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JPO MRAP, 4-401st AFSB install upgrades to increase Soldier survivability during IED attack

May 23, 2013
By Sharonda Pearson, 401st AFSB Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- With every step and mile traveled, Soldiers in Afghanistan face the threat of improvised explosive devices. To combat the threat Joint Program Office Mine Resistant Ambush Protected -- Operation Enduring Freedom, JPO MRAP-OEF, is equipping more than 1000 MaxxPro Dash ISS equipped vehicles with MaxxPro Survivability Upgrade, MSU, kits to increase Warfighter survivability through an IED blast event.

The 4th Battalion, 401st Army Field Support Brigade is responsible for overseeing the installation of approximately 257 kits, which are designed to increase Soldier survivability on the battlefield by enhancing the underbody blast protection of the MaxxPro Dash vehicles to better defeat a wide range of emerging threats in Afghanistan.

'We have a dedicated team of contractors under Joint Program Office MRAP performing the upgrades. The 4th Battalion, 401st AFSB Quality Assurance personnel inspect every vehicle as it comes off the production line ensuring that the Soldiers are receiving a safe and fully mission capable upgraded vehicle,' said Lt. Col. Stanley Sliwinski, 4-401st AFSB battalion commander.

The blast mitigating upgrades that are installed as part of the MSU drastically decrease the impact of IEDs, increasing survivability by 75 percent with four times the blast protection, and are the result of hard lessons learned after more than a decade at war.

'We've taken the lessons learned from the number of IED attacks suffered by our forces during our time in Afghanistan, and engineered innovative solutions to make the vehicle and the Soldiers inside less vulnerable and susceptible to injury,' said Craig Schmehl, JPO MRAP Kandahar Airfield acting deputy site lead.

'The upgrades include improved front and rear Jankel seats with front seat towers and rear seat brackets, a Transmission Retention Bracket, a Punisher, interior and exterior cab seam welding, front and rear Skydex Blast Mats, Crew Ripple Floors, seam plates, rear wall retention brackets and upgraded rear suspension springs,' he added.

After the upgrades are complete, a 10-level operator Preventive Maintenance Checks and Service is completed by AC-First and reviewed by 4-401st AFSB Quality Assurance specialists to ensure the vehicle is Fully Mission Capable.

'We then take possession of the vehicle, perform all of the government furnished equipment installation, and then our Ready for Issue section notifies the unit to swap out their non-MSU vehicle for an MSU. Our RPAT yard then retrogrades the non-MSU vehicle back to CONUS depot. It truly is a team effort between JPO MRAP and 4-401st to make this mission a success and put life saving equipment into the hands of the Warfighter,' Sliwinski said.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Walker, the 4-401st AFSBn battalion maintenance technician, elaborated on the process.

'Once the vehicle is deemed fully mission capable, I then authorize the vehicle to be moved to CECOM,' Walker said. 'The two main shops Government Furnished Equipment and Counter RCIED Electronic Warfare work together to install the GFE and CREW equipment in the MRAP. The Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station, or CROWS, trucks also gets the Boomerang System installed, which changes the system to the highly desired Vanguard system. If a unit requests a mine roller, then the truck is taken to Product Manager Assured Mobility Systems to have the mine roller bracket installed,' he added.

The final step is to get the upgraded vehicle back into the hands of the individuals who need it most: the Warfighter.

'The Soldiers that come here to receive MSU vehicles are running missions outside the wire. Knowing that we provide them with equipment that increases their chance of survivability is gratifying,' said Staff Sgt. Tiffany Schladweiler, who coordinates the appointment and executes the issue of the MSU vehicles to the Warfighter.

'The best part of my job is being able to have face time with the Warfighter, and being able to help them with whatever it is that they need in order to safely and successfully complete their missions. I feel very fortunate to be in a position that allows me to interact directly with the Warfighter and to see how our efforts directly contribute to overall mission success,' Schladweiler added.

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