Magazine article National Defense

Heavy Duty

Magazine article National Defense

Heavy Duty

Article excerpt

Marines: MRAP impedes operations

The Marine Corps and the Army have decided to curtail THeir orders for mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, ostensibly because they foresee fewer roadside bomb attacks in Iraq. But there are other reasons, such as the impracticality of operating these vehicles off-road and in urban areas. A Marine Corps official says the 60,000 to 80,000-pound vehicles create significant logistics impediments that would make them hard to deploy, not just to Iraq, but to almost any other war zone.

"Seventy-two percent of the world's bridges cannot hold the MRAP," says Brig. Gen. Ronald Johnson, assistant deputy commander for plans, policies and operations.

Transporting the vehicles to combat zones also is tough for Marines because the trucks cannot fit aboard the amphibious ships that carry Marine equipment and supplies. "You can't put an MRAP on a maritime pre-positioning force ship," Johnson says.

Sea Duty for Combat Hardened Marines

* Marine officers who joined the Corps during the past five years are unlikely to have set foot aboard a ship. That bothers tile commandant, Gen. James Conway. "They've been to Iraq two or three times in most instances but, in some cases, now are leaving us never having stepped aboard a ship," he lamented.

To remedy the situation, the Corps is sending young officers to Basic School Landing Exercise, where they go aboard a ship or two, spend two or three days at sea, then return to Camp Lejeune, N. C, where they are taught how to conduct an amphibious landing. But Conway acknowledged that until Marines are out of Iraq, it will be unrealistic for any unit to spend much time at sea.

Intelligence Assets, Not Surprisingly, in Short Supply

* When they come to Washington once a year, the four-star U.S. military commanders who oversee every region of the world get to present their wish-lists to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and civilian officials at the Pentagon. Inevitably every year, they ask for better intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. The 2007 meeting in November was no exception, said Army Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, director of operations on the Joint Staff "That's always a big part of this," he told reporters. They want more ISR "so that they are aware of what's going on in their region."

Improved intelligence tools are needed everywhere, but especially in Afghanistan. …

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