As part of the Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa’s mission to enable regional actors to neutralize violent extremist organizations and enable regional access and freedom of movement, Uganda and Burundi will receive a new mission asset.
CJTF-HOA, in part with the Department of State funding and managed by the Marine Corps Systems Command international programs office, will transfer 20 repurposed Mine-Resistant Ambushed Protected vehicles to the African Union Mission to Somalia Troop Contributing Countries of Uganda and Burundi, providing a mission capable vehicle and added security from the daily attacks regional partners are undergoing in Somalia.
“ The work that has been completed by CJTF-HOA and the other organizations to be able to provide these 20 MRAPs to Uganda and Burundi, has been extremely vital to enabling our East African Partners, to fight off violent extremist, “said Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, CJTF-HOA commander. “These vehicles will provide better security and movement to the troop’s contributing countries (TCCs) to complete their mission more effectively.”
The MRAPS, previously used for missions in Afghanistan, were donated under the Excess Defense Articles program and will receive a second life in East Africa. ManTech Field Service Representatives (FSRs), contracted by the Marine Corps Systems Command International Programs Office, have been working diligently in Mogadishu since September to get all 20 vehicles up and running.
The 20 MRAPs will replace the current vehicle in use, the Casspir, and allow for the phasing out of 20 Casspirs when all the MRAPs have been delivered. The MRAPS will build upon the capabilities that already exist plus much more, once they are refurbished.
According to U.S. Army Maj. Myesha DuBose, CJTF-HOA J4 Somalia Planner, the biggest issue was finding a creative way to accomplish the maintenance on the vehicles with limited space and funding constraints. Several repairs were completed through a controlled substitution plan. This creative innovative approach will ensure as many vehicles as possible would be operational while we await the remaining parts shipments.
“We didn’t realize the challenges we would face in Mogadishu with getting land and getting fuel for these vehicles,” said DuBose. “At the end of the day we 12 of the 20 that are in operational conditions, and the final eight will be operational in the near future. The FSRs have been an incredible workforce to accomplish this task.”
The refurbishment of the MRAPS has been a huge and coordinated effort by all parties involved, fostering teamwork and finding solutions not normal to daily operations.
As part of the agreement of donating the vehicles, the contingents are receiving drivers training and maintenance training from the Field Service Representatives to ensure the proper use of equipment. Additionally, the FSRs will provide continual maintenance of the vehicles for a year, to ensure necessary repairs are completed and extend the life of the vehicles.
The initial set of MRAPs will be transferred to the Ugandans and Burundis by the end of January and beginning of February.
“This is huge for Uganda and Burundi to be receiving the MRAPs, as they were driving Casspir’s. The MRAPS will provide enhanced capabilities to our partnerships, with increased security,” DuBose said. “The TCCs are extremely grateful for the vehicles and knowing that this will help save lives makes the mission that much more important.”