January 30, 2008:
MRAP (Mine Resistant
Ambush Protected) vehicles have been a mixed blessing. While these vehicles do
make their passengers safer from the effects of mines and roadside bombs, they
also bring with them some new problems. First of all, MRAPs are big. They are
basically large armored trucks, compared to the armored hummer, which is more
like an SUV. MRAPs weigh twice what hummers do. Some MRAPs weigh up to twenty
tons. That means MRAPs cannot use some bridges, while lighter hummers can. The
larger size of MRAPs keeps them off some urban areas (narrow streets and all
that), and even some mountain roads and cross-country roads. Bigger isn't
always better. On the other hand, the MRAPs are a lot more comfortable inside,
compared to the hummer. The troops appreciate that.
What the troops do not appreciate is
that MRAPs cannot tow each other. Hummers can, and they were designed that way.
If a hummer breaks down, another can tow it back to base. With MRAPs, you have
to wait for a large two truck to be sent out from a base. This can ruin a
mission. In some cases, if the danger is great enough, one or more other
vehicles must stay with the immobile one.
With the huge reduction in roadside
bomb activity in Iraq, troops are going back to their hummers. Smaller, and
easier to handle than MRAPs, the hummer is a better fit for the troops, and the
kind of terrain they are operating in. The army and marines have been cutting
their MRAP orders, as more of these user reports come back from the front. That
said, the MRAPs do work as advertised, and remain very effective in protecting
their passengers from the effects of bombs and mines.