We actually were informed that the Humvees that had “proper” armor kits installed would remain in-country for the next rotation to use. Naturally, these were the up-armor kits that had been supplied to the high-up officers. In other words, the people that generally did not go outside the wire and perform escort missions, or neighborhood patrols, or other dangerous tasks. No, most of them stayed in the camp, in air-conditioned T.O.Cs (Tactical Operations Centers) and went outside on rare occasions. Those of us that ran missions mostly had to make do with the slabs of scrap metal armor, plywood and sandbags (the ones that wore out our tires and strained the suspension so much).
While I am over-exaggerating the disparity in armor displayed here, the feeling that the troops had to make do with “whatever” was hard to escape. The truth is, there weren’t very many armor kits to go around, so the officers got them, instead of forcing people to select which soldiers on patrol got the “good” armor, and which soldiers on patrol had to do with the “hillbilly” stuff. The fault for this, as far as I am concerned, lay with the topmost political decision makers, who did not fully prepare for the war or bother to equip their troops, even though plans to do “something” in Iraq had been circulating for a long time.
In the long run, the armor situation prompted the development of the MRAP vehicle class: Mine-Resistant/Ambush Protected vehicles with high center-of-gravity and V-shaped hulls. The MRAPs got developed and fielded in about a year, so had they chosen to act quickly to get us proper vehicles, they could have– and they probably could have gotten more “proper” kits to us even faster.