Thursday, January 20, 2011

Afghanistan Through My Eyes - LATV & MRAP

This was my ride in Afghanistan when I traveled around Nowa the area I was at in the Helmand Province. It's an LATV...Light Armored Transport Vehicle. One of the few acronyms that made sense.

When traveling by convoy you usually have an MRAP sandwiched between two LATV's. An MRAP is 3,6000 pounds, 10,000 pounds heavier than the LATV. It can absorb an IED blast and doesn't need a mine roller. The convoy always has at least three vehicles. The first LATV has a mine-roller attached. In December they lost 28 mine-rollers alone. There has been an increase in IED activity. IED's are improvised explosive devices, homemade bombs.

Inside the LATV you have the Driver, the VC, Vehicle Commander who follows the route on a computer screen, a gunner who sits suspended in the center and pivots around with his machine gun and another troop. I would sit behind the VC.

The windows are very small and made of bullet proof glass. There was always at least one bullet hole disconcertingly right at the Drivers head or VC's head. 

Regardless of the bullet holes, mine roller and really heavy armored doors, I felt very protected and at times really enjoyed the scenery, like the graceful bedouin tents set against the orange and pink desert sunrise complete with camel silhouettes right off of a postcard.