Monday, June 12, 2006
DAYTON, Ohio, June 11 -- Thousands of pounds of armor added to military Humvees in Iraq have made the vehicles more likely to roll over and kill or injure soldiers, a newspaper reported.
"I believe the up-armoring has caused more deaths than it has saved," Scott Badenoch, a former Delphi Corp. vehicle dynamics expert, told the Dayton Daily News for its Sunday editions.
Congress and the Army have spent tens of millions of dollars on armor for the Humvee fleet in Iraq, the newspaper said.
That armor -- much of it installed on the M1114 Humvee built at the Armor Holdings Inc. plant north of Cincinnati -- has shielded soldiers from harm.
But serious accidents involving the M1114 have increased, and accidents are much more likely to be rollovers than those involving other Humvee models, the newspaper reported.
An analysis of the Army's ground-accident database, which includes records from March 2003 through November 2005, found that 60 of the 85 soldiers who died in Humvee accidents in Iraq -- or about 70 percent -- were killed when the vehicle rolled, the newspaper said. Of the 337 injuries, 149 occurred in rollovers.
"The whole thing is a formula for disaster," said Badenoch, who is working with the military to design a lighter-armored vehicle.
Army spokesman John Boyce Jr. told the Associated Press on Sunday that the military takes the issue seriously and continues to provide soldiers with additional training on the armored Humvee.
The Army has made safety upgrades to the vehicle, including improved seat restraint belts and a fire-suppression system, he said.
There are more than 25,300 armored Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said.
When Humvees roll, the most vulnerable passenger is the gunner, the soldier who operates the weapon mounted atop the vehicle.
Gunners were killed in at least 27 of the 93 fatal Humvee accidents since 2001, according to the newspaper's analysis.