US Military to deploy new urban combat vehicle to Afghanistan, Iraq

As the relatively-painless US invasion of Iraq in Spring 2003 wound down and a brutal insurgency started up, the “Humvee” – from High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) – fast proved tragically inadequate for the urban guerrilla warfare the US Armed Forces increasingly began to encounter.* Thin-skinned and relatively unsophisticated in lethality, it was always meant primarily for logistics (transport) rather than battle, just as was the bare-bones yet rugged Jeep – famous through WWII and after – which the Humvee only finally replaced in 1985. Sure, you could throw a .50 caliber machine gun on the roof, but it was never meant to withstand serious combat threats. Even up-armored with additional metal plating, the vehicle could at best only guarantee that rifle fire could not pass through to injure the occupants. Indeed, the Humvee – armored or otherwise – could simply not withstand the explosion of a 155mm artillery shell from directly beneath it, which someone hid under some garbage on the road and wired to a wristwatch, alarm clock, pressure plate or cell phone trigger. Indeed, Sunni Al Qaeda-associated terrorists, Ba’athist die-hards, Shia Iran-associated militias, unaligned bandits and militants of any stripe soon began to discover that using these Improvised Explosive Devices or “IED’s” – while ignoble and even cowardly – was far more effective than tangling with the US in an actual firefight, where every advantage lay with their enemy.*** Consequently, IED attacks became far more prevalent than ambushes and came to account for over 70% of combat casualties, although ambushes were still sprung. This trend was replicated in Afghanistan as the neo-Taliban soon came to the same conclusion. In addition, the few ambushes the braver of the enemy continued to stage quickly witnessed the use of as many Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs) as the militants could muster, as opposed to the once ubiquitous AK-47, so as to best threaten the now up-armored Humvees.

By 2005 military authorities finally began getting a suitable replacement urban combat vehicle (the M1A1 Abrams tank is too big and fits too few inside for this role) into the Iraqi theater: the Stryker. While a large artillery shell can still destroy the vehicle beyond repair, it at best will only leave the occupants with some nasty bruises and ringing in their ears. Moreover, while a High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) round from an RPG can usually smash through even the thickest of Humvee armored-doors, the slat armor on the Stryker means that the munition detonates too early to punch through the armor as per its design. Of course, in war as with any human endeavor any innovation that might give one party a significant advantage is soon met with a counter-measure. Stryker fatalities began to be taken in 2006 from what came to be identified as Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs). Manufactured in neighboring Iran and distributed to friendly Shia militias and proxies in Iraq – most notably the huge “Mahdi Army”**** in eastern Baghdad – these EFPs were a far cry from a rusty artillery shell wired to a Timex. Conically designed to channel liquid metal at hyper-velocity speed through even the thickest armor, EFPs were placed under sewer man-hole covers to overcome the Stryker’s slat armor- and in some lateral cases were able to defeat even this feature.

Which brings us to present day. Yes, for 2011 the Pentagon has announced its commission of the production of 500 of General Dynamics’, in association with Tim Burton Productions, Basic Attack-Tasked Mechanized Bulwarked Layout (BATMBL) or “Batmobile” vehicles. While it holds at most two occupants – as opposed to the Stryker’s nine – the new urban combat vehicle is impervious to all threats short of nuclear attack. Even simultaneous, multiple IED detonation failed to even scratch the Batmobile’s menacing contours or gorgeous paint-job. The final evolution of years of beta prototype production, the Batmobile boasts some of the most sophisticated technologies available today, including an automated armored shell activation mode, remote driving capabilities, spherical extendable-grenade hubcap center caps, and a 300 decibel Prince Psy-Ops stereo loudspeaker system. This final, paralytically frightening feature is rumored to have been the deciding factor in the selection of General Dynamics’ Batmobile over the only competing design submission from perennial rival Northrup Grumman, in association with James Cameron’s Lightstorm Productions.

Asked about perhaps the only possible critique that one could level at the new vehicle – its complete lack of ground clearance – BATMBL design team leader, Jack Napier, responded, “It can hit 270 miles per hour when the afterburner is fully engaged.”

Governor Schwarzenegger is reportedly poised to be the first to own a civilian version, despite the fact that it is only available in black.

*after the top-most ranking US official after the invasion, “Proconsul”** Bremer, in all his infinite wisdom disbanded the Iraqi military and disallowed the Sunni Ba’athist elite from participating in the new government. Unemployed, humiliated and trained to kill…hmmm, what’s the worst that could happen?

**from antiquity: the official title for an Imperial Roman governor. Affixed to Bremer’s handle as if to denote that the US had acquired a new “province” in its “empire.” In reality, that the enterprise was exhaustively expensive in blood and treasure and that the new Iraqi government is free to snub the US through oil contracts or foreign policy as much as it pleases wholly destroys this commonly-encountered and entirely empty-headed leftist “empire” or “blood for oil” hypothesis.

***Particularly at night, where only the US has night-vision capability. Indeed, the US Armed Forces has heavily favored fighting at night as a matter of doctrine since acquiring this huge tactical advantage in the early 90′s. Advantages also include: air support, artillery support, weaponry, basic infantry skill training etc. etc. Basically any category save for fanaticism, superiority in which obviously lies with the religiously-inspired insurgents.

****followers of notorious Shia Imam and political firebrand Moktada Al-Sadr.

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