Thursday, July 7, 2011
MRAP’s role critical in Iraq, Afghanistan
Mississippi is playing an important role in supplying the large, heavily-armored vehicles that are responsible for safeguarding our troops from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). In a recent interview, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said “thousands of lives” have been saved because of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) combat trucks being utilized in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The MRAP has proven effective at getting our troops to the fight and protecting them while there. Fortunately, production of these vehicles was made a priority, and the Navistar plant in West Point has helped answer the call. Now, 27,000 MRAPs are in use around the globe.
Protecting Our Troops
IEDs remain a constant threat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inexpensive to produce, they can cause massive amounts of damage to a Humvee because of its flat bottom.
To combat the effects of IEDs, engineers and designers turned to a raised V-shaped hull. In the event of a detonation, the hull directs the blast up and away from passengers. MRAPs can weigh 20 tons or more with armor, which helps protect the troops inside the vehicle. In addition, the air systems are built to withstand nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks.
Each of these design components work together to deflect an explosion. According to some studies, deaths from IEDs decreased by 60 percent as use of MRAPs increased, helping to turn the tide of the fighting in Iraq and more recently in Afghanistan. MRAPs perform a host of functions from troop transport and patrols to serving as ambulances. In both countries, the success of the vehicle was quickly evident, thwarting al-Qaeda ambushes.
MRAP Production in Mississippi
In 2007, Navistar converted a former industrial boiler facility in West Point for MRAP assembly. Now, Mississippians work every day to construct these vehicles, thereby helping save the lives of American troops.
That is an amazing responsibility, and one that speaks volumes about the 900 Navistar employees in West Point. From vehicle design to delivery, no one can match the quality and quantity of production in this facility. Of all the important products Mississippi workers manufacture, none is more important than these life-saving vehicles.
Meeting Our Troops’ Needs
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I remain committed to ensuring our troops have the equipment they need to accomplish the difficult mission they face on a daily basis. The tasks are ever changing, so their needs will change too. It is essential that our defense sector quickly respond to meet new requirements.
While we celebrate our nation’s independence this week, the brave men and women of our Armed Forces will be defending Americans around the world. Many of them will be using the MRAP.
As Secretary Gates said, “another value not to be underestimated is the impact on the morale of the troops – not only in knowing they can survive these attacks but that the folks back home are willing to do whatever it takes to protect them.”
Challenges will continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we must stay vigilant against these threats. Mississippians will proudly continue to produce the equipment that our troops require. That includes the MRAP.
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