Saturday, January 24, 2009

Huskies help Marines lead way in Afghanistan

Date written: Jan. 21, 2009
Story by Lance Cpl. Monty Burton

CAMP BARBER, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Marines are employing a unique piece of equipment that’s helping lower the threat of improvised explosive devices in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Operation Gateway III, which involved the clearing of southern Afghanistan’s IED-laden Route 515, marked the first time the Route Clearance Platoon of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), used the Husky tactical support vehicle in combat operations.

The Husky, equipped with an Interim Vehicle Mounted Mine Detector to detect hidden metallic explosives, is similar in construction to the mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle, also known as the MRAP, with a V-shaped undercarriage to direct the blast away from the vehicle and protect its driver.

Its single-operator cockpit is fitted with armored steel, ballistic windows and an on-board automatic fire extinguisher. The vehicle detects IEDs with its IVMMD, which employs both metal detection and ground penetrating radar sensors to find the deadly IEDs.

“This is a very safe vehicle,” said Andrew Jorgensen, the lead field service representative of the Husky[s1] . “There have been a lot of safety upgrades to ensure the operator is well protected. I have known operators to have had an explosive detonate underneath this vehicle, and then 15 minutes later they are outside taking pictures with the vehicle.”

First Lt. Samuel Murray, the Route Clearance Plt. commander, said his Marines feel very secure in the Husky.

“This is an overall better vehicle than previous models,” Murray said. “If a mine were to detonate underneath the vehicle, I am sure the operator would come out of it just fine.”

During Operation Gateway III, the upgraded Huskies proved to be effective after encountering pressure-plate IEDs that detonated beneath the vehicles. Reports confirmed that the vehicles sustained mostly minimal damage that did not require outside assistance to repair and no injuries were reported. In most cases, the vehicles were back on the road in less than two hours.

Once the Husky’s IVMMD detects an IED, it sounds an alarm to the operator in the cabin.

“The sensors on the IVMMD pin-point exactly where the explosives are hidden,” Murray said. “Once we figure out where it is, we mark it using water-based paint.”

The finding is then exploited by explosive ordnance disposal teams.

The Husky has also been used in Iraq since 2003 to battle the threat of IEDs, and now the vehicles are a vital asset for saving lives and completing the overall mission in Afghanistan.

“The Husky keeps us from having to put Marines on the ground to sweep for mines,” Murray explained. “Although this isn’t the sexiest job in the Marine Corps, it is a job that has to be done and we are well prepared to handle it.”

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