Nearly three years into Chimpy’s vanity war and Out Troops! are still cobbling together Humvee armor to protect themselves.
Soldiers exposed to Iraq’s increasingly lethal roadside bombs, which can rip through armored Humvees, are drawing on wartime experience and stateside expertise to protect their vehicles with stronger armor and thermal detection cameras.
The upgrades are being done by individual soldiers and units as the Pentagon decides how Humvees should be changed, and follow public criticism of the Bush administration for not armoring all Humvees ahead of the war.
Nearly three years after rolling into Iraq in trucks covered in many instances only by canvas roofs, the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade is adding extra layers of armor to its Humvees.
Drawing on the part-time soldiers’ backgrounds as mechanics, electricians and carpenters, the 126th Armor Battalion based in suburban Grand Rapids, Mich., added thermal imaging cameras and a 6-foot boom that can be lowered in front of the Humvee. Dangling chains and an infrared countermeasure on the boom can help trigger explosives before the Humvee is directly over them, said Lt. John Caras.
U.S. troops in the past have hardened soft-skin Humvees by using upgrade kits or by whacking spare steel onto their vehicles, and the Army’s chief of staff now requires that all combat vehicles in Iraq be armored. The military now has more than 25,000 armored Humvees in the country.
Nearly all the 530 Humvees in the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based brigade, which is deployed to north-central Iraq, will be upgraded at a makeshift assembly line the brigade created at Camp Speicher in Tikrit.