By Army Pfc. Bailey Jester
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 22, 2009 - Iraqi troops in northeastern Baghdad have a new weapon in their arsenal, thanks to U.S. soldiers here. Soldiers from 115th "Muleskinner" Brigade Support Battalion of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team delivered five up-armored Ford F-350 trucks to the 11th Iraqi Army Division at Joint Security Station Rasheed here June 19.
The upgraded trucks offer significant protection and maneuverability for Iraqi Staff Maj. Gen. Mizher Shaher Lateef and his men to move about in his area of operations, said Army Capt. Peter Bogart, the brigade's provost marshal. "It was a project that highlights the partnership we have with the [Iraqi army]," Army Maj. Michele Reid, the battalion's executive officer, added.
Soldiers on Mizher's personal security detachment will use the trucks to escort the general during his daily operations. The detachment's officer in charge will be held responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicles.
Soldiers from the 115th BSB's B Company armored the trucks by increasing the amount of protective layers inside and outside the vehicles. After 37 days and about 60 work hours per truck, the trucks were complete and ready for delivery to Mizher.
"The soldiers in the service and recovery shop worked extremely hard on these trucks," said Army Chief Warrant Officer Staceyann McNish, the battalion's service and recovery chief. "They spent numerous manhours perfecting the construction of these turrets and gunner's boxes. The end result was breathtaking."
Other than determining the best way to complete the armor, the project went quite smoothly, Reid said. "We did have to consider the added weight of Kevlar and metal to how it would affect the trucks," she explained, "along with considering road conditions."
The beds of the trucks now contain a gunner's box made of armor plating and Kevlar for maximum protection while on patrols. The seats are lined with Kevlar and were re-upholstered to cover it.
"We are very grateful to the United States military for all their help," said 2nd Lt. Salem Ibrahim, a platoon leader for the 11th Iraqi Army Infantry Division. "It has been a great opportunity to work this closely with the coalition forces."
(Army Pfc. Bailey Jester serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)