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National Guard, Jordan troops train on MRAP driving

By Sgt. 1st Class Shaiyla Hakeem | Area Support Group - Jordan | Feb. 12, 2020

AMMAN, Jordan – What is a vehicle that towers more than 9 feet, is used as a troop carrier and can withstand substantial explosive detonations?

It is called a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Wheeled Armored Vehicle. In-depth training on this vehicle was orchestrated by members of the Military Engagement Team-Jordan (MET-J), with 158th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), Arizona Army National Guard (AZANG), through a Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) with Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army (JAF) soldiers at a base outside Amman in January.

MRAPs are tactical vehicles that are ballistic and blast protected, designed to repel ambushes and improvised explosive devices. They weigh more than 34,000 pounds without add-on armored protection.

“As we move up the ranks, we must know the capabilities of the vehicles; the strengths, the constraints and the limitations,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Elvis Sierra. “Unimproved roads, night driving, uphill, downhill, and night vision driving are part of the (SMEE) training to enhance safety, awareness and poise.”

Sierra, assigned to MET-J, 158 MEB, AZNG, served as the primary instructor for the exchange.

During the week-long SMEE, Soldiers trained and practiced operating the MRAPs in an array of conditions, including rain and blackout conditions utilizing night vision goggles (NVGs).

“We must understand the difference in driving times to maintain situational awareness of the interior controls as well as the exterior roads,” said Sierra, “The night driving then prepares you for no light or NVG driving.”

MET-J facilitates and conducts military-to-military engagements with regional partners within U.S. Army Central to build military partner capability and capacity, enhance interoperability and build relationships. Sierra said he was honored to be part of the exchange.

“The JAF welcomed us and not only treated us as guests in their country but also maintained professionalism and positive interaction throughout the exchange.”

Checking in on the training each day was JAF Lt. Col. Essam Al-Qwassmah, a Jordan Border Guard Force battalion commander. He said the Jordanian Army trusts the American side as a partner and mentor.

“By the feedback I have had with my soldiers, they are very happy with this kind of (MRAP) training,” said Al-Qwassmah. “Your efforts are highly appreciated. This kind of training is very useful and beneficial for us.”

MRAPs have been used by the U.S. Armed Forces to combat the influx of improvised explosive devices and to transport troops. The vehicle has a deflecting-angled V-shaped hull or underbody, which reroutes blasts up and away from the compartment containing troops. There are several variations to the vehicle, which can accommodate seven to more than 11 personnel.

“Our soldiers respect your capabilities as instructors and can be trusted, and they are proud that they have this kind of training with the American side,” said Al-Qwassmah.

The U.S. military has a longstanding relationship with Jordan to support mutual objectives consistent with U.S. national interests. Jordan is one of the United States’ closest allies in the region.

“Exchanges like these help foster realistic relationships and strengthen each other’s confidence,” said Sierra. “We work to learn about cultural challenges and search for the common ground to enhance each other’s greater qualities while making everlasting friendships, partnerships and future global leaders to advance our tactical mindset and protect one another.”