Hundreds of U.S. Marines have been killed or injured
by roadside bombs in Iraq because Marine Corps bureaucrats refused an
urgent request in 2005 from battlefield commanders for blast-resistant
vehicles, an internal military study concludes.
The study, written by a civilian Marine Corps
official and obtained by The Associated Press, accuses the service of
"gross mismanagement" that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant,
ambush-protected trucks for more than two years.
Cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down
the request for the so-called MRAPs, according to the study. Stateside
authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which can cost as much as a $1
million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing
lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded.
After Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared the MRAP
(pronounced M-rap) the Pentagon's No. 1 acquisition priority in May
2007, the trucks began to be shipped to Iraq in large quantities.