Armored Humvees, Tactics Address IED Threats
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2004 American industry is cranking out armored Humvees as fast as it can, but other initiatives already have saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department officials said here today.
Pentagon spokesman Larry Di Rita said at a Pentagon news conference that in August 2003, industry was producing only 15 armored Humvees per month. "Commanders there at that point started to face this growing improvised explosive device challenge and said that they would like to have higher numbers of armored Humvees than they had originally projected," he said.
American industry responded, and today about 450 armored Humvees are being made each month. There are 19,000 Humvees in the U.S. Central Command area of operations. This area extends from Kazakhstan to Kenya. Of these, officials said, 15,000 are armored vehicles or have been fitted with armor.
In addition, the Army Research Lab developed armor kits that can be fit on regular Humvees. The Army's Tank-automotive and Armaments Command is making these kits.
The armor is needed because the IED is weapon of choice of the enemy. They plant these devices on the sides of roads and as targets go by, they use remote devices to explode the charges. IEDs can be anything from hand grenades rigged to garage-door openers to artillery shells wired to the cell phones. One blast was so powerful it overturned an Abrams main battle tank.
The armor helps, but the Army's IED Task Force also has helped. "While armor provides protection, it is not the be-all and end-all for security," said Army Maj. Paul Swiergosz, a DoD spokesman. "The Army's IED Task Force and the Center for Army Lessons Learned have provided as much, if not more, protection for our forces by sharing tactics, techniques and procedures to help counter IED attacks."
Officials would not be specific about the contributions of the organizations they don't want to provide information to the enemy. But another Pentagon official said, "We have saved more lives with tactics, techniques and procedures than with armor."
The Army is the lead service for combating IEDs, but all services contribute to the effort and all services benefit from the research, said officials.
The armor issue certainly is a high priority for the military. "People like having that security, that's for sure," said an Army spokesman. The Army is speeding up production of armor add-on kits not only for Humvees, but also for all wheeled vehicles that will be deployed to the CENTCOM area. To date, the Army has added armor to 507 heavy tactical trucks, to 492 medium tactical vehicles, to two heavy equipment trailers, to eight M-915 trucks and to 187 palletized load system vehicles.
The Army has four depots, two arsenals and one ammunition plant working on the armor kits. Overall production is in the 100s per month.
The Army has received $1.2 billion for armored Humvees and armor kits since the fiscal 2003 supplemental budget bill was passed.