The Rock Island Arsenal Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center rolled out the newest armor kit to protect our warfighters May 8. The Fragmentation Kit Six or FRAG Kit 6, is the latest armor protection set for the Army's M1151 HMMWV.

The new kit boasts a number of improvements that are crucial to protecting the Soldier in the battlefield.

"One of the major differences is the boxes on the door," said Mike DeWitte, Production Unit Leader for Armor. "These boxes place more armor between Soldiers and projectiles. "

The new kit also boasts several safety enhancements as well. The kit comes with a Vehicle Emergency Egress Window.

"Adding the VEE window to the kit will allow Soldiers another way to exit the vehicle," Program Manager for the FRAG Kit 6, Phil Snyder said. "This window will help save lives."

RIA-JMTC has an order for more than 1,000 kits. In 2006, the arsenal produced over 6,000 FRAG 5 kits in a six-month time frame. The RIA-JMTC commander expressed his confidence in the workforce to deliver this crucial kit to those at the tip of the spear.

"This is a fine team and I'm very proud to serve with them," said RIA-JMTC Commander Col. Craig S. Cotter. "We all know this is a very serious business and we take it seriously. Our Soldiers are counting on us to do the best here."

The program manager for Tactical Vehicles echoed the importance of the kits that Rock Island was producing.

"The FRAG Kit 6 stretches humvee survivability to a new limit," said Program Manager for Tactical Vehicles, Col. Scott Kidd. "It is a limit that is highly necessary to a threat that we face today."

Also on hand for the roll out ceremony was Master Sgt. Jeffrey Mittman. Mittman was wounded by an improvised explosive device on July 7, 2005, while assisting an Iraqi Public Order Brigade in Central Baghdad as a member of the Special Police Transition Team. Since that day, he has worked to recover from the injuries he sustained. Mittman has seen the soft-skinned HMMWV used in Operation Desert Storm evolve to an armor platform that has saved countless lives and allowed warfighters to carry out critical missions today.

"Right here at Rock Island, you are producing the FRAG Kit 6, which is designed to defeat the specific weapon that hit me," said Mittman. "That FRAG Kit 6 will save lives on the battlefield."

As the first kits roll off the production line, the leaders and workforce know the importance of the mission that lie before them.

"Somewhere on a barren mountain top or filthy back alley somewhere our enemies are lying in wait. I will tell you that FRAG Kit 6 will give our Soldiers an edge. Enabling them to meet and defeat our enemies and come home safely to this land we love so much," said Cotter.