Truth in testing: In depth survey aims at improving Army vehicles
February 25, 2009
BAGHDAD - A 24-member team from the Army Testing and Evaluation Command based out of Fort Hood, Texas, surveyed members of the Fort Polk, La. based 46th Engineer Combat Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade Feb. 23 here with regards to the RG-33L mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, a heavily up armored vehicle in use by the engineers for the last two months.
During their survey collecting mission, members of the ATEC team gathered approximately 90 surveys specific to the MRAP from 46th Eng. Bn. troops.
ATEC uses the surveys to correct deficiencies or make improvements to the new up-armored vehicles that protect Soldiers from combat hazards, such as improvised explosive devices. All total, ATEC has collected more than 900 surveys completed by Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last six months.
Sgt. 1st Class Jamie Walls of Killeen, Texas, who works for ATEC, has traveled throughout Baghdad to survey Army Soldiers who drive, ride in or work on the equipment.
"I'm doing something that might save a Soldier's life," Walls said. "I'd do anything to help bring home Soldiers safely."
Walls said the 'truth in testing' motto of the AETC represents their goal to provide true findings of what goes on with the systems the Army invests in and equipment they purchase.
Sgt. Stacy Kirby of Anniston, Ala., a truck commander for Company A, 46th ECB explained once a Soldier is in full 'battle rattle"; wearing all of his or her gear and ammo, maneuvering is difficult in the front seats.
"Getting in and out of the vehicle with the weapon, gear and ammo can be challenging," Kirby said. "Maybe the dimensions could be reconsidered."
Kirby appreciated the opportunity to speak about the vehicles so decision makers know the thoughts of Soldiers on the front lines.
"Only [those] experienced [with] using the vehicles can speak [to the realistic capabilities of the vehicle]," said Kirby. "You know the old saying, 'ask the horse.'"
The Army recently implemented changes, thanks to survey results that revealed safety hazards to gunners on the turret from low hanging power lines. To combat this risk, Soldiers used PVC pipe running from the front to the back in an arch to prevent lines from catching on the turret or antennas.
"Soldiers used their minds to mitigate the risk to the gunners," Walls said.
After listening to the concerns of the Soldiers, and seeing what the Soldiers did to combat the risk, all MRAP RG-33L's that come into country are now equipped with equipment to mitigate the hazardous electric lines.