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Marines Praise Versatile Light Armored Vehicle

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2001 – Visit the DoD "Public Service Recognition Week" web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/publicservice/.

The Marines want people to know about their unusual light armored vehicle that performed distinguished service during the Gulf War.

Staff Sgts. Russell A. Strack and Thomas E. Davis will answer questions about LAVs on display through May 13 on the National Mall between 4th and 7th streets here as part of Public Service Recognition Week activities. The two are assigned to Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Fort Detrick, Md.

The Marines use their eight-wheeled, amphibious LAVs for reconnaissance, artillery direction and "hit-and-run" missions. The vehicles replaced slower, tracked M-113 personnel carriers in 1985, said Strack, a Baltimore native.

"I look at this as a chance to show people what we do and where their tax money is going," said Davis, who hails from Wadsworth, Ohio.

The LAVs on display include a "25" scout version with a 25 mm cannon, Strack said, and a "tank-killer" variant that uses TOW missiles. The LAVs also come in mortar-, command- and-control-, supply- and towing-vehicle versions, he said.

Bristling with two machine guns and smoke grenade launchers in addition to the cannon, recon LAVs carry a crew consisting of a commander, gunner and driver, and four infantry scouts, Strack said.

At 14.5 tons, the Marines' rubber-tired LAV is petite compared to the 65-ton M-1 Abrams tank, he said.

"She's fast and versatile, but not heavily armored. We gave up the armor for more mobility and lethality -- and very dependable," Strack said. The LAV attains speeds of 60 mph and faster on hard surfaces. Crews don't need to worry about blowouts, he said, because the tires have hard inner liners and can run flat.

LAVs are equipped with twin aft propellers and rudders, Strack said, and although not designed for sea use, they can make 6 mph in calmer water found in rivers and streams.

Like the Army's Abrams tankers, Marine LAV crews distinguished themselves in the Mideast during Operations Desert Shield and Storm, he added.

"The Saudi Arabians liked it so much, it is one of the chief vehicles in their army now," Strack continued "Because we can move so fast, it is hard to hit us when we're rolling."

The LAV can be shipped or airlifted to hot spots around the world and could be considered a predecessor to a kind of light armored wheeled vehicle the Army is now developing for its future force. The Army model would also be air- deployable, but considerably bigger and heavier than a LAV at about 25-30 tons, Strack said.

The LAV isn't designed to go toe-to-toe against a heavily armored enemy. Its metal skin can only fend off 7.62 mm and smaller rounds, he said. However, he added, infrared-sight- equipped LAVs can scout and fight at night, and the vehicle excels at everything it was designed to do.

Public outreach initiatives like Public Service Recognition Week are important to the Marine Corps, said Staff Sgt. Sylvester K. Blandford, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Marines' PSRW displays.

"People can see and touch the equipment and ask the Marines: "What do you do?' 'What is this gear?' 'Why do we use it?'" said Blandford, a Philadelphian assigned to Headquarters Battalion at the Marines' Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStaff Sgt. Russell A. Strack sits in the LAV-25's commander's seat. Four of vehicle's eight rubber- tired wheels are in view. Strack manned the Marines' LAV exhibit on the National Mall in Washington as part of Public Service Recognition Week activities, May 10-13, 2001. He's assigned to Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Fort Detrick, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStaff Sgt. Thomas E. Davis examines one of the LAV-25's twin propellers. Davis manned the Marines' LAV exhibit on the National Mall in Washington as part of Public Service Recognition Week activities, May 10-13, 2001. He's assigned to Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Fort Detrick, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStaff Sgt. Russell A. Strack scans the National Mall in Washington from the LAV-25's commander's seat. He manned the Marines' exhibit as part of Public Service Recognition Week activities, May 10-13, 2001. He's assigned to Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Fort Detrick, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStaff Sgt. Russell A. Strack (from left), Staff Sgt. Thomas E. Davis and Brig. Gen. John F. Sattler, Marine Corps' chief of public affairs, check out a LAV-25's winch compartment. Strack and Davis are on hand at the Marines' LAV exhibit on the National Mall in Washington as part of Public Service Recognition Week activities, May 10- 13, 2001. The two are assigned to Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Fort Detrick, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore.  
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