Because they lack armor, these vehicles are restricted to the FOBs in Iraq and Afghanistan, so their use is limited. [...] in Iraq andAfghanistan, FA units cannot execute traditional missions by ground with their organic prime movers. According to the CALL Handbook, an MRAP is not a stand-alone vehicle, but a fleet of several different armored vehicles with unique characteristics.
MRAP Prime Movers: protecting the field artillery on the battlefield An artist concept of an M119A2 howitzer section equipped with a mine resistant ambush-protected prime mover and ammunition section vari- By CPT David K. Smith, FA ant. (Photo courtesy of CPT David K. Smith) T he counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan require A major lesson of the 1991 Gulf War was deployability. The field artillery units to have better armament, force protection and Army wanted to get to a fight fats and not take up to six months to Transformation: tomorrow’s battlefield mobility on the nonlinear battlefield. Towed-artillery units are build combat power. As a result, the M198 and M119A2 battalion employed heavily in both theaters of operation in support of infantry MTOES were designed for rapidly deployable units equipped with and Stryker brigade combat teams. These artillery units do not have light-skinned vehicles. Enemy small-arms fire easily damaged a prime-mover vehicle authorized to operate outside the protection of these vehicles, and improvised explosive devices and rocket- forward operating bases. Until the joint light-tactical vehicle’s field- propelledgrenades proved devastating. ing, the interim solution for towed-artillery units is the battle proven The enemy IED/RPG threat highlighted the need to provide mine resistant ambush-protected vehicle. protection for Soldiers who needed to operate from a mobile Transporting towed-artillery in Iraq and Afghanistan drains platform. There were few M1114 armored HMMWVs, the exclusive manpower for the BCTs. In most cases, towed-artillery units property of military police units. FA units improvised, welding steel must transport their guns either by air or “flat racked” on a plates onto HMMWVs and placing old flak jackets over doors. combat logistics patrol to move from one position to another. This effort to “up-armor” vehicles focused mainly on the doors and These artillery units’ modified tables of organizational equipment sides where troops were susceptible to small-arms fire. Sandbags still include “soft skinned” prime movers — either M1097 high- lined the vehicles’ floors and beds to protect against mines. The mobility, multipurpose wheeled vehicles for M119A2 units or improvised protection was not very effective — especially against M1083 medium tactical vehicles for M777/M198 units. IEDs and mines that detonated beneath the vehicles which lacked Because they lack armor, these vehicles are restricted to the armor there. FOBs in Iraq and Afghanistan, so their use is limited. Thus, in Firepower was also a challenge for light artillery units because Iraq and Afghanistan, FA units cannot execute traditional missions their MTOEs provided only a limited number of crew-served by ground with their organic prime movers. weapons. Soldiers on patrols rode in the open backs of HMMWVs or O peration Iraqi Freedom I lessons learned. The majority of FA cannon units deployed to Iraq in March 2003 were equipped with towed howitzers and light-skinned vehicles. After FMTVs and kept their weapons oriented outward. In some cases, the canvases on hi-back M998 HMMWVs were rolled back near the cab to allow Soldiers to stand with M249s or M4s. There were limited ring 21 days of major combat operations, the U.S. Army transitioned to mounts for weapons on MTVs or M6 pedicel mounts for HMMWVs. stability operations. Divisions assigned FA battalions to nonstandard Units fabricated their own mounts, that, when combined with missions due to a reduced need for indirect fires. Throughout the ad hoc armor, resulted in “Mad Max” style gun trucks. Iraq, FA units parked their guns and “hit the streets” with their After April 2003, it took almost a year to equip most FA units available vehicles, M998 HMMWVs and MTVs. with 1114 HMMWVs in theater. sill-www.army.mil/firesbulletin/ • May-June 2009 37 Now, units routinely fall in on an entire fleet of 1151 up-armored in Afghanistan. The U.S. Marines plans to replace all up-armored HMMWVs or MRAPs. Still, the lesson for the FA community
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