MRAP Prime Movers: protecting the field artillery on the battlefield by ProQuest


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									                                  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)

      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.

                                                                                        • 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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