Reeder, just checking here. You’re not objecting to unarmed civilian engineers and civilians being adequately protected, right? Just saying that their military escorts should have equal protection, correct?
Well, I think I can at least explain the Halliburton thing.
The new armor in question was developed by a company called Simula.
Simula was just bought out by a larger military contractor called Armor Holdings.
Armor Holdings in turn has a very close relationship with a Johannesburg-based company called Erinys.
According to this article and their own profiles, both of them worked for Armor Holdings.
And guess who just subcontracted Erinys to train 6,500 troops to guard the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline in northern Iraq? That’s right. Bechtel/KBR/Halliburton. But please, try to forget the conspiracy shit for a minute.
Here’s the part I can’t cite well, but I stress that this is the most important part of this post. Armor Holdings will get their asses set aflame if they’re diverting that armor away from American troops, but the chances are the real fuck-up is in the Army/Marine procurement process.
I calculate that if prices haven’t changed, that’s an order for only 34,375 units.
Simula may have met the insufficient procurement contracts early last year and will do it again this year. So my guess is that’s why the Erinys people and their Iraqi students are going to get their shit before some of our boys do.
I don’t want to defend this. I do agree that our troops should have the best available protection. But, a large part of the problem is that current procurement procedures have a several year cycle between recognition of a new product being available, and actually getting an appropriation for that equipment.
During the first Gulf War, the equipment that was home supplied had been GPS locators. At that time the DoD was looking into getting GPS locators for the troops, but they were insisting that MILSPEC standards be met, which meant that the purchase price for a unit that did the same as the civilian units would be approximately 10X the cost, and another 8-12 months for development.
The other reason that Haliburton may have better protection for their people is that for the US military most large pieces of equipment have a 10 year, or longer, design lifetime. So, replacing the HMMV’s of an older mark is up to 10 years down the road. Getting the capitol into the Defense budget to upgrade the HMMV’s would be a major fight in Congress.
Please, understand, I’m not trying to defend the situation on the ground. Just explaining that it may be the result of several converging factors, not simply a lack of concern for the troops. (Which doesn’t excuse the lack of concern for the troops. But at least half of that fault lies with Congress, IMNSHO.)
It’s possible that it is, as you suggest, just a coincidental convergence of factors.
It’s also possible that Halliburton, having a cost-plus contract with no ceiling, just spends whatever it wants to. Not only do they get to have the latest gear, the more they spend, the more profit they make.
One of the two scenarios above is much more likely than the other.
You certainly can buy yourself a Interceptor vest, but I don’t know if they have 'em at Ebay. Those are about as good as they get, depending on the added plates that you get. Those are also what the DoD is getting, just not fast enough.
I didn’t mean to imply that Haliburton isn’t spending money like water, or that Haliburton isn’t abusing their contracts.
I think there are two different situations here. What the troops are being issued, and on a different subject what Haliburton is making available to their own workers. Whatever you may feel about Haliburton, the company does have a moral obligation to protect its workers to the best of its ability. So, I really have little objection to their issuing top line gear to their people. What I object to is the idea that the gear that our troops have is so much poorer in comparison.
Remember, Halliburton’s employees are, in effect, volunteers. Without what is (in their minds) sufficient protection they can quit and go home where it’s safe. If Halliburton wants to maintain those contracts they have to bust ass providing security.
The same does not apply to members of the military. They can complain all they want they’re still going out there. There’s no choice for them.
If members of the military could quit on no notice you’d see a MUCH more response military bureaucracy.
And, let’s not forget that a great many of our congressional leaders view the DoD budget as a personal piggy bank for spending for their district, whether such spending is wanted by the military planners, or not. As an example (Just one I recalled from my time as active duty.) in the early 1990’s the Navy tried to decommission the carrier JFK, only to have the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation force it to refurb the ship, AND do all the work at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, a facility that the Navy felt was a logical place to cut costs. This was I think two billion dollars of unwanted spending appended to the military budget, just to keep jobs going in this one district. And usually such ‘additions’ to the DoD budget aren’t simply added to the requests that the military proposes for their budgets but a result of cutting ‘unimportant’ things here and there. Like Airman Doors said, military procurement processes are a joke, IMNSHO, not about getting the best price, or equipment, but about Congressional control of a large budget.