Delivering MRAPs safely downrange
By Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr., 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 05, 2018
SOUTHWEST ASIA --
Delivering mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles downrange to U.S. troops is vital to their safety and overall mission success. Logistic Airmen at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing show their commitment to make this happen safely every day.
The process that the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron goes through 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 meticulously 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 and how they will be balanced inside the aircraft. Finally, once it gets onto the aircraft it gets 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 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 war fighter and when we send MRAP vehicles into theater it saves lives. [Our efforts help] save American lives and project the force needed to win wars.”
The MRAP vehicles 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.