It took a hard hitting question to be asked by our soldies – followed by an eruption of cheers – and press releases by two private companies, to shame our government into paying for increased production of armor for our troops.
After the soldier asked Rumsfield about why the soldiers had to dig through the trash for scrap metal and broken glass to help protect themselves, the companies that build trucks for the Military as well as the company that reinforces these trucks said that they could both increase output with no problem at all. Today, the Army revealed that they just made an agreement with producers to increase output.
Article archived here.Armored Humvee production to increase in next few months
Saturday, December 11, 2004
John J. Lumpkin
Washington- The Army entered negotiations with an armor manufacturer Friday to try to accelerate production and delivery of armored versions of the Humvee, Army and company officials said.
Army Secretary Francis Harvey spoke with officials at Armor Holdings, Inc., based in Jacksonville, Fla., who told him Friday they could increase production by up to 100 vehicles a month.
Army officials had previously believed the factory was working at capacity until the company told the news media Thursday that it could make more. Democrats immediately criticized the Bush administration for not boosting production sooner.
Still, company officials said the Armor Holdings plant was not immediately capable of boosting output. Armor Holdings said in a statement Friday that it could increase production by February or March.
The Army has ordered 8,105 of the armored Humvees, and 5,910 are in Iraq, Afghanistan and nearby countries. Armor Holdings is already producing 450 a month, meaning the order would be finished sometime in the early spring. Any increased production by the company before then would accelerate the completion of the order.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, responding to a soldier’s complaint about not having enough armored vehicles for the troops, said Wednesday the Army was working to produce more armored vehicles, but it was “a matter of physics, not a matter of money,” suggesting that production lines were operating at capacity.
But Armor Holdings spokesman Michael Fox said Thursday that the company recently completed an analysis after the Marines inquired about buying 50 to 100 armored vehicles each month.
“We determined it was doable,” Fox said.
Armor Holdings said it expected to produce about 4,000 armored vehicles this year, compared with 500 in 2001, 600 in 2002, and 850 in 2003.
Cost of the armored Humvees is about $150,000 each.
Production has to be coordinated with AMC General LLC of South Bend, Ind., which produces the trucks used to make the armored Humvees.
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who continually decried the lack of equipment during his unsuccessful presidential campaign, on Friday called on Rumsfeld to investigate.
Several companies that manufacture protective equipment have indicated they can significantly boost production, Kerry said in a letter to Rumsfeld.
The soldier’s question to Rumsfeld, at a town-hall meeting in Kuwait this week, has led critics to ask why the Pentagon has been unable to send enough armored equipment 21 months into the war. They said war planners had too rosy a picture of how long the campaign would last and didn’t think so many troops and so much armor would be needed for so long.
“This is about faulty analysis and a failed strategy,” said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat who sits on the House Armed Services Committee. “We’ve never had enough troops on the ground since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government to deal with the insurgency because we didn’t expect one.”
© 2004 The Plain Dealer. Used with permission.