American Forces Press Service
Feb. 20, 2009 - The U.S. military fielded its 10,000th mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle in Iraq today during a ceremony on Camp Liberty, just 22 months after it was introduced into the theater of operations. Servicemembers and civilians from across Victory Base Complex gathered among rows of MRAPs at the largest fielding site in Iraq to acknowledge the success the vehicle has had in protecting thousands of troops from blasts caused by roadside bombs.
"This is a historic day that represents the enduring power of our military industrial base," Army Lt. Col. Ron Fizer, commander of the 402nd Field Support Brigade, said. "This type of effort has been indicative of America's manufacturing capability, but it has not been demonstrated in such a fashion since World War II.
"The teamwork demonstrated through the combined efforts of military, civilians, and contractors ... has been exceptional," he continued. "This has set a new standard for the development, fielding and sustainment of capabilities required by our warriors for today's battlefield and future conflicts."
The first MRAP was fielded in Iraq in April 2007. Since then, more than 11,700 vehicles have been fielded across the U.S. Central Command area of operations. In Iraq alone, this marks the 10,000th vehicle fielded and more than 22,000 personnel trained.
"MRAPs save lives every time they go out," Army Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, commander of the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Brigade, said at the ceremony.
Lally shared an instance in which three soldiers in his unit walked away uninjured when an improvised explosive device damaged the entire front half of their vehicle.
"The whole front of the MRAP was destroyed, and all three people walked out the back with no injuries," Lally said.
Army Lt. Col. Greg Rawlings, chief of the force management division in Multinational Corps Iraq Operations, was an honored guest at the ceremony for his role in the distribution of MRAPs to Army units throughout Iraq.
Rawlings was recognized and applauded for building distribution plans for the dispersal of new equipment based on unit requirements and the threat in certain areas of the country.
"I'm basically the guy who doles [MRAPs] out," Rawlings said. "I give 50 to this unit and 50 to that unit, based on who needs them most."
Rawlings mentioned that adding armor as a result of the threat of what the military calls "explosively formed projectiles" – roadside bombs made from shaped charges designed to pierce conventional armored vehicles -- is an example of changes based on his assessments.
In its 22 months of use in Iraq, the MRAP has undergone numerous modifications that have increased troops' confidence in theist ability to keep them safe. The program continues to adapt the vehicles even as they are produced and fielded, with improvements such as upgraded armor, better suspension systems, improved seats, safety harnesses, and gunner restraints and improved night driving capability. At the same time, they have maintained a 95-percent operational readiness rate.
"My fellow soldiers and I feel very confident in [the MRAP's] ability to contain an IED blast," said Army Pfc. Derek Sharp, who arrived in Iraq in early December as part of the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Lally presented Sharp with a ceremonial key and recognized him as the operator of the 10,000th MRAP in Iraq.
Troops know when they go "outside the wire" they're in the best-protected vehicle with which they can be provided, Lally said.
"They know they'll get from Point A to Point B, and it's not going to break down on them," he said. "The MRAP team has done a phenomenal job over here. There was a lot of training that went on here for our operators, maintainers and crews to safely and effectively operate this piece of equipment."
Spencer Sims, the Camp Liberty fielding site's lead manager, said said soldiers talk about the safety the MRAPs provide.
"I had a couple of soldiers that came in and were getting some work done on their vehicle," he said, "and they said they had been hit seven times with IEDs, and that very next week they were going on leave. I think it's a great testament to the whole team involved."
(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)