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ICG Risk Blog - [ Conventional war and other mentalities overlooked the armored Humvee ]

Conventional war and other mentalities overlooked the armored Humvee

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The Humvee and the A-10 Warthog, among other platforms, share great similarities: both unloved, beneath the radar of those envisioning grand engagements, lacking what we call a "high science-fiction coefficient" of embedded technology, almost never manufactured, and both nearly dropped from production and AF inventory.

The A-10 came to be recognized as a highly survivable "life-support system" for a remarkable 30 MM gun in which every "ugly," non-supersonic element was designed to keep pilot and gun intact over the kill box. It's design critical path is superb.

The Humvee is, I think, becoming the "mobile foxhole" and CP (command post) for mechanized infantry, especially in an urban setting. Its capacity, speed, traverse and ground clearance are fine but it has been thrust into the role of an armored car without the armor. The vehicle can carry substantial ordnance but if the bad guy gets off the first shot, it is imperiled.

Cold-War Thinking Prevented Vital Vehicle From Reaching Iraq describes a planning world in which massed tank battles in the central German plains held sway (along with the service ego of having the best toys and the manufacturers desire to provide them) had no place for an armored Humvee whereas 'low level' guerilla conflicts demand it. Now we see on-the-spot ingenuity of the GIs ad hoc armoring their 'personal transports,' much like GIs did in earlier wars (e.g., the hedgerow penetrators that allows tanks to go through a hedgerow, keeping the muzzle on the Germans, rather than going over it and exposing the tanks soft underbelly, and the decapitation deflectors on the front of a jeep that cut wires strung trails before they reached the occupants).

At the time, attention was devoted to the Army's Future Combat System, "which officials say will replace the 70-ton battle tank and should be able to do everything from high-end combat to peacekeeping. The system, which the Army hopes to field starting around 2010, will depend on unmanned surveillance planes, robotic sensors and human scouts to determine the enemy's whereabouts. Computers linked by wireless modems will then disseminate the data to troops -- who will spread out over the battlefield and attack simultaneously from several directions before the enemy can even get off a shot. Instead of armor, these new units will rely on better intelligence, munitions and speed to survive."

The armored Humvee, by contrast, was insignificant, yet the current production armored versions are performing well against most Iraqi threats.

Gordon Housworth



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