Michele, The Real McCoy Contributor
new tactical vehicle began prowling the Fort McCoy streets, range
routes and training lanes recently. A little different than what has
been seen normally at the Wisconsin Army installation, it now is
steadily becoming more visible worldwide.
Soldiers get a close up view of a
Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle during training
at Fort McCoy. Sgt. 1st Class Scott Ellsworth (left, in soft
cap) of the 2nd, 411th Logistical Support Battalion, 181st
Infantry Brigade instructs the Soldiers. (Photo
by Tom Michele)
new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle is designed
to keep the crew alive," Sgt. 1st Class Scott Ellsworth said.
"You can replace vehicles and parts, but you can’t replace
individual Soldiers’ lives."
is a member of the 2nd, 411th Logistical Support Battalion, 181st
Infantry Brigade, the trainers for the mobilization process at McCoy.
of these vehicles have been implemented in-theater overseas,"
Ells-worth said, "and now we are getting some of them here so we
can train Soldiers on them before the Soldiers head overseas."
Eagle Brigade instructor said Soldiers are given instruction for a
four-day period, the first classes being Aug. 13-16 and 17-20. That
training was given to 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from
the Wisconsin Army National Guard as the Red Arrow Brigade was
conducting its three-week extended combat training (ECT) at McCoy.
32nd has regularly conducted its ECT at its home state Army site for
nearly a century, but they have been concentrating on mobilization
training for their weekend drills for the past year as they were
alerted and recently have received orders for a tour in South Central
Asia. The MRAP training fits exactly into their preparedness needs.
said it is important to "have Soldiers get hands-on experience
with the MRAP before they go into theater so they are one step
the MRAP having a more common label and name of "Cougar,"
Ellsworth related, "we teach Soldiers to treat the Cougar as an
‘animal.’ It is a 20-ton animal, but it needs to be fed, fueled.
Before the crew eats or sleeps, they must take care of the beast that
will sustain them in the combat arena — maintenance, preventive
maintenance checks and services (PMCS). All to be ready to prowl the
training sergeant said MRAP operators, like most mechanical operators,
"must take care of the ‘animal’ before you take care of
yourself. Do not neglect or forget the ‘animal.’ It will remember
and, then in combat, give up on you. It’s all about that cliché,
‘attention to detail.’ The operator is part of that animal, part
of that team."
went a little deeper, "I’m training my Soldiers with the
highest priority. This is an awesome and an exciting time. We teach
the Soldier drivers the priorities of driving so the rest of the crew
can do their specific missions. That crew will vary from six to 13
Soldiers, depending on the variation of the vehicle. There are about
seven different configurations, several sub-categories according to
weight, and there are also about five different manufacturers."
emphasized communications between crew members is critical,
specifically between the driver, truck commander and gunner.
members wear the microphone and ear piece head sets inside their
helmets for effective communication and hearing protection.
are side and rear windows in the vehicle, but they are not especially
large so that they may be much more blast resistant.
going through the four-day training session take a written and also a
road test and are licensed in accordance with Army regulations,
Ellsworth mentioned. Ellsworth took a two-week instructor training
class in Texarkana, Texas, to get his certification.
of the ‘bottom line’ of the new vehicle is that it is designed to
replace the armored High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle
(HMMWV) in certain combat theater operations, according to Ellsworth.
were first fielded in combat theaters of operation in 2006, primarily
for route-clearance and explosive-ordnance-disposal operations, but
also for supporting security, convoy escort, troop or cargo transport,
medical transport and combat engineer operations. MRAPs are being
fielded right off of the manufacturers’ assembly line.
May 15, 2008, Department of Defense press transcript states, "The
casualty rate for MRAPs is 6 percent, making it ‘the most survivable
vehicle we have in our arsenal by a multitude.’"
said one of the most- important aspects about MRAP training at Fort
McCoy is that, "Experience is the best teacher, and we want to
teach Soldiers here before they go into theater. They will be safer
operators if they learn about the capabilities and dangers — if they
learn it here instead of learning it in a combat scenario."
of the problems encountered with MRAPs is the vehicle has a higher
center of gravity than some other vehicles, and, along with much
softer highway shoulders in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, are that
vehicle rollovers have been a problem.
manufacturer designers are working on that situation," Ellsworth
Daniel Beaver, of the 32nd Brigade, said, from the driver’s seat of
the MRAP, "I get a chance to drive a really big truck. This truck’s
important because it’s important to stay alive. This one’s way
safer than a HMMWV."
(Michele is a public
affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for
CONUS Support Base Services.)