Washington, D.C. – U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces Ranking Republican Jim Saxton (R-NJ) delivered the following opening statement at today’s subcommittee hearing on U.S. Army force protection in Iraq:
“To our witnesses, thank you for being here. I know that you both work this issue 24-hours a day, seven days a week and that for you it is both professional and personnel. We are very fortunate to have each of you serving our country, and we are very fortunate to have you here today.
“As the threat to our military personnel continues to evolve, force protection requirements must continue to change accordingly. We as a subcommittee need to be reassured that all force protection programs are being accomplished expeditiously, that the services are communicating with one another, and that every effort is being considered to meet new force protection requirements. Every day, we must be able to confidently say that we are doing everything possible to provide our warfighters the protection they need and deserve. At the same time, there is only so much protection we can place on our soldiers before they can’t walk. Or only so much armor we can put one our wheeled vehicles before they constantly roll over.
“In this regard, I am very interested in learning even more about the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP). It is my understanding that the Army and the Marine Corps are going to acquire and field MRAP to partially replace and supplement Up-Armor Humvees in theater in order to meet an urgent warfighter requirement. These vehicles should mitigate or eliminate the three primary kill mechanisms of mines and IEDS: fragmentation, blast overpressure, and acceleration. Our witnesses recently gave us a very good classified briefing on MRAP and I know that the source selection process is still under way so there are certain things that our witnesses can’t say. However, I would like to hear assurance from our witnesses that we are not going to turn this MRAP program into a 10-year acquisition program and that we are not going to make the same mistakes of the past where the government doesn’t own the Technical Data Package. And finally, not to get into any source selection sensitive information, but we need to hear from you that the industrial base is positioned to meet this urgent requirement.”