Armor: Get By With A Little MRAP From Your Friends


February 14, 2010: The United States plans to put more MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles (per thousand soldiers) in Afghanistan, than it had in Iraq. But many of these MRAPs will be sold, or loaned, to NATO allies. Nearly all the combat forces in Iraq were American, so U.S. troops got most of the MRAPs. But in Afghanistan, a third of the 148,000 foreign troops are NATO. As the U.S. puts more troops into Afghanistan, that will go down to 30 or 25 percent for NATO, but there will still be a lot of allied troops lacking MRAPs (usually because they can't afford them). So the U.S. is stepping up to provide protection. Some Afghan Army units will also get them, especially those Afghan troops operating with foreign troops (who are the primary target for the bombs and mines.)

But the United States has more to offer. American intelligence forces in Iraq developed techniques for detecting where these bombs would show up, and who was manufacturing and emplacing them. The United States is sharing this knowledge, and some of the specialized equipment and software, with NATO allies. The American techniques are highly dependent on aerial reconnaissance, electronic surveillance and jamming, to monitor roads and track bomb making teams. NATO forces have invested heavily in UAVs, and this will help them make use of the American techniques for countering the roadside bomb tactics.

The combination of MRAPs (about 50 per thousand troops) and aggressive intelligence work greatly reduced the effectiveness of roadside bombs in Iraq, and it will have a similar impact in Afghanistan, even through the bombs are used a bit differently (more dirt roads make it easier to hide the bombs) in Afghanistan, the problem is the same, and the proven solutions will have an impact.



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