The milestone was reached this morning in Southwest Asia when the first MRAP vehicle rolled off an Air Mobility Command C-5 aircraft assigned to Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The C-5 carried four smaller MRAP vehicles, known as Cougars.
Shawn Vosburg, a transportation analyst with the command’s Directorate of Operations and Plans, said the command has leveraged both air and sea transportation since April 2007 to get the lifesaving vehicles into the hands of warfighters.
Until November, MRAPs were delivered by large Air Force and commercial cargo aircraft, including the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and a commercial AN-124 Condor. November marked the beginning of MRAP sealift, which greatly increased the number of vehicles in the Central Command area of operations. One cargo ship can carry up to 200 times the weight of a C-17 Globemaster III, at a cost of about 10 times less.
The Army’s Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command and the Navy’s Military Sealift Command both served as vital partners in the undertaking.
On Dec. 31, Transportation Command made good on a promise of Defense Secretary Robert Gates to have 1,500 MRAPs in theater by the end of 2007. On April 5, the command reached another major milestone of 5,000 MRAP vehicles delivered to Central Command.
In the past six months, Transportation Command orchestrated the delivery of an additional 5,000 vehicles into the hands of warfighters, Vosburg said.
“We are on track to exceed the 10,000 vehicle delivery mark, with the additional delivery of almost 600 more vehicles through Oct. 9,” he said.
Air Force Gen. Duncan McNabb, TRANSCOM commander, said the deliveries have a direct effect where they matter most. “This delivery milestone is vitally important to the warfighters, because these vehicles save lives,” he said.
The general pointed out that the command’s focus goes beyond delivering the vehicles. “We are fully engaged with our military and civilian supply chain partners to accelerate sustainment parts delivery to theater,” he said.
McNabb noted that the effectiveness of the program is a credit to the close coordination with the Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va., which serves the Defense Department joint program office, commercial partners, and Central Command for theater distribution.