Many years ago, the M-113 series of Armored Personnel Carriers were still mainstays in some Active Duty units. That was the case when I went to my first duty station, even though the (then-new) M2 Bradley was being put into service throughout the Army. Even then, the M-113 was “old”. When I went to Iraq in 2004, the M-113 was still the primary combat transport of Army Reserve Combat Engineers– by then, the design had been 40+ years in service. True, most of the vehicles being used today were built recently, but the design had remained more or less as it was originally designed.
When I was a young Private, and sent to Germany for an exercise very similar to the parameters I’ve set up for this story, I left M-113s behind and hoped for an opportunity to “try out” the new M2 Bradleys that were posted in the area for American use. Of course, it didn’t occur to me at the time that they would not give us new vehicles that we weren’t trained on; I just wanted something new and “cool”. Should Joe Rock have known better? Was it silly to think that the 213th Engineers would be given new vehicles? Perhaps– but in his defense, I’d say it was worth a thought, since who would spend the money to keep incredibly obsolete vehicles in peak readiness after all those years?