Arms and Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Alliances in the Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry

By James Hasik | Go to book overview

7
Drop Your Purse
Force Protection and Blast-Resistant Vehicles

There are a lot of crusades I've been on, and they're all about saving lives. This is a good
one.

MIKE ALDRICH, vice president of marketing, Force Protection


Introduction

Except to his friends, family, and comrades, Private First Class Alva Gaylord's death might be considered unremarkable: seventeen other U.S. soldiers and marines died that week in Iraq, and more died later from injuries sustained. What made PFC Gaylord's death particularly notable to planners in the Pentagon and the defense industry was his vehicle: he was riding at the time in an RG-31 mine-resistant vehicle (MRV) built by BAE Systems' OMC division in South Africa. The RG-31 crew was part of Captain Jeff Hyde's Company C of the 110th Engineer Battalion of the Missouri National Guard; the team was on a long route-proving drive up and down roads around Baghdad looking for roadside bombs toward to which to vector the battalion's explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams. The 110th Engineers had a large area to cover. C Company was based in Scania, a major convoy-refuelling center off Highway One about 100 miles south of Baghdad, and covered the roads all the way north to the capital. The battalion headquarters and B Company were based there, while A Company (attached to the battalion from the 164th North Dakota Engineers) was in Balad, about fifty miles north of Baghdad.1

PFC Gaylord wasn't even the first to die in an RG-31: Staff Sergeant Gavin Reinke and Specialist Bryan Quinton of the U.S. Army's 5th Engineer Battalion had died the day before in Baghdad in their RG-31 while passing by another bomb.2 These deaths were, however, the first three in any MRV in Iraq, and PFC Gaylord wasn't, strictly speaking, in the vehicle at the time. He was riding exposed through the top, behind the ring-mounted machine gun; he died from the shrapnel that the bomb threw in his direction. The vehicle itself “suffered only minor damage in the form of a few chips in the ballistic glass.”3 Had PFC Gaylord been behind the ballistic glass, manning a remote-controlled machine gun by a joystick, he would not have even been seriously hurt. As such, the RG-31 had a very low fatality rate in Iraq, protecting its riders rather

-111-

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Arms and Innovation: Entrepreneurship and Alliances in the Twenty-First-Century Defense Industry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • 1: The Fast and the Many 1
  • 2: Dream Teams and Brilliant Eyes 17
  • 3: Unmanned, Unafraid, and Underscoped 32
  • 4: Five Bombs in One Hole, and Cheaply 54
  • 5: Dili and the Pirates 76
  • 6: Mountains Miles Apart 98
  • 7: Drop Your Purse 111
  • 8: The Two Towers 136
  • Notes 153
  • Index 185
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