Acquisition of Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected (MRAP) Vehicles: A Case Study
By: Jacques Gansler, William Lucyshyn, William Varettoni
As the largest and fastest industrial mobilization since World War II, the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicle program is a testament to the scale and efficiency possible when government and industry collaborate with a sense of urgency, patriotism, and pragmatism. Public pressure over rising casualty numbers, intense political scrutiny, and support from the highest levels of government all combined into a set of unique circumstances. Given great uncertainty in the nature of future security issues, however, urgent and unforeseen needs will frequently press the procurement system. The MRAP program, precisely because of its size and scope, brings into sharp relief the merits and deficiencies of the current system for rapid acquisitions.
Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were the number one killer of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response to increasing IED attacks, the Defense Department began adding armor kits to High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) and procuring up-armored HMMWVs. Even with added armor, the HMMWV’s flat bottom made it vulnerable to buried IEDs. Beginning in early 2005, field commanders made formal requests for mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles. These vehicles – essentially armored trucks – have V-shaped hulls and high ground clearance to deflect and diffuse bomb blasts. A small number of MRAPs were in theater as part of explosive ordinance disposal teams. They had a reputation for survivability - about 400 percent safer than a HMMWV. Despite earlier requests for MRAPs to be procured for use in combat missions, it would take until November of 2006 - almost two years later - for MRAP requirements to be validated and a request for proposals to be released.