In Donald Trump’s last speech on the eve of the Iowa Caucus, he talked about winning, Sarah Palin, China and 2,300 up-armored Humvees stolen by the Islamic State when the group overran the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014.
“I talk about it all the time: 2,300 brand new up-armored Humvees, I talk about it all the time…the best in the world,” Trump said. “Armor plated, top, bottom, all over, if a bomb goes off our wounded warriors–instead of losing their legs, their arms, worse, they’re okay. They go for a little ride upward and they come down.”
There are a number of things wrong with Trump’s statement. It’s true that sometimes when vehicles hit buried explosives that fail to detonate or partially explode, there’s little more than a bump and a lot of smoke. But regardless of how well armored your vehicle is, IED detonations that don’t kill or mutilate the vehicles’ occupants can blow eardrums, cause traumatic brain injures or eject people.
Up-armored Humvees are also some of the poorer vehicles for combating buried explosives. In 2007 they were largely replaced by MRAPs or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles because the Humvees were being destroyed en-mass on the roads of Iraq. Humvees, like the Willys Jeeps of old were meant to be general purpose vehicles–trucks that could ferry troops to and fro on the battlefield with little protection. When the insurgency in Iraq spread the vehicles were given armor kits to increase their longevity in environments fraught with ambushes and roadside bombs. The kits made the vehicles extremely heavy and unwieldy and were quickly defeated by an a highly adaptive enemy.
MRAPs and their V-shaped hulls, were designed specifically to hit roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. Even still, Iraqi and Afghan insurgents managed to build explosives that flipped MRAPs over—often ejecting the service member in the turret—or were so strong that even if the vehicle survived, the concussion from the shockwave would collapse the occupant’s organs.
According to a Washington Post database 2,500 troops have been killed by IEDs since 2001.
To Trump, the loss of the U.S.-turned-Iraqi vehicles to the Islamic was part of anecdote shared by a friend’s son, meant to illustrate how the United States is giving weapons to allies who then surrender the equipment to the United States’ enemies. But in doing so, he managed to trivialize the thousands of U.S. troops killed and maimed by IEDs and mine blasts in the last 15 years of conflict.