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M113 APC in Iraq

Task Force 1-63 Heavy Reaction Company (HRC) and Medium Reaction Company (MRC) from the 1st Infantry Division deployed completely by air into northern Iraq in Spring 2003 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The HRC and the MRC equated to a battalion with more than 200 personnel, 5 M181 tanks, 5 M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicles, 10 M113 armored personnel carriers, 4 M1064 mortar carriers, 1 M88 tank recovery vehicle, a scout platoon, a Military Police platoon, and a combat service support force enhancement module (CSSFEM). These heavy forces were critical to back up the light infantry operations in northern Iraq.

One 4th Infantry Division soldier was killed and one wounded when the M-113 armored personnel carrier they were riding in struck an explosive device near the town of Ad Dwar at approximately 6:30 a.m. on 13 August 2003. Specialist Dennis Morgan, 22 of Valentine, Neb., died 16 April 2004 when an improvised explosive device exploded near his M-113 armored personnel carrier. Morgan was manning a squad automatic weapon while providing security during route clearing operations in Iraq.

President George W. Bush honored Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith by presenting his family the Medal of Honor on 04 April 2005, the second anniversary of his courageous actions during the Battle of Baghdad Airport. Smith was the first to receive the military's highest award for actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In action near the Baghdad Airport April 4, 2003, Smith, a Soldier in Company B, 11th Engineer Battalion, working with units of the 3rd Infantry Division, was tasked to build a compound to hold enemy prisoners, when his small force came under attack by more than 100 enemies. Smith threw two grenades and fired rocket launchers at the enemy before manning a .50-caliber machine gun on an M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier to protect his troops. While engaging an enemy attacking from three sides, Smith fired more than 300 rounds from the machine gun before being killed. He prevented the enemy from overtaking his unit's position, protected his Task Force's flank, and defended the lives of more than 100 Soldiers, according to his award citation.

The Bradley Armored Fighting Vehicles and M113 armored personnel carriers of the 2nd "Ghost" Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 39th Brigade Combat Team (attached), 1st Cav. Div., rolled out of Assembly Area Otter, just outside Fallujah, to begin the assault on the city the evening of 08 November 2004. Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division descended in droves and pushed their way into Fallujah securing the city, and spearheading the mission for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

In December 2004 Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO) asked the Pentagon to examine the possibility of using existing M-113 armored personnel carriers to provide force protection while troops await the delivery of additional up-armored humvees. In a letter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Skelton noted that during the Vietnam War, the M -113, in its Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle (ACAV) configuration, proved itself an especially effective vehicle for close combat in jungles against enemy forces armed with RPGs and AK-47 rifles.

"I understand that the M -113 may not provide the same level of protection as some other armored vehicles currently in use, but they certainly provide better protection than soft-skinned vehicles. Moreover, I believe that the M-113 chassis is robust enough to easily accommodate the additional weight of supplemental armor kits, whereas the HMMWV struggles under the burden and it is causing significant maintenance issues. As you know, broken-down up-armored HMMWVs provide no protection at all," wrote Skelton.

Skelton inquired about reports indicating that seven hundred M -113 series vehicles may already be prepositioned in Kuwait. "I know you share my concern that we provide our fighting men and women with the very best equipment available. While we await the delivery of additional up-armored HMMWVs, I would like you to revisit the possibility of using the M -113s the Army already has on hand as a means to provide them additional mobile protection," wrote Skelton.

In January 2005 it was reported that the US Army would send more than 700 newly reinforced armored personnel carriers to Iraq to boost troop protection. The Army planned on spending $84 million to add armor to a total of 734 M-113/A3s and M-577s armored personnel carriers. This would give them greater ballistic protection than the thousands of soft-skinned Humvees in use in Iraq.

The M113s upgrades include hardened steel side armor, a "slat armor" cage bolted to the side armor, and anti-mine armor on the bottom, as well as a new transparent, bulletproof gun shield on the top that greatly improves the gunners' vision. The M577 will get only slat armor and anti-mine armor, since adding steel armor to the high sides would make the vehicle unstable and more liable to roll over. The slat-type armor is a metal cage that detonates RPGs before they reach the vehicle's hull. Similar slat armor was previously added to the Stryker vehicle.

On 14 February 2005 the White House submitted a request for fiscal year 2005 supplemental appropriations totaling $81.9 billion to fund ongoing military operations in the War on Terror, reconstruction activities in Afghanistan, tsunami relief and reconstruction, and other purposes. This request would provide the Army $2.4 billion, to include support Army Modularity by upgrading M1 Abrams tanks, converting M2/M3 Bradley armored personnel carriers to the A3 version, adding armor and associated upgrades to M113 personnel carriers, and upgrading M88 armored recovery vehicles to the A2 improved version.

In early 2005 the 557th RED HORSE Squadron built an add-on-armor facility by refurbishing an old Iraqi military industrial area. This facility is used to vastly improve the armoring on M-113 armored personnel carriers. This project was critical to protecting American Airmen and Soldiers from ever increasing and more powerful improvised explosive devices and insurgent attacks.



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