MRAP giveaway -- Low miles, driven in only one war, you haul
By TOM VANDEN BROOK | USA TODAY | Published: September 28, 2013
Free to a good home in a bad neighborhood: pre-owned, carefully maintained, never-blown-to-smithereens Mine Resistant Ambush Protected truck.
As the Pentagon withdraws from Afghanistan and vows never to get involved in any long, deadly wars of occupation, it has a few thousand armored vehicles to spare. So it's been giving them away to local police departments — 75 of them since August, according to the Defense Logistics Agency.
MRAPs did their job saving the lives of thousands of troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, they'll be hitting the mean streets of Columbus, Ohio, where campus police at The Ohio State University can presumably bust beer bashes with the behemoths. Cops in Madison, Wis., another Big Ten party town, can presumably do the same with theirs.
They're free. Mostly. Which is a pretty good deal considering a fully tricked-out MRAP with bomb-signal jammers, radios and a .50-caliber machine gun in the turret can run about $1 million.
But like buying a new car, there's a destination charge involved, according to Mimi Schirmacher, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency. If local police or state government pay shipping costs and justify the need, DLA is happy to put them behind the wheel of a 37,000-pound MaxxPro from Navistar.
Those needs include "active-shooter incidents, SWAT, and drug interdiction," according to Schirmacher.
A second life for the trucks is justified. Some are being cut up and sold for scrap in Afghanistan because they're deemed surplus and too costly to ship home. All told, the Pentagon spent $45 billion in a crash program to field them to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan where troops were dying daily when improvised explosive devices tore into thinly armored Humvees.
Former Defense secretary Robert Gates, who made their production the Pentagon's top priority in 2007, told USA TODAY the cost was well worth it.
"There is absolutely no question in my mind that thousands of troops are still alive today because they were riding in MRAPs when attacked by IEDs," Gates said. "I have heard that firsthand from countless troops on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. Quite simply, MRAPs have saved thousands of lives and limbs."