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Video Above: What comes after the Abrams? Assistant Secretary of Army Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Talks Future of Tanks

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven

Famous for saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s blast-deflecting, IED-stopping Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles are headed to Ukraine to counter Russian mines.

MaxxPro MRAP

The latest Biden Administration Ukraine “DrawDown Package” includes 40 MaxxPro MRAPs, blast-deflecting, soldier-protecting vehicles which blast onto the scene in large numbers during the ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands of the vehicles were mass produced and fast-tracked to theater to counter a fast-growing, lethal and devastating IED threat posed by insurgents in Iraq and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

First emerging in 2002 and 2003, the vehicles are engineered with a specific protected “capsule” and an underneath “V” shaped hull raised off the ground to deflect bomb debris and fragmentation to the sides. MRAPs are built such that the wheels may come off and the vehicle may fall apart, yet the core protective capsule remains intact to keep soldiers safe. 

After demonstrating an ability to save lives in Afghanistan in 2002, a 33-ton Buffalo MRAP vehicle made by Force Protection inspired the Pentagon, Iraq and Afghanistan commanders and Pentagon leaders to quickly recognize a need to quickly mass-produce the vehicles, given the scope and seriousness of the IED threat. As the Iraq war evolved, IED threats became more sophisticated and impervious to jamming. What might have begun with simple garage door openers to detonate IEDs as military vehicles drone by, evolved into elaborate, multi-frequency cell-phone detonated explosives able to destroy armored vehicles and injure or kill US soldiers. Thousands of US soldiers were killed and thousands more were injured. Many suffered catastrophic loss of limbs and became amputees.

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However, once MRAPs arrived on a larger scale, which included Pentagon efforts to buy, produce and deliver thousands of Navistar-build MaxxPro Dash vehicles, death rates from IEDs declined dramatically. Thousands of soldiers riding in MRAPs survived IED attacks and were therefore better positioned to complete attack, ambush and rescue missions.

A Pentagon paper on the latest drawdown says the “Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles with mine rollers that will allow Ukraine to neutralize areas heavily mined by Russia in the South and East.”

Following the large-scale and lengthy counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many raised the question as to whether MRAP vehicles would become obsolete or simply outlive the IED threat they were built to defend against. Others, however, were inclined to think that an IED threat to armored combat vehicles is not something which will disappear from future conflict but will instead likely reappear in various forms. Certainly a terrorist or counterinsurgency threat is not expected to completely evaporate, and various kinds of ground blasted or detonated explosives are certain to persist.

Such may be the case in Ukraine, wherein forces defending against the ongoing Russian invasion continuously face “mine” threats which could threat tactical and combat vehicles seeking to maneuver into position across Ukrainian terrain.

This would make a lot of sense for Ukraine, as they appear to be having success thwarting, stalling or even destroying Russian advances in the Donbas area of Eastern Ukraine. Given this, Ukrainian forces might want to advance across areas they have been defending as well as areas previously held by Russian forces. With MRAPs, Ukrainian forces could in effect “clear” areas of Russian mines, locate the mines and find routes for safe passage for Ukrainian infantry, vehicles and armored forces to advance. 

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven -the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President, Center for Military Modernization