January 26, 2008:
The U.S. is sending
500 MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles to Afghanistan. Several
thousand of these vehicles are already in Iraq. Until recently, MRAPs were
used mainly by bomb disposal troops, and
units operating in areas thick with roadside bombs. Passengers in these
vehicles are much less likely to be killed or injured if they encounter a
roadside bomb. Compared to troops in armored hummers, those in a MRAP vehicles
suffer only about third as many casualties. Over the past year, nearly
two-thirds of all casualties in Iraq are from roadside bombs, and the Taliban
in Afghanistan are increasingly using roadside bombs. Thus demand for MRAPs.
The bomb resistant vehicles cost about
five times more than armored hummers. The extra money buys more metal, and
technology. In part, MRAPs depend on sheer heft to protect their passengers. An
armored hummer weighs about four tons, while the average MRAPs are 16-19 tons.
The V shaped underbody of the MRAP deflects the force of an explosion. The
pressurized passenger cabin also keeps out blast effect, as well as a lot of
There's another angle to MRAP use.
Intelligence analysts constantly examine casualty and IED (improvised explosive
device, the milspeak for roadside bombs) patterns to insure that the MRAPs are
assigned to units most likely to suffer bomb attacks. This makes it easier to
put the right drivers through a week or two of training with the MRAPs, which
handle differently than any other vehicle the military uses. It also makes sure
that more IEDs encounter MRAPs, rather than more vulnerable vehicles.