Camp Shelby Adding Armor To Military Vehicles

A private contractor is attaching plates of armor to dozens of military vehicles at Camp Shelby. Pennsylvania National Guard troops now training at the base will deploy to Iraq with those protected vehicles.

Military armor remains a "hot button" topic in the wake of criticism.

The "add on" armor program was actually up and running for many months before the firestorm of criticism over lack of armor on military vehicles in Iraq. But that critical look at the problem certainly brought new attention and priority to equipping the Humvees and cargo trucks.

A private contractor is installing armor plates on 46 Humvees and a dozen five ton cargo trucks. The vehicles belong the Pennsylvania National Guard troops now training for deployment to Iraq.

"The soldiers that are mobilizing here are glad to see it go on. They get a chance to see it and operate on it before they get over there," said maintenance officer Pat Lowery.

The heavy protective plates are designed to shield the troops from IEDs or improvised explosive devices, which are a common threat to American troops patrolling war torn Iraq.

You may concerns about inadequate armor on U-S military vehicles received much publicity last December during a meeting between Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and American troops in Iraq. A soldier asked Secretary Rumsfeld why troops were forced to salvage scrap metal from Iraqi landfills in order to "armor up" military vehicles.

"After all the needs and the IED explosions in Iraq, it seemed fit that we need to armor up our vehicles and provide the most security we can for our soldiers," said maintenance officer Jeremyu Coleman.

Camp Shelby is one of three military bases now assigned the task of adding the protective layer of armor to vehicles headed overseas. Coleman says armor plating the five ton cargo trucks provides both practical protection and peace of mind.

"That just is an intimidating beast anyway. And this makes the soliders and their families feel a lot more secure," he said.