Civilian Accuses Marine Corps Bureaucrats of Delaying MRAP Shipments… Causing Soldier Deaths

Last week civilian employee Franz Gayl accused Marine Corps bureaucrats of “gross mismanagement” that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks for more than two years in a paper that contained his personal views and opinions. Franz Gayl has clashed with his superiors in the past and even filed for whistle-blower protection last year. Today the Marines Corps announced that they would investigate Gayl’s accusations.
Richard Lardner at the AP reported today:

The Marine Corps has asked the Pentagon’s inspector general to examine allegations that a nearly two-year delay in the fielding of blast-resistant vehicles led to hundreds of combat casualties in Iraq.

In a Jan. 22 internal report, Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine Corps official, accused the service of “gross mismanagement” that delayed deliveries of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected trucks.

Gayl’s study, which reflected his own views, said cost was a driving factor in the decision to turn down a February 2005 “urgent” request from battlefield commanders for the so-called MRAPs.

Stateside authorities saw the hulking vehicles, which weigh up to 40 tons and can cost as much as a $1 million each, as a financial threat to programs aimed at developing lighter vehicles that were years from being fielded, charged Gayl, who prepared the study for the Marine Corps’ plans, policies and operations department.

Gayl, a retired Marine officer, is the science and technology adviser to Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski, who heads the department.

The Associated Press first reported on Gayl’s study Feb. 15. At that time, Gayl’s work had not been reviewed by his immediate supervisor, Col. David Wilkinson, Lapan said Monday.

Gayl has clashed with his superiors in the past and filed for whistle-blower protection last year. In his study, he recommended an inquiry be conducted to determine if any military or government employees are culpable for failing to rush critical gear to the troops.

“If the mass procurement and fielding of MRAPs had begun in 2005 in response to the known and acknowledged threats at that time, as the (Marine Corps) is doing today, hundreds of deaths and injuries could have been prevented,” Gayl said. “While the possibility of individual corruption remains undetermined, the existence of corrupted MRAP processes is likely, and worthy of (inspector general) investigation.”

…”There is no doubt MRAPs have saved many lives in horrendous (improvised explosive device) explosions, but to accuse the Marine Corps of knowingly and intentionally jeopardizing the safety of fellow Marines on the battlefield is a very serious charge,” Lisicki said.

The AP story was first reported last week by Richard Lardner at the AP who mischaracterized the opinion paper as an official Marine Corps paper. The article was so biased that the USMC Deputy Director of Public Affairs had to respond to the piece.
Blackfive reported on Friday that the Gayl’s study was just a list of personal views and opinions and not an official Marine Corp study:

Gayl’s opinion paper was not an official study according to the Marines. The USMC Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Colonel David Lapan, responds with an unprecedented letter to the President of the Associated Press to correctly attribute Gayl’s comments:

It is a rare occurrence when a letter of this nature must be sent to the president of a news organization, but the gravity of this situation warrants nothing less…

…A story on Friday Feb. 15, by AP journalist Richard Lardner, “Vehicle Delay Blamed for Marines’ Deaths,” micharacterized the nature of a paper written by a civilian employee of the Marine Corps regarding the procurement of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. The fact is the paper contained the personal views and opinions of the employee and was clearly marked as such. The reporter knew this fact yet opted to bury that vital detail in a the 18th paragraph of his story, after mischaracterizing the paper as a Marine Corps study 10 times prior to referring to the author’s disclaimer. Inaccurately implying the work was an official Marine Corps study, despite the facts, ensure the story received a lot of play and forced the Marine Corps to have to respond to numerous questions, from other news organizations, members of Congress and other groups, about the nature of the work and its conclusions…

We are adamant about our obligation to protect the public record. Our efforts in addressing this matter with the writer and his editors have yielded nothing. I ask that you take appropriate action to correct the record and hold AP reporters and editors to the organization’s stated high standards.

Blackfive continues:

The fact appears to be that AP reporter Richard Lardner and his editors have deliberately misquoted an opinion as an official study, only to admit that the story is based on personal opinion 18 paragraphs later. This has multiple implications. We already know that the AP will bend the truth to serve their biases, sensationalize a story, and publish an insurgents photos as unbiased reporting.

You can be sure this story will be used by Democrats to smear the military and the Bush Administration in the days ahead, regardless of the outcome of the investigation.

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