The Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) family of vehicles is a success story of rapid equipping with which most Soldiers and Army Civilians are familiar. Between 2005 and 2009, the Department of Defense quickly procured and allocated approximately 21,000 MRAPs and Route Clearing/Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) vehicles for the Army in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This rapid acquisition and fielding was in response to urgent warfighter requests for a highly survivable and mobile multi-mission vehicle, which was needed to counter evolving Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFP), underbody mines, and small arms threats. What most Soldiers and civilians do not know is how the Army identified the requirements that resulted in the expedited acquisition of these 21,000 trucks.
In a November, 2005 meeting with Maj. Gen. David Fastabend -- a previous deputy director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) â€“ Brig. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, then-Director of ARICIC's Requirements Integration Directorate (RID), and his deputy Mr. Ed Mazzanti, were presented messages from commanders in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Addressed to the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Commanding General and Army senior leaders, those messages highlighted that threats to the Army tactical vehicle fleet had increased significantly due to the proliferation of IEDs. Specifically, they noted that the devices were being planted and detonated by the insurgency in highly adaptive ways.
These commanders uniformly stated that the inadequacy of the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) fleet had become apparent â€“ even with the addition of up-armor kits. At that time, 63 percent of the fatalities and casualties in Iraq and 41percent in Afghanistan were the result of IED attacks. At the conclusion of the discussion, Maj. Gen. Fastabend directed RID to act as the lead in developing a TRADOC-wide task force to identify capability gaps, as well as isolate and assess ongoing capability solutions to protect U.S. forces from IEDs. He emphasized that this was not a routine development activity, and the timeline was constrained to months, and not years.
Three days after the initial meeting, the TRADOC Commander signed a directive establishing the Comprehensive Force Protection Initiative (CFPI). RID had led the drafting, staffing, and planning for a three-phase effort that included the participation of the Infantry Center; Armor Center; Maneuver Support Center; Combined Arms Support Command; Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM); and the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC). Spearheaded by RID's Accelerated Capability Division, the CFPI was directed to "cast the net widely for existing commercial, government, and mature prototype solutions â€“ including off-shore sources." CFPI was a primary duty for all participants and was scheduled to provide Army leadership with recommendations five months later in April 2006.
After analyzing the capability gaps, RID led a follow-on CFPI phase to define the MRAP vulnerability and survivability criteria. Essential to this effort was the request for the physical and physics parameters associated with how mines kill vehicles and their occupants. Isolation of this information turned out to be pivotal. The last phase was a CFPI solution demonstration led by the U.S. Army Armor Center (USAARMC) at Ft. Knox, Kentucky in March 2006. The demonstrations involved 15 commercially manufactured vehicles and prototypes, provided and operated at no cost by the vendors. The analytical results obtained from this multiple task demonstration by industry participants (including candidates from South Africa and Europe) to the Army, TRADOC, and the CFPI helped shape the exact definition of what Soldiers needed. This data informed the Key Performance Parameters and Key System Attributes of the MRAP accelerated acquisition strategy.
Based upon the CFPI insights, successive RID Directors sought every opportunity to press for the Army to pursue a survivable replacement for the up-armored HMMVW. RID leadership drafted the Operational Needs Statement that was used by the U.S. Army Central Command to define the requirement for 17,700 MRAPS. The CFPI results and recommendations were also provided to Army and Marine Corps leadership in the summer of 2006. In August 2006, the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) moved forward with the MRAP acquisition, soon followed by the Army decision to partner with the USMC in building and buying the MRAP. RID leadership participated with the Navy Program Manager for MRAP to interject CFPI generated parameters into the Request for Proposals from industry. Mr. Ed Mazzanti, the RID Deputy, was also the Army representative in the 2007 Source Selection Advisory Committee.
Finally, in January 2008, RID provided the senior Army member of the In-Theater Operational Assessment of MRAPS flowing into the Iraq theater. Based on that team's assessment that a more maneuverable variant was required for urban environments and canal zones outside Baghdad, then-RID Director Brig. Gen. Pete Palmer strongly advocated a more tactically mobile MRAP vehicle. RID personnel participated in the development of specifications for the MRAP All Terrain Vehicle (MATV), and Ed Mazzanti served as a member of the MATV Source Selection Advisory Committee. Today, MATVs provide Soldiers protected mobility across various types of terrain.
ConclusionSince 2005, the leadership of the Department of Defense has made the provision of MRAP vehicles- and particularly servicemember survivability -- the most urgent department requirement. Speed of delivery drove the decision to use six MRAP vendors to produce 25 variants. Logistics and sustainment attributes were intentionally traded in order to rush delivery. Rather than take years to develop the optimum vehicle solution using the traditional acquisition model, MRAP capabilities were rapidly developed, fielded, and improved in a spiral approach to respond to evolving threats. The result was innumerable lives saved.
After the conclusion of OIF and the ongoing retrograde strategy for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), the U.S. Army is now in the process of analyzing what to retain and divest of the remaining MRAPs. Given projected fiscal constraints, the Army cannot afford to upgrade or sustain approximately 21,000 MRAPs. Thus, the Army plans to retain around 11,500 MRAPs and Route Clearing/EOD vehicles. The decision to retain these MRAPs resulted from a detailed analysis of projected user requirements, vehicle mission roles, vehicle logistics commonality, and sustainment costs, with the goal of balancing risk, capabilities and affordability. In this and earlier related efforts, RID is proud of its participation in the eight-year evolution of the MRAP as an accelerated response to an urgent requirement for the joint force.