Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Vehicle Program
The Armed Forces Press Service reported on 26 November 2007, that at Camp Liberty in Iraq, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, became the first in Task Force Marne to receive the Army's new mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs.
They completed MRAP drivers training there on 8 November 2007 and would be returning to their respective bases with about 20 MRAPs. MRAP fielding would continue steadily, with a goal of having the entire task force outfitted by February, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jabari Williams, the 2nd BCT's noncommissioned officer in charge of MRAP fielding.
"It's a good opportunity for us," said Army Sgt. David Ipock. "Any time we get a new vehicle with more protection, it's a good thing."
Prior to the vehicles being handed over to the units for day-to-day use, the soldiers got five days of training on how to operate, drive and maintain the vehicles. The training included classroom instruction and on- and off-road driving. This training also introduced the soldiers to some new features the Humvee lacked, such as a pneumatic rear ramp and a shock-absorbing seating system with four-point seat belts.
"The bomb protection with the seats - I think that might help a lot," said Ipock. "Everything's just more advanced - the switches and gauges, things like that." Army Spc. Daniel Lopez also weighed in with what he liked about the new vehicle. "It's a big, new toy to replace the 1151 (Humvee) [the M1151 is one of a number of uparmored HMMWV variants developed in response to the IED threat] - a lot more room," he said. "I feel more secure in it than the 1151."
The training was designed to not only familiarize soldiers with the vehicles, but also build confidence by giving them the opportunity to drive the vehicles over steep hills and through tight turns. "It handles fairly well for a tall vehicle; as far as the suspension and handling, I was fairly impressed with it," said Army Staff Sgt. Steve Stutzman. "I went down a 60-degree hill and hit the brakes, nose first, and we just sat there - the vehicle has really good air brakes."
On 30 November 2007, the Marines reduced their MRAP requirement from 3,700 to approximately 2,300 vehicles. The Marines cited six factors in its decision:
- IED attacks were dramatically down over the preceding six months
- The relatively heavy MRAP cannot operate or pursue the enemy off-road, in confined areas, or across most bridges
- Reduced need to put Marines on high-threat roads through the use of persistent surveillance and airlift of supplies
- Counterinsurgency focus requires Marines dismount and interact closely with the local populace
- MRAPs associated with surge forces were no longer needed
- MRAP sustainment numbers were lower because of fewer than expected combat losses.
The Army was also expected to cut a number of MRAPs from its current 10,000-vehicle requirement, but had not, as of January 2008, publically committed to a specific requirement. The Army also cited decreasing casualties and IED attacks over the preceding six months, as well as the need to dismount and interact with the populace, as factors in reducing its original MRAP requirement.
According to US defense officials, 2,225 MRAPs were in service in Iraq and Afghanistan as of 22 January 2008, but only 45 of these were in operation in Afghanistan. Reports maintained that the United States would ship an additional 500 MRAPs to Afghanistan in the near future to support the additional 3,200 US troops that would be deployed to the region in the during early 2008.
As of January 2008, the DoD reportedly allocated the 3,126 MRAPS ordered as of December 18, 2007. The allocations were as follows:
- Army: 2,736
- Marine Corps: 121
- Navy: 181
- Air Force: 88
According to one report as of early May 2008, approximately 4,200 MRAPs had been deployed to Iraq, with an additional 1,200 in Kuwait awaiting delivery to Iraq, and 320 MRAPs had been delivered to Afghanistan. While the DoD was making a significant effort to deploy as many MRAPs into the theater as possible, some in Congress had noted the importance of also having MRAPs available at bases in the United States so that troops could train with these vehicles before deploying into combat with the MRAPs. To begin to address this issue, the Army subsequently purchased 60 MRAPs from the Navy and Marine Corps and was developing a plan to use these vehicles to train units in the United States before they deploy overseas.
In September 2008, the US Air Force reported that it expected to have delivered 10,000 MRAPs to the Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Areas of Responsibility by 25 September 2008.
In April 2009, members of the 46th Engineer Battalion were on a mission Baghdad, Iraq, in MRAPs when they were attacked by enemy personnel using RKG-3 anti-tank grenades. The grenades, featuring a shaped charge to defeat armor, hit the vehicles, but caused no fatalities.
In May 2009, members of 2-2nd Infantry on patrol in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan hit an improvised explosive device. The MRAP they were riding with had been equipped with a Self-Protection Adaptive Roller Kit. The roller kit was destroyed, but the MRAP sustained no damage and none of the vehicle's crew were injured.
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