Delivering MRAPs safely downrange

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Delivering mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles downrange to U.S. troops is vital to their safety and overall mission success. Logistics Airmen at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing show their commitment to making this happen safely every day.

The 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron’s process to send MRAP vehicles throughout the area of responsibility is designed to ensure the vehicle makes its destination and operates properly when it gets there. 

“If we don’t do a good job, it can cause the airplane to crash,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Burlingame, 386th ELRS aerial port operations superintendent. “The vehicle may not be air worthy and fail inspection in some way. It may also have explosives or hazardous material that if not identified can cause big trouble.”

Master Sgt. Michael Beswick, 386th ELRS special handling noncommissioned officer in charge, is one of eight inspectors responsible for ensuring the MRAP vehicles meet the necessary specifications to be transported downrange for use. 

“My focus is getting the cargo to people that need it,” said Beswick. “I’m not here to ‘wow’ people. I have friends downrange and I think of it like that. I’m just here to get my friends whatever they need.”

U.S. contractors present the vehicles to inspectors who use a checklist to determine whether it passes or fails. If for some reason it fails, the inspector identifies the reason, and what needs to be corrected, before it can be accepted by the inspector and flown downrange.

After it passes inspection, the load planning team determines how many MRAP vehicles will be flown in a C-17 Globemaster III and how they will be balanced inside the aircraft. Finally, once it gets onto the aircraft, it is secured by the ramp crew.

Understanding the process of properly restraining cargo and the consequences of a sudden weight change in the cabin is critical in making sure the aircraft makes it to its destination. 

“I like having a hands-on of what’s happening in the military and equipment being used downrange,” said Senior Airman Brian Dobbs, 386th ELRS ramp specialist. “It takes about four or five of us to load one MRAP safely.”

The frequency in which the vehicles sent downrange fluctuates but they reach all parts of the AOR. 

“Our team moves a lot of tonnage and it all goes into the fight to win the war or protect our troops,” concluded Burlingame. “Our mission supports the warfighter and when we send MRAP vehicles into theater, it saves lives.” 

MRAPs have proven to be lifesavers against improvised explosive device attacks, small arms fire, mines and ambushes. Furthermore, they are constructed with V-shaped hulls and a raised chassis design to deflect underbelly blasts.