Troops In Iraq Promised New Gear
By Leo Shane III
Stars and Stripes
May 7, 2005
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress promised Thursday that troops in Iraq will
get new IED jammers within 60 days and better gun truck kits in the coming
months, and started research on ballistic glass shields that can be easily
installed on Humvees.
The equipment promises came as the House Armed Services Committee continued
its yearlong review of the improvised explosive device problem in Iraq.
Marine officials testified that the services had underestimated how
dangerous roadside bombs would be, but said they are confident military
technology has now caught up with the problem.
Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson, deputy for acquisitions and systems
management, said that lack of foresight slowed the supply of armor kits to Iraq
and Afghanistan, as officials struggled to buy steel, find contractors to
fashion the armor, and develop working prototypes to retrofit the military
"In some of the first instances where we put these kits on, the vehicle came
to a basic stop and the weight shattered the front shaft," he said. "We had to
go through a very deliberate process."
Now kits are being made and moved much quicker, Sorenson said, and of the
10,000-plus up-armored Humvees in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 80 percent have
the best-available armor.
A new law passed by Congress earlier this year also has sped up the
procurement process, allowing defense officials to bypass traditional bidding
processes if a "combat emergency" is declared.
Committee chairman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the new process will
allow military officials to quickly produce and ship new low-cost electronic
jamming devices, designed to disrupt radio-controlled roadside bombs.
Hunter did not give specifics on the number of devices headed overseas, but
said he expects units to receive them in 45 to 60 days.
"This is an area where we need to move very quickly to save lives, so we're
going to use this new [law]," he said.
Also at the hearing, officials from the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Agency said they are pleased so far with new gun truck kits already in use in
The armor and turrets add-on, designed for cargo vehicles already in use, was
built after military officials saw troops improvising their own mobile battle
stations to deal with dangerous convoy missions.
Steven DeTeresa, one of the researchers on the project, said about 30 of the
$40,000 kits were sent to Iraq over the past eight months. One of the trucks was
stuck by an IED in March, but the seven soldiers aboard suffered only minor
DeTeresa said one of the keys for the new gun truck kits are ballistic glass
shields on the sides of the vehicle, which protect gunners from shrapnel while
still allowing them to quickly respond to incoming fire.
Hunter and other members of the committee asked DARPA to begin researching
how to adapt those shields on the Humvees already in use, noting the number of
injuries to troops in exposed positions on those vehicles. DeTeresa said he
believes both types of convoy vehicles need to be used in current combat
missions in Iraq.
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