I didn't understand this until today.
In some of the more recent wars the US has
lost fought, there has been a serious problem that people kept blowing them up using improvised explosive devices. To deal with this problem they built 'Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected' vehicles, or MRAPs. These are designed to make IEDs survivable, and they probably do so.
MRAPs weigh from approximately 14 to 18 tonnes and they're around 3 metres high. They cost an enormous amount of money: from $500,000 and $1,000,000 each. Finally they look like something out of Mad Max, which really helps give a good impression to the people you are
subjugating liberating. 'Yes, we're your friends, this is why we're turning up in this apocalyptic vehicle wearing mirror shades and armed to the teeth.'
But now there's a problem. When
the wars were eventually lost they eventually lost interest the wars were won, there were vast numbers of these things – tens of thousands1 – which now served no purpose. And of course the companies which were making them and maintaining them didn't want to lose that business either.
So they had a smart idea: they gave them to police forces. And of course, the police take them, because they were free, so why wouldn't you. So now, in the US, when there's a problem which requires the police, they turn up in a giant armoured vehicle spewing diesel fumes which has escaped from a dystopian future, out of which pour people wearing mirror shades and armed to the teeth, who have clearly escaped from the same dystopia and who immediately set about turning your world into theirs.
This is such a good idea.
The total programme cost was something like $50 billion, so there were perhaps 50,000 to 100,000 of them made. ↩