Armor saving lives in Iraq, but bombs are getting bigger - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Armor saving lives in Iraq, but bombs are getting bigger

August 10, 2005

Albany- The humvee Willie Webb is working on will soon be a suit of armor surrounding Marines.

"It gives our soldiers one more opportunity, you know," said Webb, a mechanic at MCLB's Maintenance Center.

The Maintenance Center at Albany's Marine Base has supplied armor kits to 9,000 humvees for service men and women in Iraq. These machines, made by the hands of South Georgia mechanics, save lives every day. The problem is that insurgents are getting better at blowing them up.

"It's extremely difficult react to the insurgency but all we can do is anticipate, prepare for what we know," said Col. Kevin McCutcheon, Maintenance Center Commander.

What national leaders know is that this enemy is smart and creative.

"They've now figured out that a bigger bomb from their stand-point does more damage. Therefore, we've got to continue to adapt," said Senator Saxby Chambliss, (R) Georgia.

It may take more weight. But too much, could slow the vehicles down.

"Speed is a good asset for us in trying to avoid the IED's on the side of the road," Chambliss said.

So specialists are looking at how this protection on the outside is affecting the inside.

"We, in fact, have a number of projects where suspensions are being beefed up to account for that," McCutcheon said.

As mechanics work to arm new humvees, used ones are returning from war for repair, where workers may even find the dirt off a serviceman's boots.

"They know they're connected to something much bigger than themselves. And that connection makes them work even harder today, and tomorrow," he said.

Because every day after today, it could get harder to drive away a brutal enemy.

"We're doing our best to get inside their minds, but it's a challenge."

Webb says that stays at the back of his mind.

"And like I said, that gives you an extra incentive every day when you come to work."

Work that is vital to safely bringing home the men and women these machines are built to protect.

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