Yesterday, Vice President Biden joined a Pentagon ceremony commemorating the achievements of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle (MRAP) Task Force—the men and women who helped accelerate the production and fielding of protective vehicles to our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, saving the lives of thousands of American service members.
An armored vehicle with a V-shaped hull, the MRAP was designed to deflect the explosion of road-side bombs (also known as Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs), which had accounted for 70 percent of our U.S. troops killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.
At the height of the Iraq war, U.S. field commanders submitted urgent requests to the Pentagon for MRAPs to protect their troops. Five years ago, then-Senator Biden helped lead a bipartisan Congressional effort that approved $23 billion to forward-fund MRAP purchases in order to accelerate production and deploy them to the field as fast as possible.
During his address to a crowd 350 Pentagon senior leaders, Vice President Biden praised the “remarkable leadership” of civilian and military personnel from the MRAP Task Force, as well as American manufacturers, who quickly turned that funding into 24,000 MRAPs in theater helping to protect America’s fighting men and women. He also thanked them for the 12,000 MRAPs currently in Afghanistan helping protecting 68,000 U.S. forces deployed there today.
Vice President Biden added that while our nation’s leaders have many obligations, they have only one “truly sacred obligation”: to equip and protect those who fight our nation’s war, and to care for those who come home from those wars.
Donald Cloud is Special Advisor to the Vice President for Defense & Intelligence