Opinion: Saying goodbye to a symbol of the Iraq war
The MRAP was in a long convoy of vehicles that crossed the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border December 18 when the last U.S. troops exited Iraq.
March 24th, 2012
03:21 PM ET

Opinion: Saying goodbye to a symbol of the Iraq war

By Moni Basu, CNN

Editor’s Note: Moni Basu is a reporter for CNN. She covered the Iraq war for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The last of America's mine resistant vehicles out of Iraq boarded a ship in Kuwait on Saturday, bound for Fort Hood, Texas. There, it will be displayed at the 1st Cavalry Division Museum, forever a symbol of the Iraq war.

The Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle - known simply by its acronym MRAP in typical military fashion - was in a long convoy of vehicles that crossed the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border December 18 when the last U.S. troops exited Iraq.

I remember when the MRAPs were newly introduced in Iraq. They were a fresh hope of survival for American men and women.

Staff Sgt. Jamie Linen used to transport soldiers and run supplies every day from Baghdad's Forward Operating Base Falcon to nearby patrol bases where surge troops of the 3rd Infantry Division were based. Linen, like all other soldiers, thought about the risks of bombs hidden along the roads every time he rolled out the gate. They were, after all, the No. 1 killer of American troops in Iraq. The first MRAP arrived for Linen's unit in November 2007, months after President Bush ordered a "surge" in troops to defeat a raging insurgency. The shiny trucks were the new stars of the military then.

The soldiers were glad to get out of the backs of hot, uncomfortable Bradley Fighting Vehicles or the less-protected Humvees and step up high into the cab of a sophisticated MRAP. Made by International, the $658,000 trucks sat high on the road - 36 inches off the ground - and came with a V-shaped hull that helped deflect the impact of an improvised explosive device.

The walls of the truck were thick. The design was state of the art. The only thing they were missing, a soldier joked, were cup holders.

The MRAPs were loaded with safety features, including a fire suppression system that protected every part of the truck and a pressurized cab built to withstand a nuclear or biological attack. The seats had shoulder harnesses, and the doors operated on a hydraulic system so that in a rollover, soldiers didn't have to push their way out of armored doors that could weigh up to 1,000 pounds. That was always something that gave me pause when I rode around in an up-armored Humvee. How would I get that door open if something bad happened?

Linen had to take a weeklong course on MRAP operation and maintenance. He told me the trucks boosted his confidence to get the mission done. I could see why after riding with him a few times. I felt the kind of protection a frightened child feels in a mother's arms.

Just weeks before, I had met Linen's platoon leader, 1st Lt. Mark Little, who was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. A bomb had blown both his legs off.

No one could say for sure, of course, but Linen thought that perhaps Little wouldn't have to wear prosthetics had he been in an MRAP.

"Nothing is invincible here," he said. "You got tanks with 3 feet of armor getting blown up. But the MRAPs give us a sense of security."

Linen's driver, Spc. Robert Nowlin, was sure the enemy feared the Americans more when they were riding in MRAPs.

Why would they not?

In late 2007, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters that "these armored trucks ... have been the military's top acquisition priority for months now, and with good reason."

The MRAPs had their drawbacks. They were not suited for narrow roads because of their size and weight and were susceptible to rollovers. They weren't good for Afghanistan's mountainous terrain. And American soldiers did die in MRAP incidents. But back then in Iraq, they were a godsend.

Apt, I thought, that one should find a home in a military museum, a testament to the American men and women who fought in the war.

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Filed under: Iraq
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Gutter

    Horrible writing, even worse article, either this is the best she could do or this was a rushed piece. Either way, let the generals fight the wars keep the political BS out of the way and this piece of equipment would have been available sooner.

    March 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Oh The Inhumanity

      @Gutter, your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are horrible. Yes, the article looks rushed. She probably was. What is your excuse?

      March 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh The Inhumanity

      @Gutter, your grammar, punctuation, and spelling are horrible. Yes, the article looks rushed. She probably was. What is your excuse

      March 25, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ciaopaparazzi

    The MRAP is a pathetic joke – a symbol of a country that doesn't have the balls to win a war – and a world full of terrorists that know it. It doesn't matter how big you build them, it's a lot cheaper for the terrorists to blow them up. All it is is a bigger target. If the terrorists thought we would stay and finish what we started – guess what? They wouldn't fight in the first place and there would never have been an Iraq "war" after the LIBERATION. But the news media has made sure that they print the terrorist propaganda and spread US defeatism. They are the real enemies.

    March 25, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Oh The Inhumanity

    @korkea aika, it was not a mistake for my son to sign up. He did what he thought was a responsible thing to do, as many others did. If they hadn't, there would have been a draft. What history will write about is a President who led us into a war based on lies and never had to answer for it.

    March 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. leeintulsa

    i wonder how many of those republicans who said it was wrong to harsh the president during times of war harsh obama right now..? all of em?

    March 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. trollattackforce

    Any country that has a McDonalds, will never go to war with another country that also has a McDonalds.

    March 26, 2012 at 3:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. John Moss

    The people of this America of today only hold their troops in contempt. The very fact that veterans of this war cannot find jobs, are committing suicide at the rate of 16 per day, and have generally been forgotten is testament to the true support they are receiving. If we were to focus on those Americans most responsible for this hypocrisy, it would be those of the 30 & 40-something cohort, the American adults in the prime of their lives, Generation X- a generation which should be in its entirety shoveled into the fires of hell!

    March 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • dalla

      Sounds like you are talking about the the Vietnam war after all !?

      March 26, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gopherit

    $658,000 per MRAP multiplied times the number produced would have done a lot of good if spent on the U.S.'s problems at home. And none of that, including putting U.S. troops in danger iby invading Iraq, should ever have been American policy and action.

    Dick Cheney gets a transplanted heart while unknown millions of Iraqis don't even have BandAids, thanks to him and G. W. Bush and the other Neocons.

    March 26, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. vivian

    I am proud of President Obama and our troops. Now let's bring them home and end these immoral, expensive, death creating wars. Bush bankrupted America with these stupid missions that have caused untold death, misery, and missing limbs on all sides.

    March 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. vivian

    Obama care rules! Take care of sick Americans. Yes! Obama is a great president, one of the best we've had in my lifetime.
    The three stupid trolls leaving all the hater comments here cannot stand the fact that he is gonna sail to a second term!

    DEAL WITH IT, HATERS! FOUR MORE YEARS! Muahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!

    March 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • vbscript2

      Obama is the worst President we've had since FDR. Only Carter is really even in the running against him. This year should be the easiest Presidential election for Republicans to win since Reagan's re-election in '84. Unfortunately, they're doing a pretty good job of losing it anyway.

      March 27, 2012 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  10. sliv3r16

    Keep on writing Ms. Basu. Best article I've read from CNN in awhile.

    In my opinion, journalists usually don't put much thought into thanking the troops. They do thank them, don't get me wrong, but usually it's the same generic story time and time again. I served as a gunner in Iraq 08-09 and were issued a brand new experimental model (at the time) MRAP called the CAIMEN, which is what you see in the picture above. They were so much better than the hmmwv we had to ride around in. BTW, that price is only for the truck... factor in all the equipment that's inside it and it's a little higher $658,000. I'm happy the Army decided to memorialize this vehicle... it definately made a difference over there.

    March 27, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • sliv3r16

      Also, correction, Ms. Basu. Not that I expect you to know this, but the truck pictured above (the Caimen MRAP) was made by BAE. The first MRAP was made by International. If you're looking for a picture of it, it looks like a propane truck on steroids. :)

      March 27, 2012 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Travis

      Thank you sir for risking your life just to save ours.

      March 28, 2012 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
    • sliv3r16

      Thank you for your support, Travis. God knows we all need it.

      March 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. WRG001

    MRAPS are a class of vehicle. International is by far not the only supplier. These vehicles are not exactly state of the art either...which is sad, because they're effectiveness was ready off the shelf prior to our invasion of Iraq. South Africa essentially perfected the use of the MRAP fighting communist terrorists in Southwest Africa (Namibia) and at home. Of course, it is the JIEDDO funded (black money) whiz-bang counter-IED tech that has been affixed to the MRAPs that make them technologically capable. The MRAP itself is much like a garbage truck, providing steel and distance between its occupants and any potential blast. All else is armor-swag. Also, your cost per MRAP must have been provided by a DoD source...way off. $660k may get you in the cab...but, did you want floor mats with this? Read the GAO work on JIEDDO funding for MRAPs and other counter-IED tech...your great grandchildrens' tax dollars have paid for all of this.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:15 am | Report abuse | Reply
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