Future Fleet

By Marjorie Censer / November 13, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- who criticized the Army earlier this year for failing to integrate Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles into its Future Combat Systems plans -- indicated yesterday he expects MRAP All-Terrain Vehicles will also be a part of the military's future fleet.

Speaking to employees at M-ATV manufacturer Oshkosh's production facility in Oshkosh, WI, Gates said improvised explosive devices "of various degrees of lethality and sophistication will be with us for some time today.

"And so the need for these kinds of vehicles will not soon go away," he continued.

However, he stressed that no vehicle can prevent all fatalities.

"((W))e must never forget that there is no fail-safe measure that can prevent all loss of life and limb on this or any other battlefield, especially against a ruthless and resourceful enemy. That is the crude reality of war," Gates told employees. "But vehicles like the M-ATV and the MRAP, combined with the right tactics, techniques and procedures, provide the best protection against roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices."

At the facility to thank Oshkosh's workers, Gates noted a contrast between today's wars and those of the past.

"During the world wars of the past century, the war effort mobilized the entire American economy," he said. "That is not the case with most of our industry today, defense included. But you all have the opportunity to work on one of the few projects where your efforts have a direct and immediate impact on men and women fighting on the front lines."