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The Aug. 15 article “Inflated Impact? Tally of lives saved by MRAPs lowered” on the inflated “lifesaving” numbers misses the point. Yes, given a large enough improvised explosive device, people will still die no matter how well-armored the vehicle. But the greatest cost to the services in war isn’t death, it’s disability.

In 2011-12 the wounded outnumber the fatalities by about 8 to 1. In my observations serving as an engineer brigade surgeon in Afghanistan, the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle greatly reduces disability. That doesn’t mean that no one gets hurt from an IED, but it’s often a less severe hurt.

If an MRAP drives over a large IED, it will be thrown in the air — subjecting the crew to rapid acceleration then rapid deceleration when it lands. A few typical injuries are concussions, fractures, herniated discs as well as numerous minor injuries. A Humvee (HMMV) drives over the same IED and the same things happen, with many of the same injuries (the heavier, V-hulled MRAP doesn’t get thrown as high). But what makes the HMMV-vs.-IED so much worse is that the blast and shrapnel rip through the vehicle, causing penetrating trauma to the crew. Before you can begin to treat their herniated disc or concussion you’ve got to stop their bleeding, sew up their bowels, amputate what’s left of their leg, and drain the blood from their punctured lung. The MRAP crew compartments are usually intact, protecting the crew from most shrapnel injuries.

In the short term this means we can fix a lot of these injuries and return the soldiers to duty. Training replacements is not free. In the long run we’re going to save more in disability costs from the reduction in penetrating trauma.

How many lives the MRAP has saved is difficult to measure. The enemy has tried to counter better vehicles with bigger IEDs. Measuring the cost effectiveness of the MRAP has to factor in the reduction in disability as well as lives saved.

We should keep the MRAP, it’s worth the price tag.

Dr. (Col.) Jonathan R. Greifer

Camp Buehring, Kuwait

Killer’s Nazi leanings seal it

The author of the Aug. 14 letter “Nazis don’t define Germany” suggests that “[t]he media likes to associate anything German with the Nazis when reporting stories about white supremacy/neo-Nazi hate crimes.” I might not be as sensitive to the subject as the letter writer is, but his conclusion hasn’t been my perception.

The shooter at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin was a self-identified white supremacist who espoused the ideals of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Therein lies the context. Red, white and black may have been the colors of Imperial Germany and the Kubelwagen may have been an all-purpose field vehicle during World War II, but within the context of the shooter’s racist views one cannot seriously think that the two were meant to represent anything other than Nazi Germany.

Post-World War II, Germany rose to become a vibrant and prosperous democracy. It continued that legacy after its reunification. Germans should be rightfully proud of this. There is also the legacy of Hitler and Nazism that is emulated by some to this day and they shouldn’t deny this.

I don’t think anyone in the media, or anywhere else for that matter, looks at a Porsche today and thinks Nazi. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Kubelwagen. I do think it’s safe to assume that a self-avowed neo-Nazi who drove a vehicle — the design for which was based upon something produced for and used by Hitler’s Wehrmacht, and painted in colors used by the Third Reich — was anything other than advertised. And that had nothing to do with the Germany of today and everything to do with hate.

Context is everything.

Sgt. 1st Class Christopher C. Hendricks

Joint Multinational Readiness Center Hohenfels, Germany

No room to include HDENTAC?

I would like to commend Stars and Stripes for your coverage of the casing of the colors for the Heidelberg Heidelberg Medical Department Activity (“Germany’s HMEDDAC cases colors,” Aug. 5, Europe edition). I was dismayed, however, to see no mention at all of a similar ceremony 20 minutes later at the same location — the casing of the colors of the Heidelberg DENTAC. The HDENTAC has provided dental care to soldiers and their family members in Heidelberg since the arrival in 1946 of the 130th Station Hospital, sharing a similar history as the HMEDDAC.

We worked hard to coordinate both ceremonies celebrating a long history of medical and dental care in Heidelberg. I believe that everyone in attendance felt the ceremonies went well, and that they offered the proper solemnity and respect for both organizations. This was an important part of the greater U.S. Army in Europe transformation.

As the last HDENTAC commander, I wish, for the sake of our soldiers and color guard on the field, and for all members of the command in the audience, that some mention would have been made of the ceremony. Preferably, this mention would have been made in an adjacent photo and caption to the HMEDDAC’s. This would have captured the essence of the combined ceremony that we worked so hard to achieve.

Col. William R. Bachand

Heidelberg, Germany


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