By Pfc. Jennifer Kennemer, 16th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentOctober 1, 2009
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany - Soldiers from the 501st Military Police Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division, began working with Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles during their pre-deployment training at the Grafenwoerhr Training Area Sept. 28.
The MRAP vehicle is designed to counteract the improvised-explosive device threat in Iraq and Afghanistan and has been in service since 2002.
The 501st MP Co. Soldiers trained on the MaxxPro, a MRAP vehicle built into the frame of a dump truck, equipped with more than 10 tons of armor and a V-shaped hull that deflects the blast from explosions sideways.
MRAP vehicles are also equipped with a fire suppressant system. Sensors located on the bottom of the vehicle are able to detect a vehicle fire. Using technology similar to a fire extinguisher, it can contain the fire before it can cause extensive damage to the vehicle or harm the Soldiers inside.
"It is a proven fact that these vehicles save lives," said Staff Sgt. Roberto Delrio, a light wheel mechanic and certified master driver, who has been with the 501st MP Co. for three years. The upcoming deployment to Iraq will be his second deployment with the unit.
The training is an introduction to the MRAP vehicle, said Delrio, a Chicago native.
Soldiers learned about the specific features and capabilities of the vehicle, including the location of the escape hatches. Delrio was uncertain what model of MRAP the Soldiers would be using downrange but said the basics were universal.
"The division is assigned 2,500 MRAPS in theater," said Sgt. Maj. Paul Vallade, 1st AD logistics and maintenance sergeant major. "The MRAP will more or less replace the humvee [High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle] for all operations conducted outside the wire."
It is the perfect vehicle for operations in Iraq, he said.
Five MRAP vehicles were made available for training.
"It's great to be able to see what they (the MRAP) can do here, so you feel confident with it when you go downrange," said Pfc. Kevin Wolf, 501st MP co, from Kissimmee, Fla. Wolf is new to the Army and the unit but is looking forward to deployment and working with the MRAP vehicle.
"To me, it's just like a big, armored school bus," he said. As a gunner, Wolf said that he appreciated the height of the vehicle and the advantage it provided to line of sight.
The next step for the 501st MP Co. will be driver's training on the MRAP. Soldiers will practice driving the vehicles in a variety of terrains to better understand the handling and distribution of weight.