Armored Humvees More Crash Prone

The law of unintended consequences has kicked in for the U.S. Army. Having up-armored its Humvees to protect soldiers from improvised explosive devices, leaders have discovered that the heavier vehicles are now much more susceptible to rollovers. Several soldiers have died as a result.

Humvee crashes perplex Army (USA Today)

The Army is baffled by a recent spate of vehicle accidents in Iraq — many of them rollovers involving armored Humvees — that have claimed more than a dozen lives this year. One key concern: Soldiers lack the skills to handle the heavier Humvees and are losing control as they speed through ambush areas before insurgents detonate roadside bombs. “An individual feels that if he goes faster he can avoid that threat,” says Lt. Col. Michael Tarutani, an Army official tracking the accidents. “But now he’s exceeded, first, maybe his capabilities, and then maybe the speed for those conditions.”

In the past four full months, the numbers of serious vehicle accidents and fatalities in Iraq have more than doubled from the previous four months, records provided by the Army show. In the first 10 weeks of this year, 14 soldiers were killed in accidents involving Humvees or trucks. All but one died in rollovers. If that rate continues, the number of soldiers killed in such accidents this year would be almost double the 39 soldiers killed in 2004. Detailed records involving Marines were not available.

The Army is trying to determine whether the dramatic increase in the number of Humvees in use in Iraq — or an increase in the amount of miles they are being driven — might explain the higher number of accidents. It also is questioning whether the handling and center of gravity in Humvees may have been altered by armor plating bolted on in Iraq or shields added around gun turrets. Adding to the mystery is that many of the rollover accidents involve the newest generation of factory-produced armored Humvees, vehicles thoroughly tested by the Army and with an even lower center of gravity than those without armor plating.

Obviously, there are many factors at work here. But people keep forgetting that the HMMWV was a replacement for the jeep designed to provide increased flexibility. It was never designed to be an armored personnel carrier.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Harry says:

    Just idle curiousity, but I wonder if the “self-armored” Humvees that the soldiers crafted themselves were any more crash-prone?

  2. Homer says:

    Some of the Uparmored HMMWV’s are designed as armored cars. The M1114 is at least twice as heavy and has a more powerful engine than a M998 with armored plates. I’d be interrested to know if the majority of the crashes are the true Armored M1114s or the uparmored M998s. Having driven an M1114 and unarmored M998s, the extra weight makes the thing handle like a pig. Hard to speed up and stops about a quickly as a heavily leaded freight train.

  3. Mikey says:

    Plus you have the fact that you have (in many cases) young men driving them. Young men are not known to be especially cautious around motor vehicles (God knows I wasn’t) and their is a tendency to drive beyond the vehicleand driver’s capability. ArmorGedden (www.avengerredsix.blogspot.com) (I think) has a posting of a chase involving an armored humvee at night. After reading that post, I’m not surprised there are crashes.

  4. Clint Lovell says:

    Those are the risks. My daughter drove a Hummer over an IED in Fallujah last year. Blew her out of the vehicle and by some miracle she walked away from the blast with only a couple of cuts and scratches.

    I bet if you gave her the choice she’d take the uparmoured model and take her chances.

  5. jasonovas says:

    ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIERS :::: THE issue is whether to use light trucks or armored personnel carriers. *** M998/M104x/M11xx are all “soft target” vehicles with no substantial upper frame. There’s a nasty bit of false propaganda floating around Iraq saying that the M1114 takes a point-blank blow from a 152mm or 155mm artillery shell. That is a lie. We’ve got photos of an uparmored M998 absolutely flattened from a smaller roadside bomb. *** The right tool is the armored personnel carrier. APC. The U.S. has 16,455 (of the world’s 80,000) M113 class APCs. Bought, paid for, all on active inventory. Base dry weight 27,000-pounds. *** Standard IDF tool. Israel has 4,000 of them. *** Rafael make scores of add ons and upgrades. The wedge anti-mine piece is impressive. Armour is available for anything Arab irregulars have to throw at you. *** Critical stat: IDF was taking 2 KIA/month. US takes 2 KIA/day. *** Neo-Con noncombatants let the Humvee EMPIRE BUILDERS go nuts in Iraq. Produced at least 56% of US casualties. This will only get worse as Arab irregulars ever so easily super-size their bombs. *** The Up-Armor Humvee is fine first off, compared to doing nothing. Best course is to ship 3,000 M113s to Iraq. Replace the Humvees for all high risk patrol work. *** Stow the neo-con ego trips and copy Israel. IDF is competent and experienced. Neo-cons like Rumsfeld are neither, at least in terms of taking thousands of unnecessary casualties.