Howdy, everyone. Sorry I haven’t kept in touch as often as I wanted to. With the holidays here, we’ve been VERY busy getting troops home for leave.
Recently, my team lost eight vehicles. The contract was ending and my unit decided not to renew it to save money. I’m all in favor of saving taxpayer money, but not at the expense of the mission. Frankly, I lost 2 more vehicles than I need to efficiently do my job. However, this vehicle situation is one I want to touch on.
Where I am located, there are NTVs (basically civilian SUVs) everywhere. It almost seems like there are more NTVs than there are personnel to drive them. These NTVs range from older, early 00s model Toyotas to current model year Land Cruisers. Vehicles range in price from about $500 to $1500 for a lease per month, depending on model and year.
My team of used to have about 14 of these, one of which was a bus, one was a pickup truck, and one was a minivan. The rest were various types of Toyota and Mitsubishi SUVs. We recently ended the contract on eight of them. The average cost of these vehicles was $950 per month. By ending this contract, we saved over $90,000!
Just on my FOB alone, there are easily 5,000 NTVs. Now, I don’t know how many are assigned to military units and how many are assigned to contractors and civilians. So, let’s just use a nice, conservative number of 1,000 belonging to military units. Assuming the average cost of $1000 per month per vehicle, we are spending $1 million per month JUST ON NTVs!! But, that isn’t what is most outrageous.
KAF is a central turn-in point for units that are leaving or upgrading equipment. As you may know, we no longer use HMMWV (humvees) outside the wire. We have been using the MRAP series of vehicles for a few years now. These vehicles are great and increase the survivability of our troops from small arms fire and IEDs. They are true lifesavers!
There are HMMWVs here on KAF that are just sitting in a yard collecting dust, but no one can have them issued because they aren’t on our MTOE. In other words, HMMWVs are authorized vehicles for units to use right now unless they bring them from home station. Our only options for FOB transportation are NTVs or the bulky MRAPs (which I don’t have, by the way).
When we lost our vehicles, I looked into getting HMMWVs to use for transportation and movement of personnel and equipment around the FOB. I was told that I couldn’t sign for any because we aren’t authorized them.
So, instead of just issuing troops who never go outside the wire – like me – free vehicles that are just sitting around, we pay $1000 per month per vehicle that we don’t need to. And this is just on THIS FOB. There are numerous FOBs where this is also the case and we’re wasting money on civilian vehicles when a free HMMWV would work just fine.
We are a nearly bankrupt nation and every department is trying to find ways to trim their belts. I think a good start would be to get rid of these NTV contracts and find a way to authorize troops to use HMMWVs for use on the FOBs only. It sickens me that we are wasting so much money needlessly. It also sickens me that I need vehicles for my mission but I can’t sign for a vehicle just sitting around doing nothing.
On the positive side, we haven’t had any indirect fire since 30 November. The weather has gotten pretty cold, dipping down into the low 30s overnight. The days are still quite pleasant hovering around 70. We come to the office all bundled up and by mid afternoon we’re already sweating!
Morale is high and our troops are doing great things here. With the holidays here, care packages have been flowing in. It’s humbling to be the recipient of such generosity. Someone even donated a Blu-Ray player to us to watch movies on when they heard that our PS2 was broken. Now, we’re just trying to get movies to play on it. Thankfully, it also plays regular DVDs.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. We will celebrate here with a special meal of canned eggnog, meats, cheeses and crackers. It’s a deployment tradition I’ve always followed. We’ll sit around drinking hot chocolate and apple cider and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas! Our tree even resembles that one! heh. Just kidding. We had a tree sent to us with lights and decorations.