Earlier this year, the U.S.
Department of Defense authorized the purchase of 15,274 MRAP (Mine Resistant
Ambush Protected) vehicles (10,000 for the Army, 3,700 for the Marine Corps,
697 for the Air Force, 544 for the Navy and 333 for SOCOM). So far, only 500
have been delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq got all but twenty of them.
Another thousand are expected before the end of the year. There are few
manufacturers of MRAP vehicles, which are basically custom built.
There are already over two thousand of these
vehicles in use, mainly by bomb disposal troops, and units operating in areas
almost certain to have lots of roadside bombs. People in these vehicles are
much less likely to be killed or injured if they encounter a roadside bomb.
Thus if all the troops who encountered these bombs were in a MRAP vehicles,
casualties would be about 65 percent less. Over the past year, nearly
two-thirds of all casualties in Iraq are from roadside bombs. Thus the army and
marines want to use these vehicles in areas most likely to have bombs, and
reduce overall casualties by about a third.
The bomb resistant vehicles cost about five times
more than armored hummers. MRAPs are basically armored trucks, with a V shaped
bottom, and other design features, that reduce the impact of a nearby
explosion. Analysts are examining casualty patterns to insure that the MRAPs
are assigned to units most likely to suffer bomb attacks. This makes it easier
to put drivers through a week or two of training with the MRAPs, which handle
differently than any other vehicle the military uses.