The MRAP case. As early as December 2003, a need was seen for heavier vehicles than the Humvee in Iraq (MRAPs) that could withstand and deflect IED blasts. Rumsfeld’s emphasis on force transformation and lighter, faster vehicles; his punitive and dictatorial management style; the Pentagon’s institutional slowness; the usual pitfalls with contracting, generals unwilling to risk their careers by disagreeing with Rumsfeld; the Pentagon’s year in year out insistence that troop levels would soon be reduced, all these things delayed MRAPs being made a priority for 3 1/2 years (until May 2007 when Secretary Gates made it one). It is estimated that since December 2003 when the need was first noted about 30% of US combat deaths in Iraq have come from the lack of such vehicles.
A January 22, 2008 study by Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine Corps adviser who sought whistleblower protection in 2007, reinforced the points made above and noted that hundreds of combat deaths could have been avoided in Iraq if MRAPs had been made a higher priority and shipped to Iraq earlier. He cited cost, bureaucratic bungling, and a mindset that assigned greater importance to Rumsfeld’s goal of force transformation to lighter, faster vehicles than to what would save lives in Iraq. Gayl’s report became public on February 15. On February 20, the Marine Corps asked the DOD’s tame Inspector General to look into the matter, and on February 26, the Corps told Gayl to stop working on his report. There is nothing like rewarding a job well done, now is there?