Wizbang on the “Personnel carrier not anything like a tank” story

Stupidest. News. Story. Ever.

Paul at Wizbang didn’t link to the story he quoted from his local paper, but it’s probably just like this one:

…the AAV “is a lightweight amphibious personnel carrier not intended to be a fighting vehicle or anything like a tank. It’s one of the more vulnerable vehicles on the battlefield.”

That assessment, from Coffey and others, was echoed by Army Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, deputy director for regional operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has held senior combat command in Iraq. “Clearly the AAV does not offer the same protection as a tank,” Ham told reporters at the Pentagon.

Murdoc couldn’t see this one coming. Not after years of “but just because the Stryker doesn’t have as much armor as an M1 doesn’t mean it’s a deathtrap”. No sirreee, Bob.

Two days ago I noted that this latest incident where 14 Marines were killed by a roadside bomb wasn’t the only time that the AAVP7A1s had been hit. And I marveled during the initial invasion of Iraq that it was remarkable that the AAVs were going so far inland.

One evening (I think during the initial invasion but maybe shortly after) I watched old Greta van Sustren on FOXNews going on and on about, if helicopters are so dangerous, why do we keep using helicopters. She wouldn’t let it go. A helicopter had crashed, and she wanted to know why, since they’ve got a tendency to crash from time to time, do we still use them? I noted a similar outburst (of course, after another incident where a large number of troops were killed) early this year about the whirlybirds.

I don’t want to go into it for the millionth time, and most of you already get it. Everything is a compromise. You basically have mobility, offense, and defense. Then you determine your priorities based upon the mission this particular vehicle is going to be used for. Since the Amtrac needs to swim to be, well, “Am”, designers wisely decided to forego 40,000 pounds of armor.

Doubtless someone will hold this up as another example of Rumsfeld not caring about the troops.

A commenter on Wizbang noted:

That AAV article is probably part of a series, to be followed by:

‘The M16 Rifle Is No Tank Gun’
‘Abrams Cannot Fly’
‘Aircraft Carriers Cannot Submerge’
‘New Attack Subs Unable To Move Inland’

Well, that last one has already been covered by Andy Rooney:

We have nuclear submarines for sneaking up on enemies under water. One nuclear submarine costs $1.6 billion. We have 50.

They don’t dive in sand.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Anyway, I left a couple of comments myself there before deciding to post on this myself, and I hope that it’s okay if I quote myself here. The first was in response to someone who said they heard the Marines were using Amtracs because they were patrolling a swampy river area and they came in handy:

The Marines use Amtracs because that’s what amphibious Marines need to use.

While they may come in handy crossing the Euphrates or in swamps or something, you don’t just switch vehicles all of a sudden. This unit is an amphibious unit, so it uses Amtracs.

This isn’t the first time Amtracs have been blasted badly, and the large number of troops each carries means that casualties can be high when one gets hit. A Bradley doesn’t carry as many men, so even a total loss won’t kill as many. But then, a big complaint about the Bradley for a very long time was the low number of men it carries.

While it’s not reasonable to criticize the Marines for using Amtracs, a fair question might be: Since the Marines are going to be in the Peace & Stability business for the foreseeable future, might it make sense for some Marine units to make a switch to Bradleys or Strykers or M113s?

I had wondered about this earlier and Shek pointed out that it wasn’t only the infantry that would need to be reorg-ed but that additional vehicle crews would be needed. D’oh. I still wonder, since the Marines are bound to be in this business for some time, if they should at least look at it.

And finally, my anti-media rant:

This story is a simple illustration of maybe my biggest pet peeve: ignorance of military affairs by 99% of journalists.

I think all most journalists and editors know about the military is My Lai, the Pentagon Papers, and the words “Tet Offensive”.

Look. Although the military is complicated and sometimes just plain bass-ackwards, you’d think that people who were paid to cover the military would at least have more than an introductory understanding of military matters. But, sadly, we rarely see that.

I’m not genius. I’m just this guy, you know? Sitting at a desk on his luch break. I’ve never been in the military. So why is it that I can at least write competently (most of the time, anyway) about the military IN MY SPARE TIME when professional journalists fail so badly?


  1. When you consider that their primary objective is something more on the lines of making the military look bad, rather than reporting accurately on military affairs – they’re not failing at all.

  2. The IED flipped a 30+ ton vehicle. I doubt a Bradley, Stryker, or M-113 would have done any better. A main battle tank may not have survived. Blackfive has a similar post with Wolf Blitzer making equaly stupid statements about how they should have been riding in up-armored Humvees! Infantry Soldiers and Marines know that AAV’s and other armored personel carriers are a means of transportation and provide protection only against small arms and light shrapnel – not giant bombs. When the fighting starts, they are itching to get the hell out of those vehicles – both to get out of the death trap and to get into the fight.

  3. I’m not genius. I’m just this guy, you know? Sitting at a desk on his luch break. I’ve never been in the military. So why is it that I can at least write competently (most of the time, anyway) about the military IN MY SPARE TIME when professional journalists fail so badly?’ Because you love and respect the Military, and they detest it.

  4. I agree about giving Strykers to the Marines. They always seem to be too weak to be a land force, and too powerful for naval infantry. Remember when they were reequipped in a hurry with M-1s in Desert Storm?I wish the Pentagon would decide what to do with this elite service.

  5. Only 2nd Marine Division had M1-A1’s in Desert Storm. The 1st Marine Division still had M-60A3’s which performed very well in a good sized tank battle. The Corps is very happy with their LAV’s and have no interest in the Stryker unless it can swim – in which case it would be a viable replacement for the AAV – although I doubt a wheeled vehicle could transition from water to land very well.

  6. Buckethead and Fury- Is it really justifiable to presume anything other than the ignorance of the reporters on these topics? The ‘news’ and ‘they’ say all sorts of things that are not quite right, or even flat out wrong ALL of the time. It is a matter of subject matter knowledge. In your free time, you can become a subject matter expert on one, two, or even many subjects. But what if someone comes to you and asks about something outside of those areas? When the news or they say something that is not quite right about trains, which I know somewhat more about than the average person, I don’t assume they are anti-train, train haters or part of the vast rubber-wheel conspiracy. Should I? No. Should they perhaps learn more before writing the story, or fact check better before publishing the story? Yes. But that doesn’t seem to happen in the modern rush-to-press world. Ascribing bad intent to the writers takes you out of the fact-based community and into the speculative community and dimishes your credibility. And – undoubtedly – on the subject matter, you might be very sharp. Perhaps it would be useful to educate by writing letters to the writers and editors so that they can write better informed articles next time.

  7. If someone asks me about something outside of my area of expertise, I guess and then tell them it’s a guess and they should ask someone who knows better. Pretty easy, eh? And yes, don’t forget my motto: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by ignorance. It comes in handy frequently. I don’t think it quite explains the MSM’s behaviour though. I think there are a lot of people with agendas. It’s not just how they mangle stories, it’s represented in their injection of their opinions into stories which should contain facts, and the substance of those opinions, which betray their biases.

  8. That bit about aircraft carriers not being able to submerge… Did you hear that the Japanese had scout planes carried by submarine in the war in the Pacific? And I think the French submarine Surcouf had a similar capability in that era.

  9. I seem to recall that there is a drone which is launchable from a submarine missile tube…am I hearing things? If so it would be a neat addition.

  10. MP: I agree 100% that mere ignorance is to blame for many if not most factual errors in news reports about military issues. I’ve been thinking about this some more and I think I’m going to post my thoughts (lucky you!) later today if I get a chance. While ignorance is mostly what I’m complaining about here, there’s more to the issue than just not knowing that the Stryker has 8 wheels.