Marines ask DOD’s Inspector General to review MRAP allegations
Stars and Stripes February 27, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — The Marine Corps has asked the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office to look into allegations that delays in fielding Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles cost troops’ lives.
The allegations were made by Franz Gayl, a Corps civilian employee, who works in the Plans, Policies and Operations Department of Headquarters Marine Corps, who wrote in a Jan. 22 report that a 2005 request for MRAP vehicles for Marines in Iraq fell victim to the Corps’ “Byzantine” procurement system.
In the report, Gayl alleged that Corps officials turned down the 2005 request for MRAP vehicles because they lacked technical knowledge on the matter and they were more concerned whether the vehicles would cut into funding for other programs than they were with Marines on the ground.
While the report cites documents that show Corps officials were looking at the financial impact of buying MRAP vehicles on other programs, such as the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the documents do not say outright that such an impact was the reason for turning down the request.
In the report, Gayl said that the request for MRAP vehicles was reviewed by senior active-duty officers and senior retired officers now working as civilians for the Corps.
“Senior retired Marines, as permanent personnel, often have disproportionate, budget-centric influence over the UUNS [Urgent Universal Need Statement] vetting process,” the report said. “When viewed from a bureaucratic perspective, the MRAP UUNS would have had unfavorable reprogramming implications for MCCDC’s [Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s] programmatic focus.”
Based on statistics from the Web site www.icasualties.org, the report concludes that deaths from roadside bombs could have been reduced by 50 percent had the request been approved.
The Associated Press first publicized the report’s findings on Feb. 15. Corps officials have subsequently called the report a “preliminary internal paper” that represents the opinion of the author and not the Corps.
The Naval Audit Service has already conducted a review of the process by which the MRAP vehicles were requested, said Corps spokesman Maj. Jay Delarosa.
Based on the investigation’s recommendations and its own review, the Corps has already begun implementing improvements to the process, Delarosa said in an e-mailed response to questions on Monday.
“However, because of the seriousness of the allegations, and despite the fact that the NAS completed an audit of the UUNS process, the Marine Corps has taken the additional step of asking the Department of Defense Inspector General to look into some of Mr. Gayl’s allegations,” Delarosa said.
The inspector general’s office received a letter from the Corps dated Feb. 20 asking for a review of the allegations on MRAPs, said spokesman Gary Comerford.
Gayl is represented by the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit advocacy group for whistleblowers.
Adam Miles, an investigator with the group who is working on Gayl’s case, called the Corps’ decision to ask the investigator general to look into Gayl’s allegations a “step in the right direction.”
Until now, the Corps has been distancing itself from Gayl’s Jan. 22 report, Miles said Monday.
“It’s important that someone within the Marine Corps has realized the importance of what Franz has to say,” Miles said.