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Another Casualty of the Surge

MRAP madness dies down.

11:00 PM, Dec 11, 2007 • By CHRISTIAN LOWE
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But since arguments against the surge are harder to come by these days, the services are taking the first steps in slowing the MRAP freight train. Late last month, the Marine Corps announced it would cut 1,300 vehicles from its order, saving the Pentagon $1.7 billion and removing the logistical headache of moving the weighty vehicles to the field and trying to find something to do with them.

"What's happened since September of 2006 has been absolutely amazing by most counts. We have not lost nearly the numbers of vehicles that we were experiencing because attacks have gone down dramatically," said Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway at a Pentagon press conference a few days ago. "And I will say that in incorporating greater use of the vehicles, we found that especially the heavy variants don't give us the combat flexibility that a smaller, lighter vehicle does. And commanders in the field have said off-road, you know, it's just a little problematic in places."

"That we could save the government $1.7 billion with a decision, that would have us scratching our head about what we're going to do with this excess number of vehicles then in five years," Conway added, "seems to me, it's all win-win."

And now, apparently, Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the number two commander in Iraq, is questioning whether his service needs its 10,000 MRAP order (down from 17,000 earlier this year). He told USA Today this week that with the success of the surge and the increase in tips and other intel on IEDs, the need for MRAPs has waned.

He's going to chat with his commanders in the field to see what they need at this point, a realistic reaction to a changing security environment that many MRAP backers on Capitol Hill refused to believe possible.

And for now, Congress hasn't whimpered that its sage military advice is being ignored.

"Those [in Congress] that we contacted who, again, were our supporters, sort of nodded and said, 'well, it made sense.' Another one said, 'well, I always thought we were buying too many.' Another said, 'you know, if you don't need it, why would you spend $1.7 billion of taxpayer money to go ahead and make the purchase?'" Conway recalled. "So at least at this point, we haven't heard anything negative coming out of the Congress."

Christian Lowe is managing editor of and is a contributing writer to THE DAILY STANDARD.