Do you need a new ride? Of course you do. How about this little baby? It’s a 2007 model, but barely left the garage. Certainly never been to an active combat zone. We’ve got a mess of them and they are yours for the ultra-low price of nothing. Nada. Zilch. No dollars down, no dollars later. In a government shutdown special, Landmines in Africa brings you Uncle Sam’s Hooptie Giveaway.
And just what is your US government giving away? 20-ton, $600,000 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Free of charge to law enforcement agencies. With the winding down of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has a surplus of MRAP vehicles that it needs to dispose of and rather than sell them or scrap them, the Defense Logistics Agency has been offering them to local law enforcement agencies. These are vehicles that can withstand machine-gun fire, improvised explosive devices and anti-tank landmines. So who’s taking them? Perhaps the big cities, like New York or Los Angeles? Cities with high rates of violent crime like Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans or Oakland? Maybe the nation’s capitol Washington, DC with its high profile and many soft targets? No, no and no. Try Murfreesboro, Tennessee; Baker County, Oregon; Watertown, New York; Madison, Indiana; Wenatchee, Washington; Dallas, Texas; and my favorite: the Ohio State University. I am not making this up. See for yourself:
Watertown, New York (which will paint theirs black, like the Batmobile)
It’s worth pointing out that almost every one of these articles includes a like this one (from the Dallas report): “Why in holy hell does Dallas County need an armored military vehicle built to withstand a minor apocalypse?”
The response from the police is invariably one of the following:
- It was free;
- It will be used to serve warrants on people who might not be receptive to a warrant.
That said, the boys of Madison, Indiana had expected a Humvee and not an MRAP so I don’t think these law enforcement agencies are deliberately seeking out MRAPs. This is just what they can get as part of the government’s giveaway for counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities; referred to the “1033 Program” for the National Defense Authorization Acts that authorized transfer of excess military hardware to law enforcement.
In addition to crime-fighting, MRAPs might be useful in disaster situations since they can maneuver in water up to three-feet deep. However, MRAPs can’t cross many rural bridges due to their weight and they will break low-hanging powerlines. Despite their all-wheel drive, their massive weight makes them difficult to use on dirt or mud roads and early models (such as those that are being offered to the county sheriffs of America) are likely to roll over due to high centers of gravity.
So let’s be honest. These vehicles will be used for show and not in any actual crime-fighting activities. Probably Ohio State will allow the coach and quarterback to ride on the back during the victory parade should they win another football championship. Otherwise, I would expect to see them lined up at the county fairs alongside Monster Trucks and vintage cars.
Michael P. Moore
October 1, 2013