Shielding Rumsfeld, Hannity overstated number of "up-armored" Humvees in Iraq


Attempting to defend Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld against criticism that the Pentagon hasn't provided enough armor for military vehicles in Iraq, FOX News and ABC Radio Networks host Sean Hannity overstated the number of "up-armored" Humvees currently deployed in Iraq. In a December 15 radio interview with Rumsfeld on The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity falsely asserted that the military now has 15,000 up-armored Humvees, and Rumsfeld said Hannity's flawed assessment was "roughly correct." Hannity repeated the erroneous claim that evening on Hannity & Colmes. In fact, the U.S. military presently has only 6,000 up-armored Humvees in Iraq; there are also 10,000 Humvees with add-on armor kits, which offer less protection than up-armored vehicles.

In his radio interview, Hannity falsely equated "up-armored Humvees" with "armored Humvees" in the following exchange with Rumsfeld:

HANNITY: I understand that about a year ago -- well, maybe it was about 18 months ago -- we only had 235 uparmored Humvees, in other words armored Humvees, and once we noticed that the nature of the battle was shifting and as roadside bombs began to take more of a severe toll on our forces in a short period of time, we produced another 15,000. Is that all correct?

RUMSFELD: That is roughly correct. Yes, to the best of my knowledge. You know, on this subject, you're right. That's true.

Later, on FOX News' Hannity & Colmes, Hannity declared: "You know, 18 months ago we had only had 235 what we call up-armored Humvees in Iraq. But as soon as those roadside bombs began to have a more devastating effect on our soldiers, we got 15,000."

But, as the Associated Press reported on December 11, the U.S. currently has only 6,000 up-armored Humvees in Iraq, according to military spokesman Sergeant Eric Grill. In a December 9 "Special Defense Department Briefing on Armored Vehicles," Lieutenant General R. Steven Whitcomb noted that in addition to the 6,000 "level one" up-armored Humvees in Iraq, the military has also deployed about 10,000 "level two" vehicles with add-on armor kits. As The Detroit News reported on December 13, the U.S. Air Force has stated that add-on kits cause an "extremely poor ride due to the excess strain on the shocks," and that soldiers are therefore less safe in such vehicles because, in the News' words, they are "jostled so much that their protective gear isn't enough to keep them safe in a vehicle that doesn't have the same energy-absorbing padding features as a passenger vehicle." Similarly, the AP noted that add-on kits are a "second choice for troops" compared to the "most coveted" up-armored vehicles.

As CNN documented on December 10, the 6,000 up-armored Humvees in Iraq are "2,100 short of the military's goal."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
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