The Army You Have…

On December 8, 2004 US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was visiting Camp Buehring Kuwait. The 2003 invasion of Iraq had been going on for almost a year and there was a problem. The actual war had been won as the Iraqi military was defeated and rendered useless as a cohesive force. However that did not mean that the Iraqis were done fighting.

Using guerrilla and insurgent tactics the opposition forces were proving to be more than a thorn in the side of the occupation forces.  Roadside bombs (IEDs), RPG teams and snipers made even carrying out every day duties deadly for the American forces. What was not helping was the fact that their primary vehicles, from the ubiquitous Humvee to the LMTV trucks were sorely under armored for this kind of warfare. So much so that troops began covering their vehicles in improvised armor whenever possible. This armor was made up of scrap metal, spent ballistic glass, Kevlar vests and even sandbags. Anything that would add to their protection.

As Rumsfeld was talking to the troops that day a soldier asked him a question:

“Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles? And why don’t we have those resources readily available to us?”

Rumsfeld answered:

“It isn’t a matter of money. It isn’t a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It’s a matter of production and capability of doing it. As you know, ah, you go to war with the army you have — not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time. You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and (still) be blown up…”

An uproar occurred based on these words as ¬†many started to question the government’s commitment to their troops safety. President Bush spoke out on the subject and the contractor that provided armored Humvees was asked to increase its production. In the mean time actual Up Armor kits were developed and sold to the military to try to increase the protection. Sometimes civilian organizations would even purchase these kits and send them to the front lines.

The picture above shows a panel up Up Armor that would be bolted onto the Humvee for an extra layer of protection.