Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bittersweet Iraq Success Story

The good news is that roadside bomb fatalities this month are down by almost 90 percent from the last year, largely as a result of almost 7,000 heavily armored Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles being rushed to Iraq since then.

The sad news is that four months ago members of Congress were seeking whistle-blower protection for a Pentagon analyst who claimed that hundreds of lives could have been saved if military paper pushers hadn't obstructed delivery of those vehicles three years earlier.

In February, a former Marine official named Franz J. Gayl went public with a report accusing the Corps of "gross mismanagement" in delaying deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years because MRAPs, which cost $1 million each, were a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years away from being fielded.

Hundreds of lives were lost, Gayl asserted, as requests of field commanders were buried in bureaucratic paperwork until Defense Secretary Robert Gates made them the No. 1 priority in 2007 after he replaced Donald Rumsfeld.

Gayl's revelations were greeted with Marine Corps denials. quibbles and promises of investigation.

Sens. Ted Kennedy and Claire McCaskill wrote Commandant James Conway that he seemed more focused on whether Gayl overstepped his authority than protecting him from retribution:

"Your statement today that the Marines Corps is investigating whether Mr. Gayl 'has done something other than what his leadership and his bosses have instructed him to do' clearly implies that the Marine Corps may be proceeding inappropriately to punish Mr. Gayl for his actions."

Two months later, Secretary Gates was telling USA Today: "The reaction of the troops in the field has been extraordinary...I had a wounded warrior who was here for a lunch a couple of weeks ago who was going around telling anybody who looked like they were in a position of authority that an MRAP had saved his life."

What happened to Franz J. Gayl? Google sayeth not, but lives and limbs are being saved in Iraq, at least in some measure because he spoke out. Many Marines and their families must feel differently about him than the top brass.


Unknown said...

A fitting tribute to the efforts of Franz Gayl. However there are some additional issues which may call the conduct of the marines into further question regarding the MRAP program. Mr. Gayl might might be able to provide guidance and clarification on these issues. Can anyone advise how to contact him?

Les Burk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Les Burk said...

I would like to add to the past post by "Al", in clarifying what is happening with the Marines and additional MRAP contracts... We were a participant in a bidding opportunity for a program called 360 lighting. We spent months creating a network and alliance of some of the best and most well known military and government contractors to craft the best solution to this problem. When communications were open to us, we were encouraged to bring in additional technologies to augment our best offerings. However when the proposal was submitted with care and due diligence we had to wait 7 weeks for a response to finally get a form letter telling us we were not qualified, but denied due to the fact that our proposal lacked sufficient clarity and perhaps even capabilities. Come on guys, we as a team support programs of over 3 billion dollars per year for military. Our capabilities are not lacking only your skills at reading documents pertaining to best technologies are especially when it relates to the fact that your pre-determined"friends" whom you choose prior to the release of the contract did not have sufficient grounds or merits to actually win based on composition, price and durability in the field. All of our submission supported the warfighter with milspec products and for those of you reading this blurb let me tell you that this means individual components that have been tested on the battle field... We were ahead of our time with our proposal and these jokers reviewing our proposal should have crafted what is known as a sole source award and not put this out to the general public for bidding. It would have saved us months of time and a load of cash and frustration. Unfortunately for us they now fail to respond to our attempts at honest communication to find out who won, what the composition of the winner entails and how fast it was delivered. We enlisted the help of our own congressional powers to form an investigation... Guess what folks, we still can't get no satisfaction!