8 years ago
With the road infrastructure and the relatively stable terrain in Iraq, MRAPS have been a huge success in protection against IEDs. They do have their difficulties with low hanging power lines and therefore some limitations in highly urban settings, but this is area in which dismounted patrols must be used anyway to contact the population. But with the undulations in the terrain in Afghanistan, as reported in June, the MRAPs are having some problems due to their high center of gravity.
Three Green Berets drowned Saturday when their Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle rolled into a river in Afghanistan. The deaths come amid growing concerns about the threat of catastrophic rollovers in the military’s silver bullet solution to improvised explosive devices.
Two military reports issued in June indicate growing problems associated with the MRAPs’ potential for rollover — as well as electrocution, when the vehicle snags low-hanging power lines — and an emerging threat from the vehicle’s glass dissolving into a cancer-causing powder when struck with explosively formed projectiles.
Saturday’s accident occurred in volatile Kandahar province and killed three members of Company A, 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to a Defense Department statement.
Anticipating a more active role on Afghanistan, the Marine Corps is busy investigating alternative solutions.
With plans to redeploy more Marines to Afghanistan later this fall, companies like General Dynamics Corp. and Force Protection Inc. are being asked to re-engineer mine-resistant vehicles that can traverse the war-ravaged country’s mountainous terrain while offering even greater protection.
High altitudes, dispersed battalions and restricted travel zones are among the serious challenges facing the service as it weighs the resources needed to perform its missions in Afghanistan where violence has escalated, senior Marine Corps officials told defense industry executives at the service’s annual expo Thursday.
Senior Marine Corps officials are concerned the current MRAPS are ill-equipped to handle the rocky terrain in Afghanistan, and are too heavy to easily transport to areas where they are needed.
“It’s OK in Iraq, but it’s not OK in Afghanistan,” said Dillon. “It’s got to have off-road capability and all the survivability.”
Blasts from roadside bombs are the leading cause of combat deaths and injuries in Iraq and have become a growing threat in Afghanistan, but it’s unclear whether the Marine Corps will buy more of the same vehicles, said Dillon. Currently, there are more than 900 MRAPs in Afghanistan, and close to 8,000 in Iraq. To date, the Pentagon has spent $22.4 billion on the program.
Instead, the service hopes to approve a hybrid armored vehicle that would provide the same type of protection as an MRAP, but would be more agile and provide improved maneuverability, Marine Corps officials said.
It’s more than just rollover concerns that are driving this innovation. It is maneuverability, off road terrain capabilities and transportability. The Marines may not be pursuing the hottest next-gen warrior trappings such as the exoskeleton, but when it comes to realistic battle space needs and possibilities, they have always been on top of their game. Let’s hope that this program is off to a good and quick start. Perhaps some representative of General Dynamics can contact The Captain’s Journal to give an update on the progress and goals.