Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula welcomes the RG-33 - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula welcomes the RG-33

BALAD, Iraq - Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula welcomed the newest addition to its arsenal - the RG-33 Series 4x4 Mine-Protected Vehicle.

The RG-33, also known as the MRAP for Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle, is designed to provide a survivability advantage to its passengers.

Many U.S. military units have recently adopted the MRAP, which has a number of configurations based on the customer's needs. CJSOTF-AP acquired the RG-33's with the U.S. Special Operations Command variant.

The SOCOM-variant vehicle provides special operations forces with a remote weapons system, a thermal driver's vision enhancer and a more robust communication system.

"The weapons system is more protective than that of the regular version of the RG-33," said a first lieutenant CJSOTF-AP convoy commander. "Having a Remote Weapons System is great for long movements because it puts the gunner in much less danger."

The MRAP has a V-shaped hull design and advanced armor for protection from improvised explosive devices, which are constant threats to U.S and Iraqi troops.

Additional features include swing arm mounts, internal seating for eight, rear door assist, integration for unique SOCOM equipment and another feature that's very welcomed by the end users - air conditioning.

Although it greatly outweighs the humvee at 40,000 pounds, the RG-33 has a relatively short stopping distance due to the anti-lock braking system. And since it sits up higher, the mine-protected vehicle provides the driver with a good perspective and field of view.

"Every mission is different. Every end state and intent is unique. And for every unique aspect, you need unique equipment, especially in our less-than-ordinary slice of warfare," said the first lieutenant.

MRAPs were first delivered to CJSOTF-AP earlier this year for distribution throughout the entire area of responsibility. Once new vehicles arrive, they are checked out and tested to make sure they are running properly before Special Forces personnel receive them down range.

After an MRAP is tested and ready for distribution it must be driven to the various classified locations throughout Iraq - a job that requires special training on operating and handling. Every person who operates in an MRAP must first take a week-long course which includes familiarization with the communications systems, disabled vehicle procedures, proper use of the rear door assist, rollover drills and, of course, the weapons system.

"I had to go through 40 hours of training on the weapons system and vehicle familiarization," said a staff sergeant vehicle operator.

The vehicle has been well received by the special operators. According to a chief warrant officer at Special Operations Task Force-West, a lot of the men say that the vehicle has about 80 percent of everything they want in a troop carrier.

"The RG-33 saves lives," said a SOTF-W chief warrant officer. "A lot of the operators say it's the first time they've felt safe rolling in a vehicle through Iraq."

The RG-33 SOCOM variant is fairly new to the fight in Iraq and is still being delivered and broken in. However, once fully integrated into everyday use by the CJSOTF-AP, this newest addition may prove to be a vital tool bringing security and stability to Iraq.

One author of this article, Tech. Sgt. Larry W. Carpenter, Jr., is deployed from Fairchild.

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