The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

December 29, 2013

From MRAP to scrap: U.S. military chops up $1 million vehicles

(Continued)

MRAPs in good working condition are being offered for sale as-is to approved U.S. military allies. But they are not being offered to Afghan security forces because the Pentagon has concluded that they contain too much sophisticated computer technology for the still-developing Afghan military to operate. Maintenance of the vehicles is also too difficult for Afghan soldiers, more than half of whom are illiterate.

Afghan troops are not known for their dedication to maintaining equipment; they prefer to run vehicles rough and hard until they break down.

There are few Afghan mechanics fully trained to repair relatively simple Humvees, Afghan commanders complain, much less a computer-dependent colossus like the MRAP.

The fire sale has attracted about 380 orders from partner nations so far, Wright said. But with 13,000 excess MRAPs available worldwide, it’s not likely that all those in Afghanistan will be sold. It’s an “as is, where is” deal, Wright said, meaning buyers must also pay the cost of shipping MRAPs out of Afghanistan.

Instead of MRAPs, Afghan forces are receiving armored MSFVs — mobile strike force vehicles — equipped, in military jargon, with an “enhanced survivability package,” at a total cost of $887 million. The vehicles have “innovative protection design features to achieve MRAP level of blast protection,” Wright said.

The Afghan military is also getting leftover American pickups, modular housing and portable toilets, not to mention military bases built with U.S. taxpayer dollars.

Lt. Gen. William Faulkner, the Marine Corp’s deputy commandant, said in a speech in April that the military has too many of the hulking MRAPs.

“The bottom line is, we don’t need them,” Faulkner said. But he’d rather see an MRAP go to a partner nation than for the U.S. to “actually cut it up into razor blades.”

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