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Badgers headed for Baghdad
By U.S. Navy MC2 Elisandro Diaz, MNSTC-I Public Affairs
Apr 9, 2007 - 6:52:32 PM
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An Iraqi soldier prepares to drive an Iraqi Light Armored Vehicle, also known as a Badger - into Baghdad from Taji Army Base for Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon - Operation "Enforcing the Law" March 31. (Photo by U.S. Navy MC2 Elisandro Diaz)
Blackanthem Military News, TAJI, Iraq - The Iraqi Army just got a boost to its battle capabilities with the delivery of 40 new troop carriers at Taji Army Base March 31.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division picked up the newly arrived Iraqi Light Armored Vehicles - also called Badgers - to take into Baghdad in support of the Baghdad Security Plan.
 
The 40 initial vehicles are part of the 398 Badgers ordered for delivery this year under the Iraqi government's modernization program. The $390,000 cost of each Badger includes training in the operation and maintenance as well as a two-year comprehensive maintenance program including oil changes, brake checks and fluid checks, among other items.

Jim Hines, Site Manager for the company that built the vehicles described several of the Badger's features that make it ideal for taking the fight to the enemy. The troop transporter can carry eleven soldiers, including driver and navigator within a "V" shaped structure designed to deflect blasts away from the vehicle while protecting those inside. The Badger's armored plating is capable of withstanding improvised explosive device and mortar blasts as well as small arms ammunition.
 
"This vehicle can take us into the red zone," said Iraqi Army Sgt. Mohammed, a Badger driver. Mohammed joined the Iraqi Army two years ago and is assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, known as the Muthanna Brigade.

The Badger is outfitted with a gun turret for a large caliber machine gun. A weapons holder is built into each seat to hold weapons securely while in transit. The ergonomic seats feature a four point safety harness similar to those on race cars which unfasten quickly for a speedy dismount. There are five entry and exit points on the vehicle, including doors for the driver, another for the navigator and a hatch at the rear of the vehicle. There is even an exit hatch at the top should the other exits be blocked and the gun turret can also serve as an exit if necessary.
 
The vehicle also features two fire suppression systems. The first protects the passenger compartment while the second extinguisher protects the engine and transmission.

According to Hines, the ILAV begins the journey in the U.S. where it is manufactured by Force Protection, Inc., then shipped to Iraq and finally trucked to a site in Taji where it undergoes final assembly, installation of the gun turret, an inventory of all components, and a road test.
 
Hines explained that prior to taking delivery, soldiers are put through a vehicle validation training course - where they learn how to operate and maintain it.
 
Hines described the 80-hour operators course which takes  drivers through the vehicle's operation, preventive maintenance, and use. There is also a 160-hour maintenance course which focuses on the Badger's upkeep and unit-level maintenance needs.
 
According to Tim Lollis, Maintenance Team Supervisor for Force Protection, the Badger is a robust vehicle that is made to last. It is manufactured from medium duty truck components and weighs 38,000 pounds fully loaded - the weight of 20 medium sized cars.
 
It is all-wheel drive, has a push-button automatic transmission and, propelled by a Caterpillar diesel engine capable of reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour over uneven terrain and 55 miles per hour on paved roads.

"The ILAV is very powerful, maneuverable and easy to operate - it was made to be a repairable vehicle - not disposable," Lollis said. "It is designed to put soldiers into the fight within an area of protection where they can make a difference - they can enter a war zone and not get killed before they get there," said Lollis.
 
Mohammed, an Iraqi soldier who attended the operator's course described how he felt after learning to operate the large vehicle, "If you learn how to swim, you can swim in any water."

"I am proud to be the driver of this truck because it belongs to the Iraqi people - all Iraqi people," Mohammed said.

Mohammed, who shared that he makes good money as a heavy equipment welder, is an example of soldiers that are joining the army not for pay or benefits but out of a sense of service to country.

"I did not join the army for the money - I joined to help the Iraqi people," said Mohammed, and I like to drive big trucks."

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 
Iraqi Army soldiers stand ready to load their equipment onto their Badgers before driving into Baghdad March 31. (Photo by U.S. Navy MC2 Elisandro Diaz)
The 19-ton Badger can seat 11 soldiers, including a driver, navigator and gunner within a "V" shaped structure designed to deflect blasts. (Photo by U.S. Navy MC2 Elisandro Diaz)

An Iraqi soldier climbs into a Badger for the drive to Baghdad from Taji Army Base in support of Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon March 31. A total of 398 Badgers are to be delivered this year as part of Iraqi military's modernization program. (Photo by U.S. Navy MC2 Elisandro Diaz)


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