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ARLINGTON, Va. — As of Wednesday, 282 up-armored Humvees are on ships en route to the Mideast, adding to the nearly 6,000 in place, Army spokesmen said Thursday.

The U.S. military has 19,389 Humvees in Iraq and Kuwait, and 5,910 of the trucks “up-armored,” or built with a chassis that accommodates special armor.

Another 9,134 Humvees that do not have the heavy armor chassis have been equipped with add-on armor kits to protect doors, floors and other vulnerable elements, according to statistics provided to Stars and Stripes on Thursday by the Army.

Another 252 armor kits are in Iraq or Kuwait awaiting installation.

But that leaves 4,345 Humvees in the Iraq theater with no armor at all, a situation that Army leaders have pledged to remedy by April 2005.

Military leaders responsible for the Iraq theater, who are at the U.S. Central Command in Florida, have decided that they need no fewer than 8,105 up-armored Humvees in the Iraq theater, as well as an additional 13,872 add-on armor kits, Army spokeswoman Nancy Ray said.

That is enough armor to provide for all of the 19,389 Humvees now operating in the Iraq theater, as well as additional armor kits for different types of vehicles, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Nov. 17 hearing.

Until August 2003, the Army had only 235 up-armored Humvees in Iraq.

But last September, as improvised explosive devices began to take more and more of a toll on U.S. forces in Iraq, alarmed Army leaders decided to accelerate the purchase and fielding of so-called “up-armored” Humvees.

The Army has been working on getting armored Humvees in Iraq ever since, Schoomaker said Nov. 17.

“We had 235 up-armored Humvees in-theater last year, and then we got a requirement for 1,407, so we started chasing that requirement,” Schoomaker told members of Congress. “A month later, we got a requirement for 3,000, and then it went to 4,150, and then it went to 6,223, and now it’s gone to 8,105.”

In fact, as the requirement continued to climb, “What we now have figured out is, look, what the heck, we better up-armor everything we’ve got over there,” Schoomaker told lawmakers. “And that’s what we’re doing.”

Schoomaker told lawmakers that the entire requirement of 8,105 up-armored Humvees should be in the Iraq theater by April 2005.

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