Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Improvising in Iraq

Some US troops in Iraq are improvising by having steel welded on to unarmored Humvees. But no worries...the real armor is on the way.

While the Army plans to ship more armored Humvees into Iraq, many troops are upgrading their soft-sided Humvees on the cheap while they wait for replacements.

Conventional Humvees were not designed to face some of the most insidious threats in the Iraq combat zone. Roadside bombs have killed more than 80 soldiers since the war began last March. Hundreds of other troops have been killed when explosive devices were tossed into their vehicles or they were ambushed.

Army officials said last week that up to 220 armored Humvees a month will be produced in a new factory in the United States by this spring. In addition, 6,000 kits for armoring standard Humvees and other military vehicles also are being sent to the region. The cost for the new vehicles and upgrade kits is roughly $177 million.

In the meantime, some soldiers are turning to local metal shops to upgrade their conventional Humvees as best they can.

That’s what soldiers from the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion did. The battalion, a California National Guard unit, brought 13 vehicles into Iraq, including 12 unarmored Humvees, when they arrived in March 2003.

They since have hired Iraqis to install makeshift armor on all their vehicles. At $2,000 apiece, each vehicle’s floorboard and cargo areas were lined with steel. Steel doors were added, along with steel enclosures for the gunners on gun trucks. Sandbags on the floor and crossed fingers do the rest.

So far, none of the unit’s 113 soldiers has been seriously injured or killed while patrolling an area from LSA Anaconda, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, north to Kirkuk.

Nessecity is the mother of invention...


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