Military Sets Sights On At Least 15,000 MRAPs

December 20th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Military Sets Sights On At Least 15,000 MRAPs

USA Today
December 20, 2007
Pg. 10
Troops at Risk -- IEDs in Iraq
By Tom Vanden Brook, USA Today
WASHINGTON The Pentagon remains committed to buying at least 15,000 new armored vehicles to withstand roadside bombs and may seek more based on requests from commanders in Afghanistan, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.
The Pentagon currently plans to procure at least 15,374 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Morrell said. It has ordered almost 12,000 MRAPs to date, including orders announced Tuesday for 3,100 with a total value of about $2.7 billion.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander in Iraq, said recently that, because of improving security conditions, forces there might need fewer MRAPs than earlier anticipated. Commanders have said since the inception of the MRAP program that they would revise needs based on battlefield conditions.
Last month, Marine Corps Commandant James Conway said the Marines would cut their projected needs from 3,700 MRAPs to 2,300.
Demand for more MRAPs could come from elsewhere, Morrell told reporters at a Pentagon news conference.
"I can tell you just this week, for example, that the commanders in Afghanistan are of the mind that perhaps they would like more in Afghanistan than they have originally requested," he said.
Morrell estimated that the need in Afghanistan could increase from about 500 to 600 MRAPs.
The MRAP, with its raised chassis and V-shaped hull, disperses the force of explosions better than the Humvee, the workhorse vehicle of the military.
However, MRAPs are heavier and less nimble than Humvees. That lack of mobility can limit their use in Afghanistan's steep, rugged terrain. Still, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have taken a heavy toll on U.S. troops there, and commanders are asking for more MRAPs, Morrell said.
"Commanders there clearly believe that there is use for these vehicles in numbers even above and beyond what they originally thought were necessary," he said. "So, despite whatever limitations there might be on the vehicles, they are proving to be extraordinarily valuable, lifesaving, and the commanders in Afghanistan seem to want more of them."
Tuesday's order for 3,100 MRAPs included an order for second-generation vehicles capable of withstanding explosively formed penetrators, the most lethal IEDs. The Pentagon's MRAP office will pay $18 million for further testing of the Bull, a thickly armored vehicle.
The Pentagon anticipates meeting its goal of fielding 1,525 MRAPs in Iraq by Dec. 20, Morrell said.

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