Ah, the bitter fruits of the Bush Administration continue to fall on our fair and pleasant land.
The Vermont State Police (VSP) is one of over 160 law enforcement agencies across the nation that recently acquired an armored tactical vehicle through the Defense Department’s national military surplus program. …This particular vehicle is a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle; that can provide lifesaving support to local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies across the state during armed confrontations or other critical incidents.
Well, it’s hard to be against “lifesaving support,” but really: does Vermont need a vehicle designed to resist land mines and foil ambushes? Under what scenario does VSP expect to encounter land mines? Did I miss the declaration of World War V?
These are pretty fearsome battle-wagons. The Los Angeles Times describes them as “V-hulled 16-ton armored behemoths.” At the height of the Iran and Afghanistan quagmires, the Pentagon rush-ordered some 27,000 of the things. And they saved a lot of lives.
But as our foreign entanglements wind down, we’ve suddenly got a behemoth surplus. In fact, over in Afghanistan, the military is turning a couple thousand of ’em into scrap. It’s cheaper than shipping them home. And besides, we’ve got too many of the damn things here, so the Pentagon is offering them to local law enforcement for pennies on the dollar.
The cost to the VSP includes the initial transportation of the vehicle from Mississippi, which was under $8000; along with the cost of necessary customization such as, lights, painting; and vehicle maintenance. …The MRAP is not yet operational; pending the completion of customization and maintenance.
Such a deal.
We get a slightly used, million-dollar assault vehicle for a few thousand bucks. Plus the unspecified cost of rendering it “operational.” Plus the ongoing “maintenance” of a vehicle designed to thwart land mines and ambushes.
And Lord knows, we’ve got way too many land mines and ambushes in Vermont.
The State Police say the MRAP is “similar to the Bearcat tactical vehicle…which is housed at the Williston Barracks.” (The Bearcat was purchased with a Homeland Security grant. Those funds have been doled out generously to just about any police agency that gets a hard-on for up-armor.) The New Toy will be based in Windsor, from whence it will be rapidly deployable to your southern Vermont war zones.
My problem with all of this — aside from once again showcasing the utter waste of the Bush Wars — is that when you acquire a capability, you start looking for reasons to use it. Like, for instance, a 2012 incident that turned a tiny Vermont town into a demented Steven Seagal wet dream:
A summer scene befitting a Norman Rockwell portrait was spoiled Monday morning when more than a dozen police cruisers, an armored vehicle and the big box truck that houses Vermont’s equivalent of a S.W.A.T. team set up shop in Washington to take what proved to be one unarmed man into custody.
Police described the operation as a “success,” which, yeah, but did the good people of Washington (population 1,047) really need or want a full-on invasion by a fleet of cop cars plus an up-armored war machine?
Well, now we’re gonna have two war machines in the VSP’s arsenal. And, whether or not we’ve got any minefields or armed terrorist gangs roaming our countryside, the cops will be looking for reasons to use their new toys.
So whatever you do, don’t start any trouble.