Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., has for several months been asking Pentagon officials to explain why they can’t deploy mine-resistant vehicles to Iraq fast enough. “How is it possible that with more than 130,000 Americans in danger, with roadside bombs destroying … lives and limbs, we were so slow to act to protect our troops?” Biden asked in a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
Defense officials have cited industrial capacity issues and steel availability as impediments to increasing production. But according to industry insiders, the reason why MRAP production cannot be rapidly accelerated is that vehicles have to comply with a standard design, or “technical data package” that would ensure some degree of commonality across the fleet. Not many companies are able to do that. Biden is said to be trying to convince the Marine Corps and the Army that they should acquire other mine-resistant vehicles that were not selected by the MRAP program but have proven that they can do the job.