News / Asia

For US Troops, New Armored Vehicle is Benefit, Burden

The U.S. Army's new M-ATV vehicle in Afghanistan
The U.S. Army's new M-ATV vehicle in Afghanistan

Multimedia

TEXT SIZE - +
David Axe

Explosive Devices have accounted for around 800 of the roughly 1,100 U.S. combat deaths in Afghanistan. To counter these increasingly-lethal bombs, the U.S. military is spending billions of dollars on blast-resistant vehicles specially tailored for Afghan terrain. But in addition to their high cost, the complex new vehicles can be a logistical burden.

In Dangam district, eastern Afghanistan, the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade is on its way to a meeting with district officials. To reach the meeting, the soldiers must cross a wide riverbed.  Previously, this would have been a problem.

On several occasions, the Taliban have ambushed vehicles mired in the riverbed's rough terrain.

The lightweight, standard-issue Humvee is vulnerable to enemy fire and the heavier Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected truck (MRAP) is too top-heavy for steep inclines.

Fortunately, the troops of the 173rd Airborne have just received their first All-Terrain Vehicle version of the MRAP, the M-ATV. The 15-ton vehicle is nimble enough for rough terrain and sufficiently armored to deflect all but the biggest bombs.

The MRAP vehicle has its roots in the Iraq war. Improvised Explosive Devices wreaked havoc with the boxy, M-1151 Humvees. With their v-shaped bottoms, the MRAPs deflected blasts and saved hundreds of American lives.

But in Afghanistan, the MRAPs tended to roll over on mountain roads. So the Pentagon awarded a $4 billion contract to build a version with a lower center of gravity and improved suspension. The first of 6,000 M-ATVs arrived in Afghanistan late last year.

At Bagram airfield outside Kabul, Sergeant First Class Randy Geringer helps train 82nd Airborne Division soldiers to drive the M-ATV. Geringer has nothing but praise for the vehicle.

"The MRAP ATV for this type of terrain I feel is more versatile, with the tire inflation system," said Geringer.  "It's more rugged vehicle and I think it would handle the terrain a little bit easier than some of the other vehicles."

But in addition to their high cost -- three times that of a Humvee -- the M-ATVs are mechanically complex. Staff Sergeant Richard Green, an 82nd Airborne Division mechanic, found this out first-hand when he accidentally damaged his unit's first M-ATV.

"There's a nut on the inside of the oil pan. The bolt came out. But the nut was not welded correctly to the oil pan, so the nut fell off. The bolt comes out and there was no way to hold the oil in the pan. So we had to take the engine pack out and replace it," recalled Green.

The M-ATVs are also a major logistical challenge. The Pentagon transports them by air in order to meet the high demand, adding a 10-percent premium to the vehicle's cost.

Then, it can take a team of 10 people several hours to unload a shipment of five M-ATVs. On a 747 freighter, there are just centimeters of clearance between the M-ATVs and the plane's sides.

In combat, the frontline soldiers don't care about the M-ATV's logistical burden. They only care that it's safer and better-protected than other vehicles.

"I would feel more confident, comfortable and safe going outside the wire in one of the MRAP variants than I would in the 1151s," noted Geringer.

You May Like

Multimedia Parents of Disaster Ferry Passengers Lash Out at Authorities

Twenty-nine bodies recovered from water but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

US congressional delegation initiates $84 million Agent Orange cleanup project More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid