The U.S. military has begun using Bahrain as a staging area to deliver the new MRAP-All Terrain Vehicles to Afghanistan, military officials said.

The vehicles are being transported by ship to Bahrain and then flown into Afghanistan, officials say. So far, 130 vehicles have been delivered this way, said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

The military began flying the M-ATVs from the States last fall, but more can be delivered at one time by ship, more economically.

Officials selected Bahrain over shipping the vehicles to Rota, Spain, or Diego Garcia.

However, Speaks said, "Nothing is off the table for future logistics opportunities."

The U.S. Navy in Europe has sent sailors from bases in Italy and Spain to Bahrain on temporary assignments to provide additional security during the M-ATVs’ arrival, Navy officials said.

CENTCOM hopes to ultimately move about 1,000 vehicles per month to Afghanistan, including 750 new M-ATVs designed specifically for Afghanistan. The remaining 250 will be traditional Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles transferred from Kuwait or Iraq to Afghanistan, Speaks wrote Friday in an e-mail.

The Defense Department has authorized a total of 10,600 MRAPs and M-ATVs for troops in Afghanistan.

Built by Wisconsin–based Oshkosh Corp., the M-ATVs have an independent suspension system, putting less stress on the axles; a powerful engine, allowing them to go up steep slopes; and a lower center of gravity, preventing rollovers.

The M-ATVs are lighter, 25,000-pound versions of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, which can weigh between 40,000 and 80,000 pounds and have proven too heavy for Afghanistan’s poor roads and rugged terrain.

"We are projecting the full requirement of M-ATVs and MRAPs to be delivered to theater sometime in the November/December time frame, to support the additional 30,000 U.S. troops deploying to Afghanistan in support of [International Security Assistance Force] operations," Speaks said.

As of Thursday, the military had delivered 1,569 M-ATVs to Afghanistan, mostly by plane. A total of 924 of them have been fielded to U.S. troops.

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