Engineers Get Route-clearance Vehicle Training in Afghanistan
By Army Pfc. Elisebet Freeburg
Special to American Forces Press Service
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, May 27, 2009 The upgraded Mk3 Husky -- the premier route-clearance vehicle in the Army’s Interim Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection Program -- is being fielded in Afghanistan after protecting soldiers in Iraq since 2003.
Army Pfc. Michael McKay assembles pieces of the Redpack mobile spare-parts unit during a three-day assembly process May 4, 2009, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Elisebet Freeburg
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The vehicles provide protection against roadside bombs.
Soldiers of the 4th Engineer Battalion here are fielding the vehicles. Defense Department contractor CSI has been training and supporting combat engineers in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning of the war on terrorism.
"We've currently got about four or five operational systems, which are two Huskies and one Redpack, in [Afghanistan] for the United States Army, as well
as other Huskies assigned to the United States Marine Corps down south," said Richard L. Lowdon, a CSI field service representative.
The Redpack, towed behind the Husky, carries spare parts, such as extra pulse-detection panels, and tools for assembly and repair. As a route-clearance vehicle, the Husky drives in front of convoys using pulse induction to detect metallic content buried underground. The system is extremely accurate in identifying the size of objects.
"We can actually track it down to where they can count nails in a board if they need to," Lowdon said.
Lowdon trained and supervised 4th Battalion combat engineers here as they assembled two Huskies at KAF. After an assembly process that began May 3 and took several days, he conducted driver training.
Because the Husky carries a single occupant, the driver is chosen carefully.
"You don't have the chatter you would have in a regular vehicle with a few or more soldiers in it,” Army Staff
Sgt. Timothy Brown, a 4th Battalion squad leader, said. “They're up front. They lead the way, so definitely they have to be mentally strong."
The Husky is designed to protect the driver in case of explosion. If the vehicles encounter a mine blast, Lowdon said, “the majority of injuries occur due to rollover, as well as stuff and personnel flying around inside the vehicle."
A four-point safety harness holds the driver in place, and the seat places the driver's spine in an optimal position to minimize back injuries. The driver's rifle can be secured into a special mount.
"I've driven in this vehicle for quite a long time,” said Army Pfc. Steven Warren, a combat engineer and Husky driver in 4th Battalion. "It's extremely safe. It's well put-together. I feel totally confident in this vehicle that it will protect me and safeguard my life."
(Army Pfc. Elisebet Freeburg serves with the Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan public affairs office.)