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Soldiers of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team are installing some low-cost, homemade add-ons to their state-of-the-art military vehicles at Camp Taji to get an extra level of protection. The practice is common in-country as soldiers use metal tubing, bullet-proof glass, wire mesh and even "550 cord" to help them brave the roads of Iraq.
Soldiers Weld for Protection- 4/20/2009
Capt. Melissa Knox, commander of Company B, 328th Brigade Support Battalion (BSB), says bullet-proof glass surrounds mounted on top of BSB transport trucks give soldiers greater ability to scan for hazards from a protected position. She says the add-on also allows for greater use of weapons. Knox credits BSB soldiers for coming up with the design of the bullet-proof glass cupolas.
BSB soldiers have also been placing wire cages around their Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. Knox says battalion leaders looked at several designs before selecting the wire mesh configuration now in use.
Sgt. Laney Bankhead, of Warminster, PA, a platoon sergeant for the Company B Service and Recovery Platoon, says soldiers bolt two-inch by two-inch steel tubing onto MRAPS to serve as a base for the apparatus. Soldiers then weld outriggers onto the base and place Hesco mesh wire into slots in the outriggers. Cotter pins hold the wire mesh in place.
"We actually fabricate the mount from scratch," Bankhead says. "It's about eight hours of work to get one up and ready. We're not actually welding to the vehicle."
Cord attached to the bottom of the Hesco wire limits how far outward the wire can swing and allows soldiers to pull the bottom of the screen inward for tight squeezes on narrow streets. Bankhead says the idea of the mesh surround is to deflect hand-thrown explosive objects downward.
Knox says battalion soldiers have volunteered to work in the Company B welding shop in their downtime because they understand the importance of this add-on mission. The BSB began modifying its MRAPs and trucks in late March and hopes to have the project completed in the next several weeks.
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