The U.S. military’s new armored trucks in Afghanistan are significantly reducing troop deaths in roadside attacks at a time when insurgent bombings are at record levels, according to statistics provided to USA TODAY.
Deaths of U.S. and allied troops fell from 76 in July 2009 to 57 in July of this year, according to the military command in Afghanistan.
Nearly 80% of roadside bomb attacks on Humvees from January 2009 through the end of July 2010 killed occupants, according to U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Johnson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, the top command in Afghanistan. That figure dropped to 15% for attacks on Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, and an all-terrain MRAP model tailor-made for Afghanistan’s rugged terrain. The trucks are designed to shield people from roadside bomb blasts.
The military estimates that MRAPs have reduced deaths and injuries by 30% over that time. That amounts to dozens of lives saved each month.
More than $40 billion will have been spent by the end of September to build, ship and maintain MRAPs.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the armored truck the Pentagon’s top priority during the most intense fighting of the war in Iraq in mid-2007. Humvees, the onetime workhorse vehicle of the military, have been mostly confined to bases in Afghanistan in recent months.
The trucks’ performance in Afghanistan, where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) have become the insurgents’ weapon of choice, has prompted Gates to continue to push for more of them, said Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary. There are about 12,000 MRAPs in Afghanistan and about 100,000 U.S. troops.
Source: Tom Vanden Brook for USA Today.