Military Maintains Confidence In MRAP Following First Reported Death

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
Defense Daily
January 29, 2008
Pg. 1
By Geoff Fein
A week following the first death of a soldier in an Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle in Iraq, the Pentagon continues to have confidence in the vehicle's ability to protect troops, and plans to push to get as many MRAPs into theater as fast as possible, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
That incident, which involved an improvised explosive device (IED) attack on an MRAP, is still under investigation. What is in question is whether the soldier, who is believed to have been the vehicle's gunner, died as a direct result of the IED blast or was killed when the MRAP rolled over, Adm. Mike Mullen told a small group of reporters on his plane traveling to Washington after attending the christening of the Navy's newest destroyer, the USS George Dewey (DDG-105), at Northrop Grumman [NOC] Ship Systems' Ingalls shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss.
"First of all, the specific incident where one soldier died, [we're] not exactly sure how he died. [The] early discussions...[it's] possible he got crushed. The other three individuals in the MRAP lived," Mullen said. "I have a great deal of confidence in the MRAP and the quality, and I fully expect we will continue to push as many MRAPs into theater as rapidly as we can."
Unlike the more commonly used Up Armored Humvee, the MRAP is designed with a V-shaped hull to deflect an IED blast away from the vehicle.
Mullen praised the companies who are working to build the MRAP fleets and rapidly get them to theater.
The companies include: International Military and Government LLC (IMG), BAE Systems, Force Protection Industries, Inc., [FRPT] and General Dynamics [GD], which has partnered with Force Protection to create Force Dynamics LLC, to share in the production and program management of MRAP contracts (Defense Daily, July 2).
Space and Naval Warfare Systems (SPAWAR) in South Carolina is the government facility where the military is installing communications packages customized for each service (Defense Daily, Nov. 13).
Mullen said that since the MRAP's introduction in Iraq, only one soldier has died from an IED attack on the vehicle.
"The statistics so far, the number of incidents--Gen. [David] Petraeus [commander U.S. forces in Iraq] said the other day there have been 12 that had incidents," although Mullen noted that figure could be off by a few. "This is the only soldier that has died, and it's a great tragedy when we lose one."
Though the first fatality might prompt concerns about the vehicles' ability to protect troops, Mullen said he is confident in the MRAP.
"That the enemy will adapt to changes we make is a given, we understand that, and that will continue to evolve," he said "I don't think there is any perfect answer for every situation. We are in a war. It's very dangerous and tragically people are still in that danger and they are going to get killed. But I will say this, both the violence level and death rate, the number of deaths, are down dramatically.
"We've got a lot of confidence in what we are doing with respect to MRAP. I have received feedback from in theater, and it has saved an enormous number of lives already and that is what is really important about what MRAP is doing," Mullen added.
Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who was at the Dewey christening, said that while everything being done in Iraq, in regard to equipment, needs to be reviewed and improved upon everyday, the MRAP has demonstrated its ability to protect troops.
"The fact of the matter is, the MRAP is a heck of a lot better than a Humvee," he told Defense Daily at the christening.
Two weeks ago, Taylor was visiting with injured South Carolina National Guard troops returning to Andrews AFB, Md. "I asked them what would they rather have been in? 'Absolutely an MRAP,'" Taylor said the troops told him.
"Again, we lost a disproportionate number of causalities in Humvees from under body explosions. [The MRAP] is doing the job it is supposed to do. Do we need to work to make it better everyday? Absolutely," he said.
Taylor noted he will be heading to SPAWAR this week to make sure that is happening.
"As we learn, we get better, and we continue to provide the troops serving our nation the very best," he added.