The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has obtained and publicly released portions of the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General (IG) Audit, Marine Corps Implementation of the Urgent Universal Needs Process for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles. The DoD IG found that despite knowledge of the threat posed by mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) before the insurgent actions began in Iraq in 2003, DoD failed to develop requirements for, fund, or acquire mine resistant ambush protected-type (MRAP) vehicles. "As a result, the Department entered into operations in Iraq without having taken available steps to acquire technology to mitigate the known mine and IED risk to soldiers and Marines," said the results briefing, available on the DoD IG's website here.
"It's bad enough when acquisition and procurement failures result in scheduling and cost overruns," said Mandy Smithberger, National Security Investigator for POGO. "But it's unconscionable that the failure to meet our soldier's needs may have resulted in preventable deaths of our servicemen and women."
The DoD IG found that an Urgent Universal Need Statement for MRAPs went unprocessed and unevaluated, largely due to bureaucratic mishandling, but that there was no criminal negligence on the part of the Marine Corps.
Whistleblower and Marine Corps science advisor Franz Gayl's complaints about the Marine Corps' "gross mismanagement" of requests from marines in Iraq for highly survivable vehicles initiated the DoD IG's investigation. In February, after being urged by Gayl, POGO, and the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Sens. Christopher Bond (R-MO), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), and then-Senator and now-Vice President-elect Joe Biden (D-DE) requested that Defense Secretary Robert Gates investigate the matter.
After documents acquired by POGO in May 2007 first raised concerns about MRAP acquisition, former POGO National Security Investigator Nick Schwellenbach called for an investigation into DoD rapid acquisition. "There is obviously some healthy tension between the traditional acquisition community's desire to ensure that money is spent well on tested and robust systems and the need to get systems into the field rapidly, but Marines in the field cannot wait years while known and proven off-the-shelf solutions exist," said Schwellenbach at the time. "The authority for rapid acquisition is there, unfortunately breakdowns in the system are leading to unnecessary delays."