Line Dancing in a Minefield We used to call them land mines but they are now called IED’s, Improvised Explosive Devices. Yet they are still the same, an explosive charge planted in the ground to blow the feet and legs off infantry or to destroy vehicles. And we have condemned tens of thousands of soldiers to death, and maiming, in Iraq and Afghanistan. All this bloodshed thanks to the terminal stupidity and monumental fecklessness of the ICB’s (Idiot Civilian Bureaucrats, far more dangerous than an IED). These ICB’s are entrenched in the Department of Defense, they bloat the bureaucracy in order to preserve their own jobs.
We used to have, beginning in 1942, armored vehicles for transporting infantry. This culminated in the M-113 family of armored personnel carriers. The M-113 was a full track laying, fully armored vehicle. But some ICB decided that the M-113 was obsolete and in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, we scrapped almost all of them. They should have been “mothballed”.
Then we go to Iraq and Afghanistan. Leave aside the mistake of waging a theatre of war on an air-bridge, rather than a sea-bridge or a land-bridge. The M-113, with its aluminum armor, was air transportable. But instead of air lifting in M-113’s, we sent in our soldiers on foot. A leather boot is no protection from an IED. The carnage resulting from these poor decisions is indescribable. An example is the Marine, with no legs, who appears on FOX News, Johnny Joey Johnson. If they had been mounted in M-113’s, the IED would have been a noise, and Johnson would still have his legs.
In order to provide better mobility than boots, the ICB’s brought in HUMMV’s. And when those provided no protection, the ICB’s sent in up-armor kits. News Flash – you cannot up-armor a HUMMV because it is a Uni-Body vehicle. That means there is no frame, it is all stamped sheet metal. With this design, there is nothing to hold the armored doors and panels in place. When the Uni-body hits an IED, it folds up into a dodecahedron and the occupants are dead or maimed.
For heavy trucks, we did even worse. The ICB’s adopted all the truck designs from Europe. These trucks have the driver’s seat above the front axle, with the leg and pedal part of the cab coming down in front of the front axle. Leaving aside the harsh ride and the hemorrhoids for the driver, this reason for this design is only for short turning radius on the narrower streets of Europe. It has nothing to do with the global reach of the USA.
So, the ICB’s issue these lousy trucks and put a couple add-on armor plates on them. And when the IED detonates under the front axle, the blast propels the add-on armor plate like a missile and it amputates the driver’s legs at the knee, just like a surgeon. There are even Wounded Warrior advertisements which describe exactly this issue.
The only way to up-armor this design of truck is to throw away the sheet metal cab, mount a welded steel, double octahedron cab, in the center, between the frame rails, with only one driver. When the IED detonates, the wheel station goes into orbit and the driver is unscathed. How do I know that this design change works?; I wrote the After Action Report, which, by the way, has been purged by the ICB’s.
Even better would have been to keep the old M-35 Deuce-and-aHalf series and the old M-54 Five Ton series. Fancy, no; but they got the job done and they can be easily up-armored. These trucks had an incredibly stout frame and the cab is far behind the front axle. An IED that kills or maims everybody in a European design cab, is just a loud noise in an up-armored M-35. It is true that these older trucks do have a larger turning radius and we would occasionally knock down a street sign in Europe. But, compared to the life of an American soldier, I just do not care about a street sign on Schnitzel Strasse in Germany (with my apologies to all my many German friends, and I also really like schnitzel).
I wish that the scrapping the M-113 family, the sending in of American soldiers with only their leather boots, and the adoption (and attempt to up-armor) unibody vehicles, were indictable offenses. Every ICB would be convicted. Alas, I fear the carnage will never stop. The ICB’s are here to stay.