Mike Anthony, Editor
The latest armored vehicles aimed at shielding troops from roadside bombs are so maneuverable off roads that they give U.S. troops an offensive advantage as they prepare for major operations against insurgents this spring, a Marine general running the vehicle program says.
The speed and maneuverability of the new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles transform it “from simply a means of transportation to an offensive capability,” Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan said.
There are about 300 of the all-terrain MRAPs being used in combat, Brogan said. Military leaders seek 6,000 more of the vehicles to protect troops from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Last year, the number of IEDs planted by insurgents more than doubled to nearly 8,000.
The ability to travel off-road is critical in Afghanistan. The country is about the size of Texas and has rugged terrain and few paved routes. Standard MRAP trucks, which have a high center of gravity and weigh more than 30,000 pounds, have been confined mostly to the roads that do exist.
Lack of mobility makes MRAPs and other heavier vehicles easier to target for insurgents, Brogan says. Better mobility was a key requirement for the new truck.
“This vehicle offers the ability that the baseline MRAPs didn’t, namely the ability to get off-road and maneuver,” Brogan said. “That makes the targeting exponentially more difficult for the bad guys.”
The vehicle enables troops to stay unpredictable and confound insurgents, says Dakota Wood, a military analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“As long as you have to travel on roads, you make yourself an easier target,” Wood said. “If you broaden your options on where you can go, that’s good for you.”
MRAPs have proved far safer in bomb blasts in Afghanistan than any other vehicle. Troops are “tens of times” more likely to be wounded or killed in other vehicles in an IED attack, according to the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organization.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a Senate panel Tuesday that IEDs are “absolutely the worst killer and maimer of our troops.” He said MRAPs made “a huge difference” in limiting the carnage from IEDs.
Starting this month, 500 to 1,000 new MRAPs will begin arriving per month in Afghanistan, Gates told senators.
There are more than 70,000 U.S. service members in Afghanistan, and about 100,000 will be there later this year as part of the escalation ordered by President Obama. There may be the need for 4,000 more MRAPs, Brogan said. The final number will be determined by the Pentagon and combat commanders.
It takes about 14 hours for Oshkosh Defense, the truck’s maker, to produce the vehicle on its assembly lines in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, Brogan said. The company is about 300 trucks ahead of schedule, he said.
It’s an expensive effort. The trucks cost about $1 million apiece. Demand for them requires that each is flown in by cargo jet. It costs more than $150,000 to fly each one aboard an Air Force C-17 (Globemaster) cargo jet or $140,000 aboard a commercial flight. By spring, the Pentagon hopes to have enough of the trucks in Afghanistan to begin sending them by ship, a slower but cheaper alternative to flying, Brogan said.
Pictured C-17 Globemaster
Oshkosh Corporation, maker of the MRAP, announced today that its Defense division received an award valued at more than $84 million from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command Life Cycle Management Command (TACOM LCMC) to supply more than 625 add-on armor kits for the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV).
Under the delivery order, Oshkosh will provide explosively formed penetrator (EFP) protection kits for the M-ATV. Delivery of the kits is expected to begin in April 2010 and be completed by the end of August 2010. The Oshkosh-supplied kits will include EFP armor, base door armor and a door-assist mechanism. To date, Oshkosh has received awards valued at more than $4 billion to deliver 6,619 M-ATVs, as well as spare parts kits and aftermarket in-theater support.
Pictured Right, M-ATV offloaded from the 'Globemaster', Americas highly capable new airlift wing, making American Military Off-Road strengths, world-wide and unmatchable. Can you say "Global Reach"!
The advanced armor system solution for the base Oshkosh M-ATV, prior to installation of EFP kits, has been battle-tested on more than 5,000 legacy MRAPs and thousands of Oshkosh(R) Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) Armored Cabs already in theater. Incorporation of the Oshkosh-patented TAK-4(R) independent suspension system allows the M-ATV to accept add-on armor while maintaining its agile maneuverability and a full payload capacity of up to 4,000 pounds.
In addition to exceptional survivability, the M-ATV delivers superior off-road mobility for Afghanistan's harsh mountainous terrain and unimproved roads. The TAK-4 system, which has undergone more than 500,000 miles of government testing, gives the vehicle a 70 percent off-road profile capability and 16 inches of independent wheel travel to overcome obstacles and rugged environments.
Existing Oshkosh facilities have the capacity, highly skilled workforce and proven manufacturing capability to deliver this M-ATV order and all other Defense program orders, including the U.S. Army's Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), as well as any surges in production.
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense, a division of Oshkosh Corporation, is an industry-leading global designer and manufacturer of tactical military trucks and armored wheeled vehicles, delivering a full product line of conventional and hybrid vehicles, advanced armor options, proprietary suspensions and vehicles with payloads that can exceed 70 tons. Oshkosh Defense provides a global service and supply network including full life-cycle support and remanufacturing, and its vehicles are recognized the world over for superior performance, reliability and protection. For more information, visit www.oshkoshdefense.com.
About Oshkosh Corporation
Oshkosh Corporation is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of specialty access equipment, commercial, fire & emergency and military vehicles and vehicle bodies. Oshkosh Corp. manufactures, distributes and services products under the brands of Oshkosh(R), JLG(R), Pierce(R), McNeilus(R), Medtec(R), Jerr-Dan(R), Oshkosh Specialty Vehicles, Frontline(TM), SMIT(TM), CON-E-CO(R), London(R) and IMT(R). Oshkosh products are valued worldwide in businesses where high quality, superior performance, rugged reliability and long-term value are paramount. For more information, log on to www.oshkoshcorporation.com.
The Looming Sword
The enemy are digging in ahead of a major NATO operation in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, in one of the biggest offensives in the eight-year-old war.
U.S. Marines are set to launch an operation within days to take Marjah, an area of lush farmland criss-crossed by canals in the centre of Helmand, Afghanistan's most violent province.
The offensive will be the first major show of force since President Barack Obama ordered in 30,000 extra troops.
The operation has been flagged in advance in the hope militants will give up the fight in what commanders say is the last big Taliban enclave in the province.
"It has to do with letting people know what's coming in the hope that the hardcore Taliban, or a lot of the Taliban, will simply leave, and maybe there will be less of a fight," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Turkey on Saturday.
But some of the villagers escaping Marjah in fear of their lives said fighters are digging in rather than fleeing.
"The Taliban are not going to leave Marjah. We have seen them preparing themselves. They are bringing in people and weapons. We know there is going to be a big fight," said Abdul Manan, a man from Marjah who had fled to Helmand's capital, Lashkar Gah.
"The Taliban are very active in Marjah. They are planting mines there and in the surrounding areas," said villager Abdul Khaleq after arriving in Lashkar Gah with his family.
The United States and its allies, facing dwindling public support for the war, are hoping a big military push will convince the Taliban to accept a peace deal.
But U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke dismissed speculation Washington, which wants to start drawing down troops in 2011, was already holding talks with the Taliban.
"... I want to state very clearly that our nation is not involved in any direct contacts with the Taliban," he told reporters at a security conference in Munich, Germany.
Holbrooke said in principle negotiations and military operations could run in parallel, citing as examples the efforts to end the Vietnam war and the conflict in former Yugoslavia.
"But it must go hand in hand with security success. It is not an alternative to the military campaign. It requires military success to make progress."
UPDATED TODAY, February 10, 2010
BRITISH SAS heroes have killed up to 50 Taliban commanders in daring raids behind enemy lines. The point of the spear has struck!
Patrols of around four men would have used the tried and tested "find, fix, strike" method to locate and destroy their prey.
"THE WRATH OF THE AMERICANS"
The Taliban have stepped up their fight against foreign troops in recent years, although they have largely shied away from face-to-face combat, relying instead on homemade bombs.
But Abdullah Nasrat, a Taliban commander in Nad Ali district where Marjah is located, told Reuters by telephone there were some 2,000 insurgents there ready to fight to the death.
"We are well prepared and will fight until the end. We don't have sophisticated weapons like the Americans with tanks and airplanes, but we have Islamic zeal. That is the power we have to fight against the infidels," he said.
Around 100 families have fled Marjah and surrounding areas, seeking refuge in Lashkar Gah over the last week, the provincial governor's spokesman Dawood Ahmadi said. Afghan families average around six members.
"On the government side, we are ready to help these people. We are ready to help up to 50,000 displaced people," he said, adding there was a possibility of more people fleeing. Those who fled said they feared for their lives.
"We know that the wrath of the Americans is coming upon us. We left Marjah to save our lives and our families' lives," the villager, Khaleq, said. Now that NATO has the ability and possibly the will, to finish off the Afghan-Pakistani terror connection, "others" are rushing to possibly execute a different theater first strike.
February 11 Threat on Doorstep
However, the Afghanistan operations could take a backseat to the Iranian threats now foreshadowing the recent military hardware moves in the Middle East. Is the NATO Afghanistan planned moves, a chance for "others" to first strike-attack Israel?
What does Iran mean in its recent, "February 11 Punch To (At) The West"? The secret transfer of mobile, solid-fueled, surface-to-surface Syrian-made Fateh-110 (range 250km) missile to Hizballah sparked the US prediction Friday, February 5, that cross-border arms smuggling from Syria into Lebanon outside state control was "very dangerous" and "paved the way to war".
Iranian and military sources report the new war threats from Damascus are backed by massive Iranian airlifts for boosting Syria's missile arsenal. Fresh supplies have also reached Hizballah and Hamas. Syrian war rhetoric was fanned by the delivery of 100 new medium-range surface-to-surface missiles from Iran. The Syrian foreign minister publicly confirmed disclosures in December, of a secret mutual defense pact binding Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas.
Military sources report that not only were Syrian leaders beating war drums, but Egyptian military sources reported that Israel with US assistance has for weeks been charting Persian Gulf waters and northern Iraqi routes into Iran in preparation for an Israeli attack on Irans nuclear facilities.
Has China "green lighted" its 'surrogates' to push for a blow against the west for its recent arms sales disclosures to Taiwan? Has a breach for a new Desert War opened? Who might strike first now?
UPDATED February 11, 2010
The 'punch' Iran threatened with, was announced this morning, it stated now Iran is a nuclear state. A weaponized Iran.
From Today's Wall Street Journal:
By MICHAEL DANBY
""Iran's threat to "punch" the West will exacerbate the worries of many people who follow events in the Middle East and are increasingly worried the world is sleep-walking towards a new regional war. The causes of this possible war are typically categorized as, first, Iran's determination to build nuclear weapons, and second, the world's apparent inability to stop it.
But a third cause often gets overlooked: If there is a war, a large part of the responsibility will rest with Beijing. China has assumed the status of a great power, including a veto at the U.N. Security Council. But instead of becoming a responsible member of the community of leading states, acting jointly with other powers to avert the prospect of wars, China is using its new-found power in ways that make war more likely.
China's military and diplomatic power have increased enormously over the past 20 years. But unlike the world's other leading powers, China is a poor country economically and a dictatorship politically. After decades of rapid growth, China's per capita GDP is still only $6,500–less than Ecuador or Angola, and only 14% of per capita GDP in the United States.
China's approach to Iran can be explained by the political situation at home: The Chinese people have come to expect constantly rising standards of living, and this the greatest weakness of the Chinese Communist regime. The Chinese people will tolerate the communists' monopoly of power only so long as their living standards keep rising.
The weak link in this system is China's inadequate energy sources. Even with coal, nuclear power and its huge hydro-electricity schemes, China is short of energy, and its dependence on imports is growing. Australia, as a major exporter of coal and natural gas, has been one of the major beneficiaries. But China's greatest need is for oil, and this Australia cannot supply.
China can buy all the oil it wants on the international market, but the communist leaders don't want China's prosperity—and their own hold on power—to be dependent on a free market they don't trust. They want control and certainty. They see the way to get these things is through deals with selected oil-exporting countries, preferably ones which are at political odds with western powers, so that their need for friends and protectors is greater.
This explains China's deep involvement with Sudan–one of the world's nastiest regimes, responsible for the deaths of up to 300,000 people in Darfur. Sudan now supplies nearly 10% of China's oil imports. It's a cozy deal–China gets a secure oil supply and Sudan gets arms and diplomatic protection. The Sudanese regime knows it will never face U.N. sanctions, because China uses its Security Council veto to protect it.
An even bigger supplier of oil to China is Iran. China now gets 15% of its oil from Iran, and is Iran's second-biggest customer after Japan. As with Sudan, China pays for its oil by protecting Iran against U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program. Even with Russia threatening to support sanctions against Iran, China's foreign minister has made clear that Beijing opposes sanctions.
This is a very dangerous game. President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad is determined to build nuclear weapons and has threatened Israel with destruction many times. He may be bluffing, but this is not a risk Israel can afford to take. If the international community cannot restrain Iran, the government of Israel will face great pressure to take pre-emptive steps to protect the country against attack.
Thus, China's greed for secure oil imports and its willingness to deal with outlaw regimes to get these imports is causing a breakdown in the world's only system for disciplining countries that endanger peace. If the U.N. sanctions break down in Iran, this opens up a serious danger of war—and China will bear a heavy share of the blame.""
Mr. Danby is a member of the Australian Parliament and chair of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee.
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