built C-130 transport aircraft and to purchase American-built HMMWV all-terrain vehicles so elite Polish units could better integrate operations with American forces. Much of the money would go right back to U.S. factories and workers." It shows that Ralph Peters is both wrong and that he never made it to the US Military's Industrial War College. We are running into Churchill's classic military industrial mobilization paradigm: "The first year you get nothing, the second year you get a trickle, the third year you get all you want." Afghanistan turned on the precision guided munitions part of the defense industrial base. It did not turn on the US Army and Marine Corps' wheeled and armored vehicle industrial base. Both Afghanistan and Iraq were short wars in terms of offensive operations, and our industrial support systems are built around short wars. It is too expensive to keep a large unused industrial capacity for both without a threat like the Soviet Union, so Congress didn't. Now we are paying the price.
The US Army has caught unholy hell because it shipped interceptor body armor to the Poles ahead of US National Guard formations getting ready for or now in Iraq. It isn't going to do the same with HMMWVs. The type of HMMWV that the Poles want are the M1114 armored variants. The Army is flat out at maximum production capacity with the vehicle, and every truck that it lets the Poles buy is one less for American troops in Iraq. The issue is likely the same for C-130s. The USAF can only fly C-130s and C-17s into Baghdad and Kabul because of the shoulder fired missile threat, and it is flying only the latest and most up to date electronic counter measures equipped planes. The Poles want the same anti-missile equipment that the USAF is using up in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and there is none to spare. This article from the Government Executive about Military Depots -- and the Congressional politics involved -- makes clear the problems of ground forces industrial mobilization. See this passage:
"The length and high tempo of Iraq operations are stressing all the Army's depots. Gary Motsek, deputy commander for support operations at the Army Materiel Command, says all five depots - at Red River; Anniston, Ala.; Corpus Christi, Texas; Letterkenny, Pa.; and Tobyhanna, Pa. - are spending more money and employing more people this year than last year. Spending is expected to double from $2 billion in fiscal 2003 to $4.5 billion in 2004, and overall employment could rise by as much as 15 percent - from about 7,000 to 8,000 or more. "Depots across the board will be executing substantially more work than they have in the past," says Motsek. To handle the rising tide of work, the Army may, for the first time, request a Pentagon waiver of the so- called "50-50" rule, which prevents contractors from performing more than half of all depot work. The Army is running out of people and space to do the work. Currently, the Army contracts out about 48 percent of its depot work to contractors."
...and this passage:
"Lately, workers have had to discard more shoes than usual. Under normal wear, Bradley tracks are changed once a year, after 1,000 miles of wear. Today they are reaching the 1,000-mile mark in two or three months. As a result, the Red River production facility, the Army's only in-house source of Bradley tracks (Goodyear does some limited work), has gone from producing 5,000 to 6,000 shoes a month (enough to outfit about 30 Bradleys) to as many as 18,000 a month (enough for about 107 Bradleys). This year, the facility has ramped up from three shifts, five days a week, to three shifts - including one that's 12 hours long - seven days a week. The number of federal workers at the rubber plant has increased from 78 to 128 and more contractors have been brought on under short-term contracts to help cover the added shifts. Depot employees say they view the extra hours as their contribution to the war. Many wage-grade employees have worked so much overtime that they have stopped getting extra pay. Instead, they trade their overtime for more vacation days because earning more money would push them into higher tax brackets. Russell Vogeltanz, a front-line supervisor in the rubber facility, says he usually has no problem finding workers willing to extend their shift from eight to 12 hours or to work a weekend, though "it's a little hard to make people come out on Sunday, being the Lord's Day," he says. Not only have workers been putting in overtime, but they also have been going places they never expected. Before the Iraq war began, the Army transformed an empty warehouse at the Army's Arifjan Camp in Kuwait into a sixth depot. Nearly 500 civilian workers rotated in and out of the front-line repair center during the past year preparing for combat and then maintaining equipment during the fighting. It is the first depot created in a theater of war. Motsek says that having a depot near the battlefield saves the money and time required to ship equipment stateside. "Instead of just pushing parts and giving advice, these guys are there tearing down engines and making repairs," he says."

3 TrackBacks

Tracked: December 29, 2003 3:20 AM
More on the Poles from murdoc online
Excerpt: Military Mobilization: Ralph Peters is Wrong I'm not pleased about the way we're treating the Poles. I've explained myself here. Trent Telinko notes in Winds of ChangeThe US Army has caught unholy hell because it shipped interceptor body armor to...
Tracked: December 29, 2003 8:06 AM
Shafting the Poles from PunditFilter
Excerpt: Two recent articles on Poland-US relations that have stirred up bloggers: Where US Translates as Freedom by Thomas L. Friedman Shafting the Poles by Ralph Peters Murdoc also notes that the US is buying weapons from Poland and allowing them...
Tracked: December 29, 2003 3:21 PM
It's always more complicated from Low Earth Orbit
Excerpt: As an update to yesterday’s post about support Poland, Winds of Change has a response. It’s worth reading but the...


So, if these depots are at capacity and have been for some time, why isn't the Army being more aggressive about contracting out the work? There is probably considerable vacant manufacturing capacity in the country right now for work of this type.

I'll buy this IF we've been open and up front with the Poles about it. I also think that something needs to be said publicly, although I don't imagine we want to let too many details of our production plan out.

I firmly believe that the Poles are going to be one of our most important allies over the next decade, and we had better do everything we can to make sure they stay that way.

>...why isn't the Army being more aggressive
>about contracting out the work?


This hasn't happened yet because there is a public law passed by Congress mandating that no more than 50% of 'sustainment' support for fielded military systems can come from civilian contractors.

This was a result of the 1990's base and depot closing. Congressmen did not want federal employment in their districts to be 'privatized' elsewhere.

Given the highly charged political sensitivities and the fact there is another round of base closings due in 2005. The Army and other military services have had to follow the Congressional intent and spirit of the law as well as its letter before going for work share waivers.

>I'll buy this IF we've been open and up front
>with the Poles about it. I also think that
>something needs to be said publicly, although I
>don't imagine we want to let too many details of
>our production plan out.


I imagine that on a American military officer to Polish military officer level, it has been straight forward.

The politics of it stinks on a number of levels. At the top level is a Bush Administration that will not admit it is wrong on anything and refuses to fund "traditional" ground force equipment that isn't "transformational."

One of the more bone headed decisions I have seen of late is the cancellation of the US Army Military Police M1117 Armored Security Vehicle (ASV). It is far superior to the M1114 HMMWV gun truck, but it was killed in the same budget scrub as the LOSAT anti-tank missile. See these links for ASV technical information:

The ASV is a decedent of the Army M.P. armored cars used in convoy security in Vietnam, exactly the same problem we have in Iraq, yet it was axed. This is dumb on a number of levels but the most important from a military mobilization prospective is that the ASV has a completely different contractor base than the HMMWV so increasing the ASV's production rate won't be constrained by common parts. The green eye shade Pentagon accountants hate redundent equipment for the same mission, but when you are at war duplication and redundency are a matter of survival on combat's bleeding edge.

See what I said earlier about the Iraq-Vietnam Military Trucking parallels on Winds here:

Return of the Gun Trucks

The bottom line is that the Army needs lots of new trucks and armored fighting vehicles because the current ones are wearing out. I am expecting to see more production of Stryker wheeled APCs to replace superior but worn out Bradley's simply because it has a warm production line.

Then there is the traditional active duty versus National Guard political finger pointing because the Guard never expected to fight with its current equipment and it is blaming the active duty procurement people for shorting them...which they did.

The active Army's traditional work around -- with Congressional approval -- in peace keeping duties in the Balkans or extended humanitarian assignments in Central America was to ship one set of appropriate military equipment and rotate reservists through.

Both the Congress and the active duty Army didn't think that so many reservists activated at once, such that they would have to use their current kit fighting, either. The traditional result is troops are going to the front line with less than the best until military industrial mobilization catches up with the war.

The root problem, from my perspective, is that the public is not sufficiently angry enough from the 9/11 attack to persuade Congress to authorize the production ramp-ups we need. Judging from the campaign rhetoric emanating from the Democratic candidates, the shenanigans of, the Democratic Underground, etc., there is still a sizeable proportion of the American public that is not yet convinced we are at war with a mortal foe.

Sadly, it may require another successful mass casualty attack to convince these folks, and then Congress may open the spigots.

I think there is another fundamental problem with our force structure that has been much commented on but little acted on. It is not a new revelation that our active duty forces are not suffient to cover all our responsibilities even in peace time (guard division were active in the Balkans even before 9/11). This places a lot of stress on the guard and reserve units, but mainly it is the stress of uncertainty. We continue to pretend that the Guard units are temporary stopgaps while in reality they are being called up for two year stints more and more often. Now if this is going to be our policy, then announce it as such so that people know what they are getting into (or have gotten into). If not, then we need to increase the active duty units by at least two divisions, and sooner rather than later. Right now we are living a fantasy that is good for neither the people involved nor readiness.

Samuel, I strongly doubt that an attack of any sort, other than a nation state would even dent the insular world those folks live in. It would give rise, in all probability, to another round of 'Why do they hate us?' bleating.
Happily, there are more than enough Americans that recognize the threat for what it is: asymetrical warfare fought by Muslim fanatics.

Congress, however, still is more concerned with turf protection than actual security. Witness Robert Byrd. They don't seem to be able to understand that the world has moved on, and that very few (none) nation states are going to confront the US in a shooting war. There will be a lot more of the low level, diplomatic obstructionism that France practices than open belligerence. THAT probably won't change until there is documentable evidence of actual complicity at the highest levels with rogue nations by 'Old Europe' et al.

>It is too expensive to keep a large unused
>industrial capacity for both without a threat
>like the Soviet Union, so Congress didn't. Now
>we are paying the price.

Trent, what should we learn from the situation you report on? Could the current need for that large, unused industrial capacity have been predicted by a system that had a history of reliable predictions? What would have been the consequence for other programs (e.g., research and development) of maintaining that capacity? Is the measure of the whole system (e.g., DoD, the Pentagon, the JCS) how they respond now?

Mr. Brown;

I'm not sure that we're suffering so much from letting that industrial capacity get shut down. The essence of a modern economy is flexibility so we should be able to switch over rapidly to war production. In his comment above, Mr. Trelenko notes at least a couple of cases where this could have been done but wasn't, due to political contraints.


There are no good answers here that the politicians will buy into. The real answer is a larger active duty force sized for the mission with the latest and best equipment. The Congress does not want to pay for it at the expense of other domestic discretionary spending. Jim Dunnigan made that clear over on when he pointed out that recent Congressional moves to increase the size of the active duty force manpower levels were political grand standing. The Congress 'critters doing the proposing did not include the additional money to train and equip the larger force.

Nor does the Bush Administration want to mobilize the economy to create a larger force, not at the expense of its tax cuts.

The Clinton era DoD gave lip service to making more of the military's capabilities "dual use" with the civilian economy to make up for this lack of mobilized industrial capacity. Too an extent, it has worked with things electronic that are similar to civilian uses. Physically hardened but non-mil-spec laptops, PDAs and spread spectrum, software driven, digital radios are all examples here.

This system is an abject failure in defense specific technologies like infantry body armor, night vision goggles, the ground forces fighting and supply vehicles, and specialized electronics counter measures systems for aircraft.

The trade offs of past decision can be seen in this article clipped I from the Early Bird:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
December 28, 2003
Pg. 1
Guard Gets Shortchanged, Army Admits
Effort to save money on gear is rethought after copter attack

By Philip Dine, Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The deployment to Iraq of a combined Illinois-Iowa National Guard Chinook unit without required anti-missile defenses did not reflect an oversight or lack of coordination between the Guard and the Army.

Rather, it was the consequence of decisions made years ago by the Army to buy only a portion of the Guard's air defense equipment, senior Guard leaders say.

To save money, and assuming that Guard units were unlikely to be deployed in great numbers or face hostile action, Army officials ordered just 50 percent of the ALQ-156 flare-launching systems actually needed for the Guard's fleet of Chinooks.

"A conscious decision was made not to buy as many as we need," said Lt. Gen. Roger C. Schultz, director of the Army National Guard. "It's a decision that has some level of risk with it."

Concerns about the equipping of Guard units have been heightened since one of the Illinois-Iowa unit's helicopters was shot down, apparently by a shoulder-fired missile, on Nov. 2, killing 16 soldiers. That helicopter carried standard decoy flare dispensers and flare-launching systems but lacked newer devices effective against more modern missile technology.

In separate interviews, Army officials acknowledged the Guard's assertions and said senior Army leaders have made it an "imperative" to address the equipment shortfall for Guard units as soon as possible.

The Army had no choice but to deliberately "only field so much" for the Guard in past years, given competing demands by active-duty forces, an Army official at the Pentagon, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said late last week.

"You have all these war plans on the shelf, and based on these plans, you ask, 'Who do you think is going to deploy?' They'll likely get more resources than a Reserve component somewhere. That decision has to be made, because there is only so much stuff to go around," the Army official said.

The fact that the Illinois-Iowa unit was mobilized with just two of its 14 Chinook helicopters fully outfitted with aircraft survivability equipment didn't surprise the Guard leadership, said Maj. Gen. Walter Pudlowski, acting deputy director of the Army National Guard.
"There are shortages. We flat know that," Pudlowski said. "Somebody, someday, someplace said: 'We're going to accept some risk. We'll authorize the planes but not the equipment.'"

And the article's closing summary:

New kind of warfare

Conventional distinctions between front-line and rear-echelon troops have been blurred in the war on terrorism. Shadowy foes hiding among the population often seem to be targeting forces deemed less battle-ready and more vulnerable.

That heightens the concern over inequities of protective equipment.

"In all likelihood," Goheen said, "the Persian Gulf War in 1991 was the last time in our lifetimes that you'll see another force take on U.S. forces in symmetrical fighting, mechanized force versus mechanized force. Our advantages in training, technology and communications really make that impossible. Our foes in Iraq realize that you don't want to tangle with our combat troops, with the infantry. You want to tangle with the supply lines, with the convoys.

"So everybody goes over as a combatant, and everybody has to be able to protect himself," Goheen said.

Maj. Gen. William Nash, first commander of U.S. forces in Bosnia, said equipment gaps were manageable as recently as in Bosnia but not in terror ist environments such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

And manpower requirements for the campaign against terrorism, including postwar stabilization, raise questions about the shift away from a traditional, heavy force, said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., of the House Armed Services Committee.

"What is very clear is that the war on terrorism is intensely labor-intensive. We know that we are completely burning through the Guard and Reserves," she said. "How do we find a way to level the playing field when it comes to armaments, munitions, tactical equipment, communications equipment?"

These issues point out, once again, the need for the Administration to appoint a Director of Industrial Mobilization. This individual would have broad, cross-organizational responsibility for insuring that we have what we need for the war on terror: whether it's x-ray equipment for baggage scanning here at home, or armored vehicles for Iraq. He would escalate bottlenecks like those caused by the 50% rule for the depots, bringing them the public and congressional attention.

We just aren't showing the full sense of urgency that is needed in this field.

Only 6 months ago, the outgoing Army CoS, GEN Shinseki said this: "Beware the 12 division strategy for a 10 division Army."

Trent rightly points out that the US is wearing out the Army/NG at a great rate. But not because the US was forced to; instead, it was because the US chose to do so. OIF was a conflict of choice, whipped up by misleading statements of the "imminent" threat from Iraq, and "wildly off the mark" assumptions about post-conflict stability in a "liberated" totalitarian state. (And what of Shinseki's prediction for occupation requirements? We were told that there wqould only be ~30k soldiers in Iraq by September 2003! How soon we forget!)

Unfortunately, now the US has to live with the broken open hornets nest. And, at the same time, continue to prosecute a defensive conflict against non-state armed groups who thrive in ungoverned/ungovernable territories (including Afghanistan). Could we be indeed pursuing a 12 division strategy? Seems to me that we may be pursuing a 25 division strategy. In any case, it is clear that we are stretching our over-stretched forces beyond reasonable bounds. This is called over-reach. And we have only begun to see the effects. What will our military look like in another year? 4+ divisions with ratings at or below C-4 (that is 40% of the active US Army divisions) and only sea/air power available for projection overseas. How about 2 years when all the worn out BFVs, HMMWVs, Chinooks, and Apaches leave operational service unreplaced? And, the SecDef continues to argue with Congress about raising only two more divisions!

I am all for defending America as far forward as possible. For more than $1B/day, we should be doing better. Yet the drumroll of casualties continue. And while our superbly trained and hugely expensive land forces waste away in Iraq, we leave our ramparts undefended (spending only $.11B/day on Dept of Homeland Security) and our hard power options in the rest of the world extremely limited.

I'm glad Saddam is gone. But, Saddam was only a small part of a larger problem. His removal continues to cost much more than it was worth. While our hard power melts in Iraq, AlQaeda continues to plot. So yes Sam, another mass casualty attack in America is likely. But, I will not blame the "Democratic candidates, the shenanigans of, the Democratic Underground, etc.," who represent "a sizeable proportion of the American public that is not yet convinced we are at war with a mortal foe." I will blame the Administration for willfully wasting our strength on their dream rather than seriously using it (and all other elements of national power) to defeat the non-state armed groups that have declared themselves our mortal enemies.

You're probably right on many points, but I think there's another side to this.

Our world-wide efforts against terrorists depend not only on military power, but also on cedibility. We squandered much of our credibility over the last few decades by not backing up our threats and diplomacy with resolute action when needed.

Iraq may be running down our military equipment and the NG, but, just because it is a hugely ambitious and costly (and yes, bloody) project, it is building up a large bank-account of credibility. All our other operations will tend to be safer and cheaper in the future, as we will no longer be perceived as a country that can be bullied or ignored. (Plus we are training whole divisions in 4G warfare--hey, maybe we should keep Iraq as a new NTC...)


You are right. Besides the material issues involved in what we are engaged with in Iraq, there is a CREDIBILITY issue.

There are two aspects on the credibility point that should be examined. First, relates to our hard military power. What we are seeing in Iraq since mid-April is a dwindling in our credibility to handle the military occupation (not liberation) of this country. Yes, we are gaining valuable 4GW training (it will be useful if the Army is able to retain these warriors without stop-loss when they leave Iraq), but we also see a continuation of the insurgency at a level or possibly accelerating rate. To many observers, our military has been unable to stem the insurgent tide, despite it's overwhelming and rapid success last spring. I fear that the credibility of our entire armed forces could be quickly hollowed out (a la 1970s) as a result of a defeat by the locally armed, low-tech, non-professional insurgents we are fighting there today. What would such a loss in hard power credibility gain in terms of US forces worldwide? A growing unease in our commitment to NE Asian security? A desire to ramp up military capability in Japan and Europe? Emboldened adversaries in the Middle East (Syria, Iran)? If the world's greatest Army cannot defeat "dead enders" after defeating Saddam's armies, how can it deter or maker "safer and cheaper" future operations (especially against adversaries who refuse to battle us the way we want them to)? So while our choice to expend military hard power in Iraq may have deposited something into the "willingness to act" credibility bank, it has also resulted in a withdrawal in our "demonstrated capability" credibility bank.

Second, the way we entered into the Iraq conflict (imminent threat, stockpiled WMD, Ba'ath - AlQaeda connection), along with the embarrassing post-bellum revelations about the dubious nature of those claims, has substaintially reduced our strategic credibility throughout the world and, most alarmingly, among our staunchest allies. The US cannot lead the world via hard power alone (although we are spending like we can). It is a balance of hard and soft power (economic, diplomatic, cultural) that keeps the US at the top and in a leadership position among like minded nations. This is something that has been forgotten of late. Forgotten despite the real need to work with those like minded nations to defend ourselves against non-state armed groups like AlQeada. The world was with us on 12 Sep 2001. It was with us when we went into Afghanistan to root out AlQaeda/Taliban and attempt to manage a traditionally ungovernable area (which was a proven threat to our internal security). Those actions banked a lot of credibility for our policies. The action in Iraq withdrew all of those gains and has dug deeply into a 50+ year deposit by disrupting relations with France/Germany (like minded nations), deeply straining ties with Russia and China (not like minded, but certainly with like interests), and even ruined the credibility of our staunchest ally (Blair is in big trouble at home).

Everything has a cost. The tar-baby of Iraq has both material and intangible costs. We are wearing out our hard power at an alarming rate. We continue to waste valuable credibility. And we're marching down a folly filled road to complete isolation from friends. The short term fulfillment of "getting Saddam" (like short term fulfillment of cutting taxes while we are "at war") has diverted us from a long-term engagement against non-state armed engagement that (in Afghanistan alone) could very well need a 10-division strategy (not to mention the Balkans, Phillipines, RoK, and other simmering conflicts).

Besides, we didn't need Iraq for a new NTC....we already had Afghanistan (and the rest of our like minded nation friends were with us)!


Can you please provide a link to the 'article from the Government Executive about Military Depots' you quote above?

Thanks in advance,


If you think France and Germany are "like-minded nations," and that we are in trouble without their help, we are probably too far apart in our underlying assumptions to discuss further.

That's not a criticism; I appreciate your concern and your patriotism...


Some interesting and very thoughtful comments here. Can I pick a nit though?

Ralph Peters did not attend the Industrial War College because there is no such thing. You are thinking of something called the Industrial College of the Armed Forces (ICAF) which is a subordinate institution of the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.

Ralph did not attend that one either.

Has anything [interceptor body armor, HMMWV's] been transfered from troops in Japan/NK to Iraq or Afghanistan?

It seems to me weakening one area slightly to increase strength in two others actively seeing combat would be prudent.


Army CoS, GEN Shinseki was wrong. We don't need new combat divisions. What we need are occupation troops in specialities like Civil Affairs, Military Police, military Counter-Intelligence, and Military Construction Engineering.

See my posts titled:

What One American Soldier Knows, They All Know

"However, as Iraq’s occupation shows, winning in combat isn’t winning the war. The future of the American military is…PARAMILITARY. That means more boots on the ground, not less. The people filling those boots are not going to be combat arms soldiers. Military Police, Civil Affairs, Signals and Construction Engineers, among others, will be the people we have to recruit for the mission.

The only question is about these new paramilitary formations be when do we raise them and what the proportions will be between long service American military professionals, American military reservists, American citizen draftees, foreign sepoys, and locals raised to run their country after we leave."


"US Military -- Back To The Future"

These are the truths we face.

1. We are burning out the National Guard and Army Reserve support troops from repeated deployments. Retention and recruiting for both are crashing.

2. Contracting out nation building to multinational NGO's or corporations like Brown & Root or Dynacorp won't work without a secure environment, something which only American troops can provide.

3. Military allies can't provide long-term security in occupied areas either because their interests and ours are too likely to diverge, though their forces can help immensely during and immediately after a given conquest.

4. If we must deploy large numbers of American occupation troops anyway, which can't be our existing, expensive and limited ground combat specialists who are needed for further operations, we must create a new force structure as cheaply as possible -- AKA draftees -- to provide the staying power we need for long-term nation building."


The article title and link:

Red River's Running

By George Cahlink
While the Army grinds it out in Iraq, its repair depots are struggling to keep up.


Your nits are noted.

What I recall of the name was from when my father went to it in the mid-1970's. The name likely changed over time.

"This was a result of the 1990's base and depot closing. Congressmen did not want federal employment in their districts to be 'privatized' elsewhere."

Actually, the Arsenal Statute (10USC 4532[a]) dates back to the '50's, when all of the unionized arsenals and depots were winding down after WWII and the Korean War. It has been subject of political wrangling forever, as the Army Material Command's major subordinate commands (MSC) would try to steer work "in house" to retain the facilities in the mission. Thus, the "cost comparison" required for make-or-buy was routinely done on an out-of-pocket basis, rather than "fully loaded". Also, the MSC's would tend to place Gov't-Owned, Gov't-Operated (GOGO, that is, true arsenals) plants in the same category as gov't-owned, contractor-operated (GOCO) plants and try to keep them all alive.

The first major issue was after the WW, when there were something like 80 weapons and ammunition arsenals (going on memory here, so don't expect precision) in operation that were suddenly now no longer neeeded. That reduced the active facilities to around 30, roughly 25 GOCOs and 5 or so GOGOs. As the USSR Communist threat collapsed, there was no longer the same excuse to keep even this level operating, but there was still a need to maintain a luke-warm capability of some kind, because Caterpillar, Deere, Ford, & GM simply don't normally keep facilities around that can handle tracks and heavy armor, and high explosives load plants generally don't have a lot of other market demand. Foreign military sales are always a challenge because US gear is high quality, and this far more expenseive than anyone else's (we pay attention to little details like safety, etc.) Thus the base closure commission was needed to de-politicize the arsenal shut-down decisions, but everyone recognized that there could be a problem in the future if mobilization were necessary.

Most everyone hates to keep a "warm base" because, unless you are actively fighting, the stuff you make to keep the line up and capable tends to be wasted. Good for some government unions, perhaps, but everyone else except the Congressman with the place in his or her district hates the idea. Thus we get to spots as we have now.

On the commercial side, just in the mid-'80's we used to have the M1 tank plant in Sterling Heights, the Toledo plant, FMC out in San Jose making M2 and M3 IFV/CFVs, and BMY in York, PA, cranking out M109 howitzers and mods. Now there are at amost 2 sites doing low level rehab work.

It's not an easy problem. Money is always an issue- there are many fine and more politically appealing uses for government cash (such as controlling tax rates if we want a growing economy), both in and out of DoD, and DoD always puts mobilization last on the list, so these things tend to be handled on a "cry wolf" crisis basis. I suspect that this will end up being resolved with a longer lead time than we all would like to see, because the body politic is a bit reluctant to face the reality that Eternal Peace was always an illusion.

Uhh, Serving Patriot, I don't want to make any snide comments about your handle, but the fact that you repeat the "imminent danger" canard doesn't increase my confidence in the rest of what you have to say.

I knew I saw this somewhere. The following are clips from a NY TIMES article from Christmas day:

New York Times
December 25, 2003

Army Steps Up Humvee Orders For Troops In Iraq
By Fara Warner

MISHAWAKA, Ind. - Attacks on Humvees in Iraq are reverberating in this small Indiana town, where a production line is gearing up to sate a growing hunger for these vehicles and to save soldiers' lives.

The military, though, does not want just any Humvees. Too many soldiers have faced machine-gun or grenade attacks in vehicles clad in fiberglass and aluminum, often with fatal consequences. So the Army, realizing that it had not ordered enough armored vehicles, sent out an urgent call for more. The AM General plant here is doing its best to comply.

One recent day, an unfinished dull green vehicle marked M1114 rolled along the production line - a model designed to carry 3,000 pounds of armor, including high-density steel. The result will be what AM General's spokesman, Craig C. Mac Nab, calls a "mobile foxhole."

Such protection has made the $150,000 M1114 - an unarmored Humvee costs less than half that - the most sought-after ride in Iraq. While the exact number of deaths from attacks on unarmored vehicles is not known, estimates range from 30 to 60 of some 200 Americans killed since President Bush declared an end of major combat operations early in May.

Such statistics, along with a barrage of criticism from parents of dead soldiers and members of Congressional delegations visiting Iraq, forced the Army in August to increase more than tenfold its orders for armored Humvees, to 2,957 from 235. It hopes to have 3,500 armored Humvees, including armored vehicles that are already in use in Iraq and Afghanistan, "just as soon as possible," an Army spokesman, Maj. Gary Tallman, said. Now, the Army says, it has 1,500 armored Humvees in Iraq, and more than 12,500 unarmored ones.


But no matter the short- or longer-term reasons, both AM General and O'Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt of Fairfield, Ohio, which does the armoring, are quickly shifting production and reconfiguring their factories to meet the demand.

For AM General, the sole worldwide maker of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle - Humvee's full, official terminology - this means reordering a production line that can already turn out more than 50 versions of the Humvee, including ambulances and missile-carrying models.

The factory now produces 30 vehicles a day, including about 10 of the M1114's. Mr. Mac Nab said that by February the factory, which can turn out more than 50 Humvees a day and could go to overtime or double shifts if necessary, could be making "little else than M1114's."


As for O'Gara-Hess, it has taken significant steps to increase its armoring production to 220 a month from 80 by early in 2004, said John H. Mayles, vice president for military programs at the aerospace and defense group of Armor Holdings, the parent company of O'Gara-Hess.

It has moved all its commercial production, which includes armoring vehicles for movie stars and other celebrities, to a different factory. Its main 135,000-square-foot factory is now devoted to armoring the M1114's trucked in from Indiana - and installing air-conditioning to prevent the interior from turning into a furnace in hot weather.

The armoring helps protect occupants from armor-piercing bullets, mines up to 12 pounds and 155-millimeter artillery blasts overhead, Mr. Mayles said. Some photographs show M1114's with their front ends destroyed, but the cabins that carry soldiers intact.

I remember reading recently about an Army engineering officer that created armor kits for the HMMWV in Iraq and that these kits were being produced more widely due to the lack of M1114's. Does anyone have any more info on these and whether this has been shared with our allies?


Regarding the "ASV Cancellation", are you referring to the Iraqi supplemental appropriations? The mention I found on this source is at

The ASV project is not cancelled. Rather, Congress did not extend the ASV purchase order, which is set to expire by 2005. The LA delegation is lobbying to buy more ASVs beyond 2005 in the 2005 defense appropriations bill.

The article also alluded to the possibility of ASVs replaced by Strykers in the future. Hopefully that will not happen.


As the article at your link mentioned, the original ASV build was for 250 vehicles in the Army M.P. units.

The last ASV article I saw in the US Army Associations 2003-2004 Green book before this article called for at least another 99 ASV. So yes, not renewing production with a second 5-year production contract amounts to a cancellation.

The US Army has a track record of bone headed decisions on its "non-killer" force structure. The Army in 1997 had a major reduction in force of it's reserve M.P. units right in the middle of the Bosnian peace keeping effort.

The San Francisco Bay area for example had two full brigades of Military Police reduced down to two companies, both of which are mobilized and in Iraq. Those two brigades were made up from beat cops in San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco, roughly 10% of all the cops in the bay area. These police specialize in penetrating the various ethnic gangs that populated the diverse Bay area, exactly the skills the Army needs for Iraq.

Now the Army is busy converting two Reserve artillery brigades to the M.P. role.

Had the Army shut down those two Cold War surplus Artillery brigades rather than the two Bay area M.P. brigades, we would be much better off in Iraq today.

There is a money vs. time graph for any industrial project that goes something like this.

There is an optimal point in getting things going where costs are minimized. Try to shorten that time and costs tend to rise exponentially. Lengthen that time and costs also rise but not quite as fast.

That is the rule for commercial companies. Now add in a pile of rules twenty feet high written by lawyers well in advance of any dealings with actual problems but in theory addressing past mistakes, errors, and corruption and you have a system that cannot move very fast.

You might want to read my past article on logistics to get a feel for the problems involved.

The public is interested in battles. The real guys where tthe rubber meets the road are interested in logistics.


I believe the armor kit you mention is for the "2-pak" humvees, the ones that look more like a pick-up than an SUV. The up-armored M1114s only have 5 seats and can't haul significant cargo/ppl, hence the armor kit. Can't find a source for the story. Was it from a network story?

The kit in question is fabricated locally, by a combination of US and Iraqi personnel. Because many coalition partners do not use humvees, the design is of limited utility. In addition, it seemed like an ad hoc effort, and was easy to copy and adapt by any mechanically-inclined person. So the "sharing" of the design, if at all, was probably very informal and horizontal rather than blueprints & schematics.

Serving Patriot,

The actual effect of any battle field move cannot be known for at least 25 or 30 years. In other words it is way too soon for hind sight.

It may be that the fall out from this battle can have tremendous positive ramifications for decades to come.

As you do point out thought what ever hind sight will show we cannot lose our grip on that particular tiger until we can get a bullet in it's brains.

There's a timely and specific post re the effects of all this on the guys in the field at Iraq Now, written by an officer in Ramadi:

I know that we have to have civilian control over the military, but shouldn't the CIC have the ability to override the politics at some point? This is the kind of nonsense that gave rise to the acronym SNAFU.

The Free Republic has a very interesting thread with many links talking about the armored Hummers and alternatives here:

I picked up the following information there:

AM General Corp., South Bend, Ind., was awarded on Nov. 4, 2003, a $39,571,065 modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for 500 M1114 up-armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle expanded capacity vehicle chassis. Work will be performed in South Bend, Ind., and is expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2007. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This was a sole-source contract initiated on July 17, 2000. The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001).

O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt Armoring Co., Fairfield, Ohio, was awarded on Nov. 4, 2003, a $35,675,000 modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for 500 M1114 up-armored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles with gun shields. Work will be performed in Fairfield, Ohio, and is expected to be completed by May 31, 2005. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This was a sole-source contract initiated on April 10, 2000. The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-00-C-S019).

Why is M1114 production so slow?

Why has the gov't not bought up all the Hummer H1's and had them armored and sent the to Iraq? There is a war on. Requisition.

There are many companies that apply armor to vehicles. If O'Gara-Hess cannot meet the demand, why does the Army not contract with these other armoring companies?

Why has the Armored Security Vehicle made by Textron been terminated?

Textron also makes the Dingo Mine Resistant Vehicle. Why has the Army bought none?

The Swiss company MOWAG makes the Eagle armored HMMWV. Have we tried to buy from them? If not, why not?

The Turks make a HMMWV-based armored vehicle called the Cobra. Have we tried to get any?

The old Iraqi Army and Republican Guard had several thousand wheeled armored vehicles. Where are they now and what use is being made of them?

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