By Spc. L.B. Edgar
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq For soldiers traversing the streets of Baghdad, there is no such thing as too much protection. Whether it's safety in numbers, cover from enemy fire or even armor on their vehicles, soldiers, who routinely serve outside the wire, possess an insatiable appetite for life-saving commodities.
To feed soldiers a hearty helping of armor for their Humvees, Army Material Command (AMC) enlisted the expertise of soldiers to help put armor between troops and enemy attacks.
The 98th Maintenance Company, 393rd Corps Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, Multinational Corps-Iraq, lent 24 of its soldiers to AMC to expedite the enhancement of Humvees in the Baghdad area, which are regularly exposed to enemy threats. The soldiers work at the Baghdad International Airport Vehicle Enhancement Site, said Capt. Cedric Harris, the shop officer.
The soldiers with 10 months of experience repairing, fabricating and most importantly, armoring vehicles jumped onto one of two assembly lines, which convert two to three vehicles each day, said Staff Sgt. Thompson, noncommissioned officer in charge for vehicle enhancement, 1st Maintenance Company, 541st Corps Support Sustainment Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade.
The assembly lines outfit Humvees, with safety features, communication systems, the latest enhancements and of course, new-improved armor, said Thompson, who hails from Las Vegas, Nev.
A vehicle set to be enhanced visits five stations on the assembly line. At the first station it is stripped down and prepared. The second is door supports, followed by additional armor and then new doors, which have safer, easier-to-use combat locks. Then it receives a new electronic turret and shield at the fifth station. Finally, every Humvee is inspected for quality assurance and quality control before departing, Thompson said.
The only other modification to the Humvee is increased air pressure in the tires to compensate for the added weight, Thompson added.
Thus far, the site has enhanced more than 460 vehicles in approximately two months, Thompson said.
The troops working on the assembly line do what they can with their tools to keep soldiers as safe as possible, Thompson said. "We want to keep soldiers safe. That is what we preach every day: keep the soldiers outside the wire safe."
The light-wheel vehicle mechanics as well as combat engineer mechanics of 98th Maintenance Company were easily incorporated into the assembly line because they were also concerned with the safety of their comrades in arms, Harris said.
"We know we are making a difference and have helped save soldiers' lives," said Harris, who hails from Chicago. "We have a belief that the work we're doing will save lives. A couple of units came back to our site and praised us for the work we had done on their vehicles because they were hit by IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) or ambushed. They told us, without a doubt, because of the work we did, it helped save their lives."