This isn't really going back on my promise to stay away from the subject of Iraq. Well, okay, it touches on the damn place, but it's more about our country and the way we've chosen to do business when that business is war.
First, as shown by the picture at the top, you can understand why the U.S. Army and USMC want a tactical vehicle that is better at surviving land mine detonations than the standard HMMWV (the "hummer" of suburban dad wet-dreams). Most of our casualties in the past three "wars" (Vietnam, Somalia and Afghanistan/Iraq) have been from mines and booby-traps.
(As an aside - I can't abide the latest buzz-word for these things, "IED's". Something planted in the ground or up a dead donkey's butt that blows up when you walk or drive by is a mine. OR a booby-trap. Always was, always will be. See, that wasn't hard, was it?)
Anyway, the USMC has already put in a request for something like 500 of these things, to be designed and built by an as-yet undesignated maker on an as-yet undetermined design.
However, based on the slide to the left, it looks like they want something like the huge, spendy Cougar or Buffalo Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles already chauffeuring Dick Cheney and his ilk around in theatre.
Well, that's real special.
the only problem I have with that is that, once again, the U.S. Department
of Defense is reinventing the freaking wheel. Because, y'see, once upon a time there was another army that fought a long, ugly, inconclusive war in the desert against an elusive enemy that specialized in mines and boody-traps.
That army is now the South African National Defence Force. And that already have an off-the-shelf MRAP, the Mamba, which as you can see looks like a regular Land-rover, has mostly off-the-shelf Unimog parts and would be probably half as spendy as this new, sexy MRAP that AM General or whoever will wind up making.
But I suspect that there's no jobs for any Congresscritters, or any money to be made for high-rolling political contributors or big defense contractors in buying Mambas from South Africa. So you and I will pay for the new monsters that will roll off the production line just in time...for the NEXT desert adventure..?