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. pretty sure

    seems almost certain every SINGLE comment on her, despite different posting names, comes from the same jerk

    must be lonely, sitting at home on a Saturday night, only comfort is to write garbage on a CNN blog

    March 24, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny

    BAD WRITING from somebody who does not know any better. Not all US Soldiers in Iraq made it home for the holidays as promised by Obama in OCT 2011. The last US troops and MRAPs out of Iraq are still in Kuwait. 1st BCT of the 1st Cavalry did not go home to Ft Hood when they left Iraq, they just moved and stayed in Kuwait.

    March 24, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      BAD WRITING not one soldier should have been in IRAQ... Osama bin Laden was why we invaded Afghanistan he was 100% the creator of 911... but some BUFFOON declared him a non issue and invaded iraq instad.
      Iraq #2 oil producing country in OPEC brilliant move by that buffoon interrupting the oil making the worlds economy collapse and so OPEC doesnt even have to meet to lower production to raise prics anymore. thanks bush worse president in US history

      March 25, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Gizella

      Absolutely horrible article. I got to see my brother a few weeks before the holidays on LEAVE and then he was promptly shipped back to Kuwait where he is currently twiddling his thumbs doing NOTHING. They have completely been FORGOTTEN.

      March 25, 2012 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan S

      Come on, Johnny; there's nothing wrong with the writing in this article. I tip my cap to any of our troops who are still in that theater of operations, but heavens, with all the really bad writing in the world, including on CNN.com, don't pick on this article, just because the lady didn't mention your favorite Cav unit.

      March 25, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh The Inhumanity

      Most of them did return, including my son. There will be military there for years to come.

      March 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. marvin

    Goodbye! Welcome to Iraq.

    March 25, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nigerian

    @marvin. Welocme "help yourselves" you mean. Suck it down while you can America. Enjoy! But we're gonna wean you off of all those drugs that make you want to eat more and make you want more of everything else, incl. se/x and violence. Anyone spreading HIV will be in orison, and the economy will perk-up worldwide. Happy Days will be here again. i get to be Ralph Mouth.

    March 25, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • TheOttomanMan

      But first you need me to wire you my bank information so you can deposit 1 million dollars. Isn't that right my Nigerian prince.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lenny

      oh okay.

      March 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • 6Cobra

      Wha..? That has to be the most incoherent post I've ever read..

      March 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nigerian

    And so you think I should just stand here and watch America suck our oil and do nothing? As our own children starve? As being a Muslim forbids joining with the invading infidels?

    March 25, 2012 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Native American

      You forgot to offer us this great opportunity:
      If we send you our bank account info, you will deposit the 12 million dollars that your deposed uncle has been unable to access.
      By allowing you to use our bank account you will give us half.

      March 25, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • goneballistic

      No Nigerian. We think you should look toward your own government and hold them responsible. MAN UP OR BOW OUT!

      March 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. marvin

    @Nigerian. Who am you think you is? I'm done talking about Iraq. Go Iran! [next]

    March 25, 2012 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Theo Retro

    Theoretically speaking, invading Iran would cut China off of about a million barrels of oil per day. Ain't gonna happan. Prices at the pump doubling are one thing. Wal-Mart's another. LMAO. (GOOD ONE, EH?)

    March 25, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Libsrtryants

      Please don't harass China. We need to help them to prosper at every turn. They sustain our way of life. Western civilization will collapse if they run into trouble and stop loaning us money.

      We don't want to kill our host.

      March 25, 2012 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Oh The Inhumanity

      Stop being dramatic. Gas at the pump has NOT doubled

      March 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pat carr

    How many american lives and how much american money was wasted on this horrible fraud of a "War"

    March 25, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
    • bspurloc

      according tot he GOP in bush denial NOTHING absolutely nothing it was free. 50,000+ injured and 5000+ that lost their lives hush hush

      March 25, 2012 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Libsrtryants

      Not any, in my opinion. But, since it's over, we may as well argue about Vietnam or Korea or WWII, as argue about Iraq.

      Instead, can we focus on the death machine that is Afghanistan?
      Can't we ALL agree that we should get out of there immediately?
      Please. Let's not sacrifice anymore of our people for that vain cause.
      What's the difference if the Taliban run the joint when we retreat in 2 long deadly years from now, or if we retreat tomorrow?

      March 25, 2012 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  9. bspurloc

    u mean gravy

    March 25, 2012 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. PhatMo

    You should write stories. You'd be good at it.

    March 25, 2012 at 3:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. DJ

    Writer did not do his homework...There are several variants of the MRAPs vehicles...International is one of the most complicated and most expensive vehicle to work on...As a field service rep and instructor it was an honor and priviledge to do my part for our men and women in the armed forces!!

    March 25, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. JGinNJ

    "... a testament to the American men and women who fought in the war." And also a testament to the Iraqis who fought against the invasion although badly outgunned by resources, technology and training, as represented by this vehicle.

    March 25, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. PanzerJager

    We need enemies more enemies.

    March 25, 2012 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Libsrtryants

      'We have met the enemy and he is us.'

      March 25, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joshua Ludd

    Yeah, we all remember when they were introduced.. YEARS after they were needed.

    March 25, 2012 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Libsrtryants

    Really, General Fearless?

    It definitely and absolutely was completely and totally un-connected to the surge in any way, Mr. All-knowing?

    March 25, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
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