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. High Hopes

    I like my spaghetti with butter, fresh cream,
    parmesan cheese, ground garlic and a
    pinch of fresh basil.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. gerald

    I thought saddams toilet was the symbol for the iraq war?

    March 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. George Green

    Why did we go there again?

    March 24, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herkimer Schwartz

      Because little George had a hard on for Saddam.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • South Westport

      We went there because Al Queida was making it hot for the King and our base in Saudi Arabia. We decided to move the Saudi base into Iraq, to finish off Saddam's constant violations of the armistice so that we could pivot to attack Afghanistan. You can't have a two front war, and too many of our troops were pinned down watching Saddam. This is essentially the same reason why we attacked France's North Africa colonies at the beginning of the offensives of WWII.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Randy T.

      Because Sadaam Insane kicked the weapons inspectors out.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Because of weapons that didn't exist and links to al queda that didn't exist... and that common sense told you didn't exist.

      March 25, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      to protect our freedoms LOL

      March 26, 2012 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • dalla

      Bacause Saddam tried to kill my Daddy !!

      March 26, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tcarose

    Hopefully we can say goodbye to another when Cheney croaks.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Herkimer Schwartz

      He just bought himself a new heart. Or I guess I should say, we taxpayers just bought him a new heart.

      March 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh The Inhumanity

      Not likely to happen anytime soon. He's got a fresh new heart. I'm not sure I've ever heard of anyone his age getting a heart transplant. Someone that was a lot younger with years to be with their family should have received it. He's so selfish.

      March 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tcaros

    Hopefully we can say goodbye to anohter remnent of the war, Dick Cheney. Please croak soon.

    March 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. blessedgeek

    The symbol of the Iraq war was a pair of Iraqi shoes (made in China?) thrown at an insecure American cowboy.

    Insecurity can a lot of harm to a cowboy as well as the taxes he used to quell that insecurity.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Robert Johnson

    Good Evening,

    Smithsonian Officers are planning to stage a sickout on July 4,2012. And another date before then will be scheduled. Smithsonian Officers are planning to stage a sickout and a walkout to protest the contractors that are replacing us. We are unfairly being kicked out and shown the door by Upper Management. This is their way to save money and expenses. To protest this unfair method , Smithsonian Officers worldwide will be participating in this sickout. Hopefully Upper Management gets the message when the worlds most beloved treasure are shut down world wide . We are protesting and plan to protest until things change at the Smithsonian. We are leaking this to the media in hopes that this gets coverage and attention and puts a spotlight on this unfair travesty taking place. At this time the older veterans are being kicked out of their buildings with no place to go. Who knows what the next plan of action is. We are acting before Smithsonian kicks all of the federal officers out..

    Thank You

    Robert Johnson

    March 24, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mark J

    Made by International huh?? Thought they were gone years ago. 658k a copy? Wonder how many we bought?
    What DO we do with them now? Can't use them in the Afgan. war.. Debt? What debt? "Debt doesn't matter"
    (Cheney 2006-7). But hey, it's Obama's fault. Right? Romney-Santorum, that's what we need now. RIGHT?
    What if that was the GOP ticket this time? Maybe Romney-Gingrich? Nah.. No thanks!!
    Have a good day, see ya in 16..

    March 24, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. lifer76

    With a liberal socialist in charge all we get is excuses and apologies to our enemies and disarmement of our military. But that is what happens when sheep vote with their welfare checks

    March 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • pat carr

      and with cons we get endless war and wasted lives. oh yeah that is way better. Cons vote with other people's children's lives

      March 25, 2012 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Even you know what you just said is just a collection of fictional talking points. Try sticking to the truth. It tends to work far far better in convincing others rather than just trying to irritate others. Sticking to reality is rather important when you are talking about how our nation is going to be run. Paranoid fantasy and talking points don't do much to actually help anyone besides politicians.

      March 25, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. eyetothhesky

    Fresh ground pesto with grilled chicken and feta, tossed with penne. Cheney just credited himself a new heart at 71, because he is the most in need. There are no children in this country that need new hearts!

    March 24, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. bltdonahue

    he last time the Red Neck Right was in charge, this is what we got....disaster.

    "Gary Owen" my left cheek!

    Then we can thank the socialist left for WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.

    Good job.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lifer76

    Use them for iran in our next war coming

    March 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      Make sure you are first to volunteer, if you're so eager.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:26 am | Report abuse |
  13. eyetothhesky

    probably got a twenty-somthing heart too.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. toddrf

    At least with a war, it's eventually over. Obama and his idiotic Obamacare will bankrupt us forever.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • howlinjags

      Why do you think healthcare will bankrupt us forever. What is the alternative – and, how much does that cost? And, let me give you a hint – what we had in the past would bankrupt us before what we will have in the future.

      March 25, 2012 at 7:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Joshua Ludd

      Yeah, too bad investment in the welfare of our people will according to everyone who has actually crunched the numbers come with an economic benefit. And unlike the Iraq war which cost far more than the initial costs of even a universal single payer healthcare program, we actually get something out of healthcare reform.

      March 25, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Oh The Inhumanity

      @toddrf. You're an idiot.

      March 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      we have something setup just like obamacare and guess what? our National Debt is WAYYYYYY lower than yours

      March 26, 2012 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
    • WRG001

      Yeah, what a jerk...to think that we should care for each other as a society. Pfff...and what, he thought doctors would stop entering medicine to get rich instead of helping people? He's a fool. Free-market capitalism is the only way to go....can't afford cancer treatment? Well, too bad...should have been born rich or gone to medical school instead becoming a teacher, welder, police officer or whatever non-wealthy people do to pass the day. Obama you suck! We need aircraft carriers and new BDUs and a new rifle and more pipelines for our already flush oil stocks that are being sold overseas so that we can charge more at home. I'm with you Toddrf...could you imagine a society that was well-educated and healthy? Who the hell wants that?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  15. Larry L

    Good writing from somebody who cares.

    March 24, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • korkea aika

      i didn't write it because I don't care. the iraq war was a big mistake and anyone who signed up for it was also mistaken. That is what history will write about it, and some of us saw it before the error was committed.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
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