BAGHDAD, Iraq - A team of Soldiers, civilians and contractors gathered Feb. 20 at the Victory Base Complex to celebrate fielding the 10,000th Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle.

The event demonstrated force protection of servicemembers remains the number one priority in theater with over 10,000 vehicles being fielded by CENTCOM across Iraq since April, 2007 bringing a proven capability to reduce combat deaths and casualties associated with improvised explosive devices, mines and other explosive threats.

Pvt. 1st Class Derek Sharp of the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, and Greenville, Mich. native received the ceremonial key to the special MRAP as part of the ceremony.

Highlighting the importance of the vehicles for Soldiers like Sharp, Brig. Gen. Michael J. Lally, commanding general of the 3rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) said, "As a result of American ingenuity, hard work and teamwork - Pfc. Sharp will be able to receive this ten thousandth MRAP knowing that thousands of Americans from Texas to Baghdad were 100 percent behind the effort to provide the safest and best protected vehicle possible."

First fielded in April 2007, the MRAP quickly became the number one acquisition priority for the Department of Defense. In order to expedite the delivery of these vehicles, multiple contracts were awarded expanding the capacity to produce the MRAPs. Lally noted during his speech that the 3rd ESC received its first MRAP in June 2008 and now has a fleet of about 600.

The 3rd ESC has yet to lose a Soldier operating the vehicles.

After being presented with the ceremonial key, Sharp climbed into the driver seat and pulled away to the sound of a cheering crowd. When asked how he felt being part of this ceremony Sharp said "It feels pretty good, at least I know there are a lot of these getting out to Soldiers."

The confidence that the Soldiers have in this vehicle were highlighted by the actions of Lally who traveled from Joint Base Balad to the ceremony in a MRAP.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16