"Our experience is that Marines in these vehicles have been four or five
times safer than a Marine in an armored Humvee," Gates told members of the
House and Senate Sea Power and Expeditionary Forces subcommittees on May 10.
"Based on this experience, we recently decided to replace our armored
Humvees in theater on a one-for-one basis with MRAPs."
"My understanding is that the army has been recalibrating its interest
and has substantially increased the number of these vehicles they think they
can use," Gates said.
Officials said the US. military has ordered 7,700 MRAPs in an $8 billion
project. Gates has met U.S. Army and Marine Corps officials to explore ways
to accelerate deliveries of the 16-ton vehicles.
Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said MRAP was
the result of defense industrial cooperation with the military. But he
warned that the vehicle — which has been criticized for its huge size —
would not provide full protection against IEDs.
"There's no solution out there that's going to protect everybody from
everything all the time," Pace said. "What you try to do is provide the best
protection you can that still allows a soldier [or] Marine to be able to go
out and do the job they need to do."
U.S. commanders have urged the Pentagon to increase troop levels to
fight the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. On May 11, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the
U.S. commander in northern Iraq, asserted that his 3,500 troops were
insufficient to quell the insurgency in the Diyala province north of
Mixon, citing a request to Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the No. 2 commander
in Iraq, said the additional troops would be used in the counter-insurgency
offensive in Diyala. Diyala also contains 10,000 Iraq Army troops.
"I do not have enough soldiers right now in Diyala province to get that
security situation moving," Mixon told a Pentagon briefing.
In rare criticism by a U.S. commander, Mixon said the Iraqi government
was not supplying services, which he said was vital in any effort to weaken
the insurgents. Mixon said the Diyal government was no longer functioning.
"They are overburdened by a centralized bureaucratic process from
Baghdad and impacted by corruption and sectarian issues," Mixon said. "These
are areas that we must improve on over the next several months."