The Pentagon announced late last week that it had received the delivery of the 10,000th Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle to its facility in South Carolina where the various electronics and other components are installed before being shipped to Iraq or (strangely) Afghanistan.
The rapid response by the Department of Defense to protect the warfighters reached a major milestone today when the 10,000th Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle rolled off the assembly line and into government hands.
In February 2008 the MRAP program office, headed by Marine Corps Systems Command, recorded its 5,000th MRAP vehicle acceptance. That milestone was reached less than a year after the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made MRAPs the DoD's top acquisition priority. Since then, the program has advanced at near-unprecedented speed, doubling production of the life-saving vehicle in just over four months.
Gates said, "This is a significant achievement. This program has gone from zero to ten thousand in just about a year and a half. These vehicles have proven themselves on the battlefield and are saving lives."
You know I've been critical of the MRAP rush, but this is a truly significant achievement in many ways for the Pentagon and they deserve some credit for pushing aside the usual barriers to get this capability to the battlefield quickly. One aspect of that streamlining that cannot be ignored is that Congress got out of the way as well -- in fact providing much of the motivation for the Pentagon's "crash" program.
It looks like the Pentagon's going to stop forcing the MRAPs on the services at 15,000. That's a long way from the one-for-one replacement of Up-armored Humvees to MRAPs some in Congress were agitating for, and it still gives the services some of that "boutique" capability Brogan originally considered the MRAP.
"The many successes of the joint MRAP vehicle program are the result of an overwhelming team effort by the many players in this program," said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Michael Brogan, MCSC commander.
"From production to integration, from transportation to fielding, many commands and organizations have played major roles in this program."
One of my boys calls the MRAP a bank vault on wheels (which I sort of agree with), but give credit where credit is due. They saw a need, they got the money, the fielded the trucks. And, yes, they saved many lives.