Faster and lighter than a Stryker. More protected than a humvee. A smoother ride than a Mine-Resistant Armor-Protected vehicle. More suppressive firepower than all three.
Soldiers of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division’s Military Police platoon trained on their new M-1117 Armored Security Vehicles, or ASVs, for two weeks, and tested them on ranges here, Monday and Tuesday.
The brigade is one of the only units on JBLM to have the turreted, all-wheel drive vehicle introduced more than a decade ago.
Both the 3rd and 4th brigades of the 2nd Inf. Div. have six of the multi-layer armor vehicles that provide ballistic, blast and overhead protection.
“We did our training with the (3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.) MPs and trained side by side with them,” said Spc. Anthony Keeton, a 4th Bde. military policeman.
Because 4th Brigade’s Soldiers weren’t licensed on or issued the ASVs yet, Raider Brigade Soldiers trained in 3rd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. vehicles. Keeton, reflected on how his sister brigade recently began forming its MP platoon last fall.
“I think it’s a little bit significant because we were the first MPs to be (assigned) to a Stryker brigade and now they’re falling in under a Stryker brigade, so it’s a new experience for them,” Keeton said.
After classroom instruction, the 4th Bde. MPs learned how to start the vehicle and decipher the driver’s panel, then apply what they had learned in the vehicle.
“What we did in the classroom was supported by our hands-on training,” Keeton said.
Soldiers learned the responsibilities of the driver, tactical commander and gunner, and how cross training is important during operations, Keeton said.
“Just because I’m TC-ing the vehicle, I also know the driver’s responsibilities. I also know gunner’s responsibilities, because you never know what’s going to happen and if you’re going to have to step in,” he said.
For Sgt. Geoffrey Hillers, who rode in Strykers throughout his 2009-2010 Iraq deployment with the unit, the jury is still out on the ASVs.
“Right now I’m kind of up in the air about it,” Hillers said. “I think I just need a little more time to get used to it since we’ve only been learning it for about a week and a half.”
After familiarizing themselves with Strykers during the year in Iraq, switching to a new vehicle is going to take time.
“It’s different. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of repetition to start getting used to the weapons systems or the vehicle itself,” Hillers said.
Another MP, Spc. Kyle Zimmerman, prefers the more spacious Stryker over the four-seat ASV, humvees and the sometimes bumpy ride of an MRAP.
In at least one scenario, however, he said he’d rather be TC-ing inside his new vehicle.
“Let’s say our convoy takes an IED followed by an ambush. This would be a great vehicle to go ahead and cover that downed vehicle, lay down some suppressing fire power while the vehicle’s recovered,” he said. “That’s one of the functions as an MP – security for convoys and such.”
The impressive firepower of the vehicle is part of its appeal to the MPs.
During the range portion of training, Soldiers fired both the MK-19 40mm grenade machine gun and the M-48 .50-caliber machine gun mounted on top of the ASVs.
Zimmerman, Hillers, and Keeton agreed that ranges are necessary when learning how to use the new vehicles.
“It’s a good chance for them to get hands on the weapon and actually fire it,” said Zimmerman, who noted that most of his peers haven’t fired either gun since basic training.
With the vehicle’s firepower, mobility and protection capabilities, it is another combat multiplier for the brigade.
“I feel it’s a great asset that we now have,” Keeton said.