Here’s one reason that so many American soldiers and marines have died in Iraq…
Back in 1981, I was the head of a bulletproof car company in Monterey, California. We’d construct a box made of Lexgard inside a limo or regular car. It was pretty effective but difficult to install. Lexgard is General Electric’s transparent polycarbonate armor, very effective at stopping handgun bullets. If you put a hard surface in front of it, such as glass or sheet metal, it will stop rifle bullets. After the bullet hits the hard surface it is upset slightly on its axis and is then trapped in the dense but crystal-clear polycarbonate material.
The FMC factory was in nearby San Jose. I read a story about the troubles with the aluminum armor on their new Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The Bradley was having PR problems already but now the issue was the armor. Aluminum is a bad material for armor, since it doesn’t stop bullets very well. When they come through, they cause something called “spall,” which means that the pieces of the armor itself become deadly little weapons. And – aluminum melts.
The army, though, wanted to save weight so they told FMC to make the Bradleys out of aluminum. (FMC was later sold and is today United Defense LP, owned by George Bush’s Carlyle Group.)
So I went to FMC and proposed to line the inside of a Bradley with Lexgard, the way we did with limos. This would protect everyone from spall and fire, because Lexgard is fireproof and non-toxic. Installation would have been relatively easy in the boxy Bradley. I was politely turned down.
Puzzled, I called Dr. Charles Church, the head of research at the Pentagon. He said, “Listen – don’t try to modify an existing vehicle. If you want to do something, design it from the ground up and make your armor integral with your chassis.”
So that’s what I did. I came up with something I called “The FLEA,” which stood for, “Forward Light Escort, Armored.” I used an unknown but powerful fiberglass armor for the body with hardened Lexgard windows. It was to be hydraulically operated with its wheels almost two feet away from the body, for protection against tank landmines. My design was based on my experience with landmines in Rhodesia as a member of their security forces in the terror war in the ‘70s.
Shortly after my design was complete (1982), the army put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a new vehicle they called the “High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle,” or “HMMWV.” The new Jeep and light truck. I duly submitted the FLEA to Tank Automotive Command (TACOM) in Michigan.
After a month or so, I called TACOM and inquired as to the progress of the selection process. The officer said, “The FLEA – yes, I have it here… Oh, yeah – this is armored. We don’t want armor.”
I knew the specification they wanted. The bodywork had to defeat the equivalent of a pellet fired from a pellet gun. Something like 19 grains at 435 feet per second. Something silly like that. I mentioned this to the officer. He said, “Yeah, right. We call it ‘psychological armor…’”
“’Psychological armor?’” I let that sink in to my brain. “You mean, the guys just THINK they’re sitting behind armor?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, pretty much.”
“But, “ I said, “I’m under the weight requirement even with the armor. Why not give them the protection?”
“That’s not what we want.”
I kept trying to get some interest in the vehicle for its own sake, as a tank killer, not as a Humvee. No sale. Well, actually, there was some interest. I got a retired general to promote it to the army’s Advanced Development Experimental Agency at Ft. Hunter Liggett. They liked it and sent it to their commander at Ft. Lewis, who liked it and sent it to TACOM, who didn’t like it again.
In 1993 I took a chance and put $80,000 into building the rolling (unarmored) chassis, so people could actually see its basic dimensions and logic. The army still wasn’t interested, apparently not wanting to believe that a lightweight vehicle could do what I advertised.
Then I forgot about the whole thing ‘til 2000, when my old friend, Skip, persuaded me to go to a symposium on humanitarian demining in Monterey. I made some good contacts, such as the general who became the head of Army Materiel Command. He was vitally interested in mine protection. But I became vitally interested in humanitarian mine removal. I thought the FLEA would be ideal for this noble effort, since I was by this time a serious opponent of the US Army, the US government and war. I also had been blown up by an anti-tank mine in Africa in 1973 while riding in a police Land Rover, so I appreciated the mine problem made famous by the late Diana, although she was involved more in the small but terrible anti-personnel mines.
By 2003, I moved to Las Vegas and became partners with a guy who liked my humanitarian plan. The FLEA was now patented and protected here and overseas. I began to seek support for the humanitarian version of the vehicle. It turned out that the US Army is in charge of humanitarian demining, so they were invited to come to Las Vegas to view the now-armored rolling chassis. The two men who came were the director of combat development at Fort Leonard Wood and a man from Night Vision Labs in New Jersey, a retired colonel. The men were astonished on seeing the FLEA. One said that he’d been asking TACOM for just such a design for years, that is, a lightweight vehicle that could withstand the hit of an anti-tank mine. He was told repeatedly that such a vehicle was impossible. “But here it is,” he marveled, “this is how you beat the tank mine, with your wheels way outboard.”
It was clear there was no budget for a humanitarian demining vehicle, but there was great interest in this thing for Iraq.
The FLEA is designed to keep moving with the loss of one or even three wheels. By now the design had replaced the hydraulic operation with hybrid-electric drive and steering and air suspension. And it had six wheels instead of four – an army requirement for trench-crossing.
The man confided several secrets to us, secrets about the Bosnian adventure and about the six-month old invasion of Iraq. American vehicles were unusable in Bosnia, he said, due to their gross weight. “The roads and bridges couldn’t support them and they never left the airport.” This would continue to be a problem even in Iraq, where the ballyhooed “Stryker” vehicle would collapse roads and bridges and roll over into canals and drown crewmen.
He said, “You’ve obviously solved the tank-mine problem, but the real threat in Iraq is the IED (improvised explosive device).” The IED would continue to cause 70% of US casualties to this day. He revealed that even the Future Combat System requirement for mine protection was only against anti-personnel mines!
But, of course, the real scandal is the ridiculous Humvee, perhaps the most preposterous idea of all, after the invasion itself. A preposterous invasion needs a preposterous vehicle.
First of all, the Humvee is just an aggressive-looking station wagon. It has four doors, unless they are removed. If you want to shoot out from the thing, the doors have to be removed, so you can swing your rifle around. That’s what we did in Rhodesia, with our Land Rovers. Took the doors off so that when we drove into an ambush we could return fire and save ourselves. The Humvee’s windows don’t roll down, so you can’t shoot with the doors closed. And it’s pretty silly to open the door and try to stick your rifle out with the thing swinging around as you’re trying to return fire, escaping up the road. A real tactical vehicle has no roof, either, so that you can see and shoot at an overhead threat. If it has a roof, you better be able to see and shoot up!
As we saw with the “psychological armor” bit, it doesn’t really matter if the doors are on or off, because you have no protection either way. With the doors off, you can at least shoot back. With the doors on, you’re a sitting duck. And the real problem is not bullets, but blast from IEDs. Serious armor protection was called for! Duh.
So, when enough people started getting killed in these things, the army decided to armor them. It went from the ridiculous to the insane.
Meanwhile, TACOM sent engineers from its R&D group, TARDEC, to Las Vegas for discussions with us in January, 2004. We also had representatives from Michelin, Eaton-Vickers and the armor manufacturer in San Antonio (Safeguard Security) and others, including the Chain Gun makers, present, plus men from Senator Harry Reid, who was backing the project. The TARDEC men said that the landmine requirement for Future Combat System vehicles would have to be rewritten now, due to the FLEA’s design. The FLEA would be funded for 2005 and Senator Reid’s military liaison said that if TARDEC would go ahead and use some discretionary funds for 2004, the senator would pay them back in ’05, so as to get this wonderful vehicle to the troops this year (’04).
This was agreed to by the TARDEC men. By all accounts it was an unprecedented meeting of army, industry, political and us entrepreneurs. Michelin has a fantastic new plastic wheel/tire combo that is virtually indestructible. They were interested in introducing it on the FLEA. So were we. And so was the army. I regaled everyone with the story about Psychological Armor. The chief engineer from TARDEC squirmed and said quietly, “Let’s hope that doesn’t come out…”
Later in January my partner and I flew to Washington DC to meet with Senator Reid’s chief counsel, the US Army Materiel Command and the State Department’s landmine removal personnel.
The Army Materiel Command had tried to get us into business with United Defense, mentioned above. The general thought if UD went ahead and built the prototype, the army could purchase it that way. But United Defense wouldn’t do it without millions of dollars being paid to them first. That’s how they’re used to doing things. It’s the Halliburton method.
All went well until we got back to Las Vegas. The army had investigated us and found that we were both politically incorrect. Perhaps “incorrect” is not strong enough a word. Disastrous is the word. Actually, I’d been in a strange situation, a true enemy of the state wandering around the capital of enemy-occupied territory, going into the Senate and House office buildings, gathering congressional support for the FLEA. Several congressmen and two senators signed on with Senator Reid. Reid’s senior counsel asked me to draft a letter from Reid to Rumsfeld, which I did do.
Reid, Ensign and Carl Levin signed it, along with some congress-people on the House Armed Services Committee who had raised hell with the army chief of staff a couple of days earlier over the failures of the Humvee. My future seemed secure! Anything for the troops! I turned out to be quite an effective lobbyist.
Jeremy Hekhuis was Carl Levin’s assistant in the Senate Armed Services Committee office. His eyebrows raised on hearing the Psychological Armor story, since by that time quite a number of GIs had been killed in un-armored Humvees. “Well, let’s hope that that doesn’t come out…”
However, I was the guy who started the militia movement back in the late ‘80s, with my book, The New American Man. I had also written quite a bit since then against the US government and against the state of Israel, as I still do from time to time. In my book I had actually called for the overthrow of the Zionist US government. No one took me very seriously in 1989 except for the government. The militia movement did take off around 1991 but all it really did was stockpile a bunch of guns and ammo. The FBI and CIA, though, thought that I was very serious, which I was. They followed me everywhere for a year or more. They sent informants to get friendly with me.
The Secret Service in 1991 threatened to kill me if I was anywhere near President GHW Bush, currently the head of United Defense. There was irony all over the place.
Senator Reid’s chief counsel now said that the army and the senator would have nothing to do with the FLEA because of what I had written about Israel! That was all that mattered, my criticism of Zionism and its control of the US government. The glaring need of a safe vehicle became irrelevant.
Frankly, I was relieved. The whole thing had gotten out of control. I, of all people, trying to protect the troops. Did the troops deserve a decent vehicle? Not really, since they’re nothing but vicious, mindless war criminals, like their commander-in-chief and his Zionist controllers.
But maybe the parents of the 5,000 dead troops (or is it 72,000?) and the thousands of injured and maimed troops would not appreciate the army’s need to avoid offending the Jews by refusing on principle to deal with a helpful villain such as I. I’d had a bumper sticker on my truck since 2002, when it appeared that Bush was going to invade Iraq for his own personal reasons: “Bush Is A Liar And An Oil Thief.” That was a year before the invasion. I had been severely injured by two poisonings in Las Vegas maybe over that bumper sticker, or maybe the other one, which read, “Stop Obeying Our Zionist Parasites.” I paid heavily for my “free speech” right. Of course, it could have been the vehicle itself that got me poisoned. No doubt there were people who did not want someone such as I making many millions of dollars, much of which would have funded a serious anti-Zionist operation.
I gave the patent to my friend, Skip. It’s in his name now. What he does or doesn’t do with it is a matter of complete indifference to me.
Before we leave this ridiculous (but true) story, let’s see what happened to the Humvee. It got “armored.”
While we were still friendly, Senator Reid had encouraged us to visit the Nevada Automotive Test Center near Reno. This is truly a fantastic if unknown place. Situated on a million acres in the desert and mountains near the ruins of Ft. Churchill, NATC is the test bed for most new military vehicles and many civilian vehicles. The engineers are the best and they know what is needed for vehicles to survive the worst military and off-road conditions. They even have a half-mile oval track with electronic controls under the pavement so that big rigs can be run for a million miles with no drivers, to be stopped only for fuel and maintenance.
The owners gave us the royal treatment and they were enthusiastic about improving the design of the FLEA so that it would pass all tests and be immediately accepted by the army, as well as perform even beyond what I and my design engineer, himself a Silver Star winner (Vietnam), had designed it to do. John M. had also been blown up by a Soviet TM-46 tank mine, as had I. The FLEA is undoubtedly the only vehicle designed by two guys who’d survived tank mine explosions in lighter vehicles.
When we got there I was surprised to see fifteen or so stripped down Humvees parked around the place. Bolted to the front and rear of each vehicle were heavy weights. The chief engineer explained that the army wanted these Humvees tested with the added three thousand pounds to simulate the weight of the new armor kits and OEM armoring that was to be done. The army wanted to test tire wear with the extra weight. Early results showed that the tire wear had gone all to hell.
The NATC guys had just come back from Iraq. Talk about tire wear! Talk about – well, you name it. The supply convoys out of Kuwait are run like this: 60+ miles per hour for the 900 mile round trip. If anybody gets ambushed or breaks down, he’s on his own. The convoy keeps rolling! See you on the flip side. Or not.
When the vehicles get into the built-up areas, there are nine-inch square curbs along the streets. If there is a problem with a breakdown or ambush, all vehicles have to crash over the curbs to get around the stalled vehicle. This tends to destroy the front ends of all the vehicles. Alignment is not possible. Tires last a few thousand miles. No vehicles will be returned to the US after the war because they are all trashed. This of course makes the truck and car makers very sad, because they all have to be replaced. C’est la guerre!
But here is the reality of the “armored Humvees:” These essentially half-ton civilian vehicles in camouflage paint are not designed to have three thousand pounds added to them. That’s three times more than their payload in the first place, which means that with the armor added, they have no payload! Instead of carrying four soldiers, they can only carry three. But that’s better because only three guys will be killed instead of four. Killed by an IED or by an RPG or killed by the heat.
An early modified Humvee was hit by an IED in Baghdad. The officer reported that “the ass end was blown off and we were stranded, but they couldn’t hit us with bullets…” They had to get out pretty quickly, though, and brave the bullets because the stranded wreck was soon hit by an RPG. This was the idea behind the FLEA: you have to be able to drive away from the kill zone without having to get out and walk.
There’s no air conditioning on any military vehicle. The FLEA would have been the first because it was designed that way. What’s the inside temperature of a vehicle in Iraq in the summertime? Pretty much like Las Vegas or Phoenix: over 140. In one of these jobs with sealed, inch and a half thick windows, we can just feel the heat stroke starting. And you still can’t defend yourself in one of these rolling ovens because the windows don’t open. The doors do, if you’re on level ground – they weigh 200 pounds. Don’t stick your rifle out this open door because if it swings shut, it’ll bend your barrel.
These are the kit cars, the ones with aftermarket armor kits. Then there are the new ones, the “up-armored” ones. These guys are so heavy that they had to be totally redesigned with more powerful engines, transmissions, suspensions, brakes – just to handle the weight of the armor. There’s no payload either because they’re just barely designed to carry their own weight, which is pretty dumb.
Back in ’82, when the HMMWV was being designed, the US Army must have thought it was never going to be shot at, ever again. That’s the charitable view. A more realistic view is that the US Army doesn’t give a damn if the troops get shot at or not. They’re expendable, just like the vehicles. The army must come up with a way to procure more of them for our next excellent adventure in Zionist genocide.