Last September, the US Army shipped 80 MRAPs from Kuwait to the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea so the unit could begin a six-month evaluation of how the hulking vehicles might be integrated into the brigade combat teams there.
Turns out, not so well.
Stars & Stripes reported this morning that the 2nd ID is sending those trucks right back, since the vehicles are “not suitable for maneuver battalions to use” on the Korean Peninsula, according to what a spokesman for the unit told the paper.
The only problem is, no one seems to know where those 80 MaxxPro MRAPs are going. Defense News has been asking around the US Army Pacific and the 2nd ID, but given the time difference and the unfortunate fact that this is a Furlough Friday—which means that the business of the DoD will grind to a halt until Tuesday—we haven’t heard anything back.
But considering that the Army has about $40 million in fully upgraded and functional MRAPs gathering rust in South Korea, one would think that they’re formulating a plan.
The MRAP has been causing the Army problems as the United States begins its withdrawal from Afghanistan and the service is trying to formulate an equipping strategy for the postwar years. The Army has already decided that it will literally scrap 2,000 of the 11,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan, while bringing the remaining 9,000 home, or to a staging area elsewhere in the world.
It was thought that South Korea would be a good parking spot for some of those vehicles, but apparently the 2nd ID think s differently.
In May, Army chief Gen. Ray Odierno hold Congress that the service is formulating plans to scrap 13,000 of its 21,000 MRAPs, keeping 4,000 in operational units and mothballing another 4,000 in case of future contingencies.
But as the failed Korean experiment shows, the MRAP is a tough fit in for operations outside of the Iraq theater.
After rapidly spending $50 billion to purchase more than 20,000 MRAPs between 2007 and 2012 to protect troops against roadside bombs, the Pentagon is now burdened with a fleet of heavy, difficult to transport vehicles that are great against IEDs, but not much else.