AL ASAD, Iraq -- During the beginning stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, many U.S. casualties came as the result of inadequately armored vehicles being struck by improvised explosive devices.
Now, as the struggle to establish a free and secure Iraq continues, those who are trying to throw the country back into chaos have developed larger and more destructive IEDs to target U.S. forces.
The U.S. military has employed a number of tactics to stay a step ahead of insurgent attacks, and perhaps the most successful is the Marine Armor Kit, an upgrade to the Humvee A2s.
Master Sgt. Stephen A. Mobley, the II Marine Expeditionary Force liaison officer to the Marine Armor Installation Site in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, said the armor upgrades are all about protecting Marines.
“It stops rounds and helps stop (the impact of) IEDs,” he said.
Additional side panels, ballistic windows and an armored underbelly are among the individual additions part of the MAK.
Master Sgt. David B. Wikler, the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing maintenance management officer, says the added armor weight reduces the lifespan of the Humvees. To counteract that, each vehicle is given better suspension before being outfitted with the MAK.
Captain Matthew S. Juhl, the project manager for armor upgrades, said the MAK upgrades have lowered combat fatalities sustained in Humvees for the Marine Corps in Iraq.
“It’s superior protection against IEDs, mines and small-arms fire,” he said.
The MAIS team has been incredibly successful in armoring vehicles in theater. Maj. Reginald T. Williams, the officer-in-charge of the MAIS, credited the civilian employees with much of the success.
“We’re only facilitators of the armor upgrades,” he said. “These civilians are doing a lot of the work, and that’s mighty patriotic of them.”
They’ve worked so well, Mobley said, they’re running out of vehicles to install the MAK on.
“I need trucks,” he said, explaining that at the current rate the MAIS facility will run out of vehicles to install the armor upgrades on. He encouraged all commands that might not have all their vehicles upgraded to do so.
Mobley said the benefits of the MAK are just too great to not take advantage of.
“The biggest phrase I’m hearing is that Marines love the MAK Humvees because it gives them more protection,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about, saving Marines lives.”