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MRAP team celebrates accomplishments

By Pamela Jackson, Public Affairs Specialist | | September 15, 2011

Since 2007, a team of individuals at Marine Corps Logistics Command has been involved in ensuring warfighters were equipped with mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles.

Chris Berry, director, Joint MRAP Program Support Division, Program Support Center, Logistics Command, previously noted between 2004 and 2006, the military was losing a lot of warfighters to improvised explosive devices, and the capability was needed to protect them.

Berry said these vehicles have undergone many improvements to protect the lives of military men and women, and in June 2007, the secretary of defense labeled the MRAP program as the number one priority to support the warfighter.

“As a result of that direction, the effort began to grow significantly and Logistics Command became a large part of the support effort to quickly meet their needs,” he said. “MRAP is the ultimate team (effort) because there is no single individual who can do this alone. We are all part of a team that has done a tremendous job.”

Berry has evidence on the importance of the work done on MRAP vehicles, which includes a photo in his office of the inside of a vehicle previously hit by an IED. The photo has the words written by a Marine who was in Iraq that reads: “This truck saved my life as well as five others on April 2, 2008, in Iraq.”

Berry said testimonies like this remind him of the importance of his work. The Logistics Command’s MRAP Program Support Division is a small part of the overall Joint MRAP Vehicle Program Office that encompasses elements from Marine Corps Systems Command, Quantico, Va.; Tank, Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, Mich.; and Joint Program Office forward deployed.

The accomplishments of the MRAP team earned them the 2008 David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award as recently acknowledged by Maj. Gen. Charles Hudson, commanding general, Logistics Command.

“The award was received for rapid development, innovative acquisition and accelerated fielding efforts of the MRAP family of vehicles,” Ken Brown, deputy director, MRAP Support Division, said. “In support of the Overseas Contingency Operations, the JMVP responded with inspirational speed and resolve to our joint warfighters’ urgently identified need to thwart our enemy’s increasingly effective use of IEDs.”

An excerpt from the award citation noted the acquisition excellence exhibited by the MRAP Vehicle Program has resulted in an accelerated industrial base build-up and government/industry partnership not seen since the onset of World War II.

It also noted the Joint MRAP Vehicle Program Office has done an outstanding job of facilitating their people to do their jobs, evidencing trust in their professionalism and empowering them to achieve incredible results from 2007 to present.

“I was honored to be able to present this award to the MRAP Team and I know from my own personal experience, the MRAP vehicle is an excellent example of innovation that is saving Marines’ lives,” Hudson said.

“Keeping our focus on that young lance corporal in harm’s way keeps us grounded,” he said. “We are here to ensure that Marines can conduct operations in reliable and safe equipment. It was my privilege to present this well-deserved award to the MRAP Team. Job-well done.”

Brown said the Logistics Command’s MRAP team was instrumental in recommending and developing a hybrid MRAP sustainment strategy. The strategy combines organic support and a broad capability of commercial partnerships via the JPMO.

He also said the hybrid strategy has flourished since 2008 resulting in a three year operational readiness average of 86 percent for the approximately 35,000 MRAP vehicles produced by five original equipment manufacturers and fielded across all services.

According to the Web site, http://www.dau.mil/acqawardspackard/default.aspx, the David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award, sponsored by the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, recognizes Department of Defense civilian and/or military organizations, groups, or teams who have made highly significant contributions demonstrating exemplary innovation and best acquisition practices.

This award reflects achievements that exemplify goals and objectives established for furthering life cycle cost reduction and/or acquisition excellence in DoD.

“During my many civilian deployments at JPO Forward in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, I met a number of Marines and soldiers who survived a blast in an MRAP between 2007 and 2010,” Berry said. “I also had the opportunity to meet four Marines in late 2007 while in Iraq, who survived a major blast in their MRAP vehicle, which was blown over 20 feet in the air.”

Berry said it was important to understand they were in a 45,000 pound-plus vehicle and all four of the Marines walked away. The worst injury was from one Marine hitting his head on the dashboard.

“This is one of many instances where Marines and soldiers expressed their experiences when an MRAP protected them and their crew from serious injury,” Berry said. “That is the importance of this program. There was a public outcry to protect these guys and we’ve done so.”