Get a Tank in Your Garage — Free!
Policy + Politics

Get a Tank in Your Garage — Free!

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In 2007, following scores of American soldiers being killed by roadside bombs in Iraq while driving vehicles known as Cougars, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ordered thousands of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. The mini tanks, better known as MRAPS, are specifically designed to withstand the blast from an improvised explosive device.

MRAPs are more than Ford-tough: They are steel beasts. They weigh 20 tons or more. They have a gun turret that can support a 50-caliber, radios and bomb jamming devices. Their armor is so thick that once they were put into use in Iraq, only 8 soldiers died from roadside bombs. In Cougars, more than 300 had been killed.

Related: U.S. Military Scrapping Billions Worth of Gear in Afghanistan

And they’re coming to a street near you.

Because the Pentagon doesn’t plan on fighting any big ground wars any time soon, there isn’t a lot of need for the $500,000-a-piece MRAPs. The Pentagon has scrapped many of the vehicles in Afghanistan, but 13,000 of those are returning home and are going to be given to law enforcement for no charge.

Cops from around the country have been coy about how they plan to use the vehicles. A report in the Wall Street Journal last month said that the Ohio State police department has acquired one, but refused to comment on why it wanted one.

This might be a troubling development for Ohio State students, who are notoriously hard partiers. Each year, during the weeks when OSU plays rivals Michigan, thousands of students descend on Mirror Lake to jump in, party and engage in typical college revelry. There’s a corresponding increase in emergency room visits and arrests.

Related: The Militarization of U.S. Police Forces

The university has tried and failed to keep students away from the lake. They now have a 20-ton, bomb-resistant, bullet-spewing, radio-jamming, disincentive.

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