Leaked report details failure to get armored vehicles to Marines in Iraq

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The report featured in USA Today.

When Marines in Iraq urgently asked for armored vehicles particularly resistant to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in 2005, what they got from the Marine Corps instead was delays, according to a full, unredacted copy of a Department of Defense Inspector General report PaperTrail has obtained.

The December 8 report, marked Official Use Only, found that providing armored Humvees took precedence and that the Marine Corps “stopped processing” the request for more than 1,000 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs). MRAPs are particularly resistant to IEDs because of their V-shaped hulls that disperse explosions.

Along with the delays in providing MRAPs, the IG found an equally troubling breakdown by Pentagon brass – the failure to anticipate the use of IEDs by Iraqi insurgents. “DOD was aware of the threat posed by mines and improvised explosive devices in low-intensity conflicts and of the availability of mine-resistant vehicles years before insurgent actions began in Iraq in 2003,” the report states. “The department entered into operations in Iraq without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines.”

The report’s title is a mouthful – Marine Corps Implementation of the Urgent Universal Needs Process for Mine Resistant Ambush Protect Vehicles – but it addresses one of the most pressing needs of the Iraq war. From the beginning of the conflict in March 2003 through November 1, 2008, 2,145 troops were killed and nearly 21,000 troops were wounded by IEDs and other types of explosive devices in Iraq .

In May 2007, after reports of the delays in procuring large numbers of MRAPs began to emerge in the press, Defense Secretary Robert Gates made it the department's top acquisition priority.

Adam Miles of the nonprofit Government Accountability Project, which is representing Marine Corps whistleblower Franz Gayl, said he believes there should be congressional hearings into the issue. “The report says how there was a delay, but doesn't explain why,” Miles said. Gayl, the science and technology adviser in the Marine Corps' plans, policies, and operations department, helped spark the investigation with his complaints.

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