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Friday, June 03, 2005

It's Official, We're Really Losing 

M1A1

The Chron has an article today about a typical day for a tank crew in Iraq. They spend the day hanging out looking for booby traps and rousting motorists.

Rauch's job, and that of his two crew members aboard the 70-ton M1A Abrams, is to protect the bridge on the outskirts of this Sunni town, a key link on the main route for civilian and U.S. military traffic from the southern port city of Basra to the border with Turkey in the north.
So, Internets, I can hear you asking, "Hank, just how does this mean we're really losing?" Nothing could be simpler, Internets. Count the number of people mentioned, there's Spc Rauch and his two crew members. The Abrams tank is meant to have a 4 man crew. There's the commander, the driver, the gunner, and the loader. Now technology allows for the replacement of the loader with an automated loader. In fact, some types of American Self Propelled Artillery have just such a mechanism and the later Soviet model tanks have one too. But the designers of the Abrams left the human loader in the tank on purpose. A tank requires a lot of Preventative Maintenance; three men have much more trouble performing that maitenance than four. So the Abrams has human loader to make keeping the tank running a more reasonable task. But Spc Rauch (who's the gunner) appears to be doing his own loading. The Army is so strapped for warm bodies that we're sending tanks out on patrol without complete crews. We're losing.

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