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Thursday, May 05, 2005

Where the Buffalo Roam 

Zemblan patriot and ordnance-hound J.T.H. yesterday followed a Cursor link to an AP story entitled "Insurgents Find New Ways to Bedevil U.S. in Iraq," which contains the following text:
One innovation the U.S. military has used in the Baghdad area in recent weeks is a heavily armored vehicle dubbed the "Buffalo." It has a V-shaped undercarriage to minimize the effect of an explosive charge, as well as small blast-proof windows. An attached mechanical arm is maneuvered by the six-man crew to check out suspected roadside bombs and, when confirmed, holds them harmless until a bomb disposal team can reach the site and disarm them.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld got a firsthand look at a Buffalo when he visited Baghdad last month. Army Col. Jim Brooks told him that in its three months of use, the Buffalo had found 75 roadside bombs.
A Defense Update profile of the Buffalo EOD mentions that it "follows the South African monocoque capsule protection concept." With that new information, J.T.H. continued his data-mining and came across this:
One of the latest additions to the U.S. Army's emerging counterinsurgency arsenal traces its origins to the struggles against earlier insurgencies on the African continent.

Manufactured by Force Protection, Inc., the Buffalo is a new, heavyweight armored wheeled vehicle, designed principally for land mine and route clearance operations, that is now being applied in a wide variety of Army force protection activities.

"Our company was founded in the mid-1990s by an ex-Rhodesian Special Forces officer named Garth Barrett, who had had a lot of experience working with the South African forces during the 1970s and 1980s," explained Scott R. Ervin, interim Chief Executive Officer for Force Protection, Inc. "During that time, the South African Republic was facing a lot of insurgent action, particularly mine and IED-type booby traps and other threats used by insurgency forces."

In response to these insurgency threats, the South African government tasked CSIR, that country's central scientific research and development resource, to conduct basic research and practical development on vehicles that could safely transport troops through a threat array of booby traps, land mines, IEDs, sniper fire and ambush attacks.
We needn't tell you what kind of insurgency the South African government was facing during the 70's and 80's, nor elaborate on the unfortunate parallels to our current situation in Iraq. Writes J.T.H.: "We're fighting a colonial war, so let's use the equipment of the experts! Might as well get rid of all those new Strykers (turns out they were named for some actual soldiers but with an obvious attempt at getting the Heavy Metal types to enlist) and go for Buffalos, since after all we're looking at endless colonial wars. Except, of course, for China."

VOCABULARY CORNER: The hydraulic arm of the Buffalo, which incorporates a video camera and a forklift, is known as a "spork."

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