WASHINGTON — The U.S. government has donated 250 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles to Iraqi security forces to protect them from the Islamic State terrorist group, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad announced Tuesday.
During the 2003-2011 Iraq War, insurgents used roadside and vehicle-borne bombs to inflict massive casualties on coalition troops. In response, the Pentagon built thousands of MRAPs to protect servicemembers from improvised explosive devices. The vehicles are credited with saving American lives.
The Islamic State has adopted similar IED tactics as Iraqi soldiers try to recapture territory taken by the militants last year. In a news release, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones described those weapons as “the number one threat” to the Iraqi security forces.
The delivery of the MRAPs was completed Sunday, according to the Pentagon. Of the 250, 25 went to the Kurdish peshmerga and the rest were given to the ISF.
“These MRAP vehicles provide increased ballistic and counter mine protection for Iraqi security forces,” Jones said. “These vehicles will save Iraqi lives and enable Iraqi security forces to win the fight” against the Islamic State.
The donated vehicles were sent from Kuwait, where they had been sitting since the U.S. pulled most of its remaining troops and equipment out of Iraq in 2011. The U.S. military has a large surplus of MRAPs, which the Pentagon has been giving away under the Excess Defense Articles program.
It cost the U.S. government approximately $500,000 to produce each MRAP, according to a Pentagon spokesman.