Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Insubordinate Truckers: Times Begins to Lay it on Thick 
It turns out that the fuel trucks weren't armored yet.
No surprise. No matter how much armor you stick on a fuel truck, it's still a fuel truck.

The fact that the trucks were not armored would not and should not in and of itself warrant a combat refusal.

Nobody ever has every single little thing they want to have when they go into battle. No unit ever hit the combat zone with a perfect equipment situation.

But we were installing Armox armor onto our vehicles last December. Before then, you know what "armoring the vehicles" meant? It meant tying unused flak jackets to the rails and draping them over the doors.

That's it.

We did a lot of convoys with canvas doors. And no doors. In Ramadi.

So I'm not too impressed with the "lack of armor" defense.

Nor am I impressed with the army's inability to armor these trucks, though, a full nine months after my own Guard unit had completed installation on our vehicles Which took about a week. And we left our Armox kits in Kuwait for installation on follow-on vehicles from OIF II. It may be that no standard ARMOX kit is available for this version.

There's a lot more to this story than the armor, though. We'll see what comes out. The maintenance situation, and the apparent failure of the command to support this unit with security or commo gear is what interests me the most.

Trucking companies have very limited communications gear of their own. They are usually sliced out to support maneuver units for their missions.

In our case, we would usually gain a platoon of trucks to support the battalion, with maybe a 2LT platoon leader or an E-6 or E-7 platoon sergeant. And his drivers and their trucks.

And that's it.

It was the gaining unit's responsibility to provide armed escorts, to plan and resource casualty evacuation, and to ensure that reasonable commo assets were included on every convoy.

Again, though, the integration of Guard units into the Class IX (spare parts) system was so bad we couldn't support trans unit's 5 ton trucks. They had to be towed to a totally separate facility to get worked on, which forced us to run extra convoys and take more risks. (Tip: Where possible, a substantial slice of truckers should come with an additional slice mechanic and some basic spare parts and tools. That way, the gaining unit can order the parts and mechanics can crosstrain each other on the different vehicles. And simple repairs can be done forward, decreasing turnaround time on the repair and keeping trucks on the road.)

Questions to answer:

Did the gaining or supported command do its job?

Was this a chronic failure to resource for force protection, medevac, or even basic communications?

Did the gaining unit follow through on maintenance requests?

Had they been enforcing proper PMCS all year?

Is the issue with lack of parts? Or problems identifying deadline faults in order to order parts in the first place?

The Times is playing it up like these guys are martyrs. Of course, that's the kind of story you get if you're relying so much in quoting their parents.

The jury's still out.

Splash, out


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