The Corner

Why MRAPs?

Per Foreign Policy, confirmation of a worrying report:

Yes, the vehicle of choice for fighting the counterinsurgency war in Iraq is now appearing on U.S. streets. This video posted to YouTube shows an officer with the Department of Homeland Security’s El Paso Special Response Team showing off one of DHS’s brand new MRAPs (remember: that acronym stands for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected).

This MRAP has been modified to carry “operators” (not officers — it’s as if we’re sending SOF teams to serve warrants now) riding shotgun on the outside of the vehicle or inside the heavily armored truck while they service “high-risk warrants.” Notice the firing ports below the windows, which are thick enough to stop a .50 caliber bullet.

Whether justified by the criminal threat or not, the notion of MRAPs loaded with  “operators” who are tricked out in what used to be special-ops gear performing law-enforcement duties – like serving a warrant – seems a little creepy. Wouldn’t the normal armored trucks that SWAT teams have used for the last 30 years cut it?

One would think so, yes, and even those are worrying. The government should not be deploying this sort of hardware on the streets of the United States. At best it is a terrible waste of money, and at worst it is part of an unfortunate long-term process by which law enforcement has bought up weapons of war and deployed them in civilian situations — wholly inappropriate in a republic. What sort of warrant, pray, justifies the use of armored cars? How often is the DHS called upon to take on people firing .50 caliber rounds? Even if there are a couple of instances in which this has happened, how does it justify buying thousands of the vehicles? Some answers would be nice. (Those who wish to “militarize” the border but don’t want our federal departments to buy up military weaponry should remember that they can’t have it both ways.) 

On another note, I have received a number of e-mails today asking why I didn’t mention this MRAP purchase in my piece about federal ammunition purchases. Well, I didn’t mention it because I was writing about ammunition myths, and this isn’t an ammunition myth. This is real and it’s troubling. As I said earlier: Some things are true, and some things are not. We should do better at distinguishing between them.


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