With no sign of the Iraq insurgency’s ending soon, the Army has again raised its goal for replacing regular Humvee utility vehicles in Iraq with armored Humvees, the Army’s top civilian official said Friday.
The extra protection is needed to shield soldiers from the insurgents’ weapon of choice, the roadside bomb, as well as other small arms that soldiers are vulnerable to in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq.
Les Brownlee, the acting secretary of the Army, said in an Associated Press interview that the Army recently doubled its requirement for “up-armored” Humvees in Iraq from 4,000 to 8,000.
Climate of violence
A Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, meanwhile, told reporters Friday after visiting U.S. troops in Iraq that he expects the insurgency to continue for some time.
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a conference call from Kuwait that the “climate of violence” in Iraq has increased.
“It’s hard to determine whether that’s the last gasp or building momentum, but the incidents are up,” he said, adding that it seems the insurgents have the will to continue fighting despite getting routed in Fallujah.
“My sense is there’s still a lot of fight left in the insurgents,” Reed said. “There are plenty of resources in terms of financial resources flowing to them.”
Ramping up production
Brownlee said that at the current production rate of 450 a month he believed the Army could meet the goal of having 8,000 armored Humvees in Iraq by March 2005. He did not say how many already are there, but he said the goal of 4,000 was met in September.
In May 2003, after the fall of Baghdad but before it was clear to U.S. officials that an insurgency was developing, the Army had 235 armored Humvees in the country and they were being produced at a rate of 15 per month, Brownlee said. By September the requirement was raised to 1,000.
Brownlee said the Army also is adding armor to its truck fleet because soldiers in supply convoys are often attacked by insurgents. He said this was an illustration of how much more deadly the insurgency has proven to be than anyone in Washington believed possible in 2003.
“No one ever anticipated we’d be up-armoring our truck fleet,” he said. “Nobody anticipated that we’d have to do that.”