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More COIN Tech

11:55 AM, Jan 19, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Stars & Stripes reports that the military will send 4,060 mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles to Iraq over the next year. The vehicles rely on increased armor and a v-shaped undercarriage to deflect the force of explosives concealed or buried in the road below. Only a few hundred of the vehicles are currently in use, and they are tasked mainly with detecting and clearing IEDs. Not a single American soldier of Marine has been killed by an IED while performing that mission in these more capable vehicles, which explains why the military is finally pushing to ramp up their numbers.

Though the military denies that these vehicles will replace the Humvee as the primary means of transportation in Iraq, if they are able to deliver more than 4,000 of these vehicles by the end of the year American troops will be far less vulnerable to IEDs while on patrol in Iraq's most dangerous neighborhoods.

At $2 billion, the MRAP vehicles are a bargain. From

Protecting people is cheaper than replacing them in an all-volunteer service. Research by the Math and Statistics branch of the Naval Safety Center incicates that the financial costs associated to casualties should be adjusted upward no less than 250% from its current 1988 baseline to account for the real dollar costs of care and replacement. Adjusted enlisted casualties average $500,000 dollars while officers, depending upon their military occupation range from one to two million dollars each. This means the average light tactical vehicle with one officer and four enlisted personnel is protecting 2.5 million dollars of the DOD's budget. This $2.5 million is real O&M dollars. The argument that "we can't afford armored vehicles" is specious. The opposite is true, at 2.5 million dollars of precious cargo each, the Corps cannot afford UN-armored vehicles.

Another major threat to American troops in Iraq is highly-mobile mortar teams that "shoot and scoot" from highly populated areas so as to prevent what would otherwise be a devastating artillery response. Air Force Times reports that the "U.S. Army has seen rocket and mortar casualty rates drop 'to nearly zero' where its Counter-Rocket, Artillery, Mortar Program system has been deployed, said the manufacturer, and now the service plans to buy more."

Army spokesman Timothy Rider said the C-RAM had "successfully responded to RAM attacks directed at personnel in a U.S. base in Iraq by intercepting/destroying incoming rounds and by providing a capability that contributes to rapid and successful counterattacks and response options such as tracking and apprehending the enemy forces."

These two programs could combine to significantly reduce American casualties in Iraq, and there are murmurs of other, as yet unidentified counter-IED technologies that are on the way. If the military can make a significant dent in this problem, American casualties could return to levels not seen since 2003.