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Mine-resistant vehicles save soldiers' lives: Gates

by Staff Writers
Colorado Springs, Colorado (AFP) May 13, 2008
The US military's new mine-resistant armored vehicles have proved much better than tanks at protecting soldiers from roadside blasts, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

Gates said six soldiers have been killed in 150 attacks on the so-called MRAPs, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

"The casualty rate is one-third that of Humvees, less than half that of an Abrams tank," he said in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation.

"These vehicles are saving lives and limbs," he added.

MRAPs ride higher off the ground and have a V-shaped hull that is designed to deflect the force of a blast.

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said only six percent of soldiers aboard MRAPs hit by roadside explosions have been killed or wounded, compared to 22 percent for armored Humvees.

Gates made the MRAP the Defense Department's top acquisition priority last year after learning that not a single US soldier had been killed in one.

The death toll has since gone up, including a recent incident in which a roadside bomb penetrated an MRAP's armor, killing two soldiers.

But Gates defended their overall performance.

The Pentagon has ordered 14,000 of the million dollar vehicles.

Over the past year, it has deployed 4,200 of the vehicles in Iraq, and 320 in Afghanistan.

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