- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2012

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Monday thanked civilians and military personnel who helped field tens of thousands of lifesaving vehicles to the battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I felt a hell of a lot better … knowing that while my son was in theater, MRAPs were available,” Mr. Biden said during a Pentagon ceremony, referring to mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. His son Beau served in Iraq in the Delaware Army National Guard.

MRAPs have saved “thousands of troop lives and limbs” in Iraq and Afghanistan, Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the ceremony, which marked the formal transition of the MRAP Joint Program Office’s leadership from the Marine Corps to the Army.

The ceremony also marked the formal establishment of an MRAP program within each service.

In 2007, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates sped up the deployment of MRAPs to Iraq and Afghanistan after learning that they helped to protect coalition troops from improvised explosive devices, the No. 1 killer of troops on the battlefield.

Their V-shaped hulls help deflect the blast of an roadside bomb, unlike the Humvees that most troops rode in before the MRAPs were deployed.

Troops are 14 times more likely to survive a roadside bomb blast in an MRAP than a Humvee, Mr. Carter told USA Today in an article Monday. He added that the Pentagon has spent $47 billion on the vehicles, some of which will be deployed to South Korea on a trial basis.

“A new strategic era is dawning,” Mr. Carter said. “It transitions all of us to the strategic future.”

According to Pentagon figures, the average cost of an MRAP is $586,000. More than 24,000 MRAPs have been fielded, and 12,726 remain in Afghanistan.

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