Military honors Force Protection

ABC News
Shawn Smetana
October 31, 2008

Saving lives of soldiers on the front lines, today Force Protection is honored by the military for their work protecting U.S. forces in combat. A soldier with two tours of duty talked about his time on the ground, and how he owes his life to the men and women of Force Protection.

It’s one of the most dangerous jobs in combat and one Staff Sergeant Kelly Minkler did everyday. He and his team located and disarmed roadside bombs or IED’s. Prior to 2005, Minkler did not have the protection of the MRAP Cougar.

“We go outside the wire and do our mission regardless of what equipment is given to us,” said Minkler.

He watched as the first Cougar was delivered to his unit, the best vehicle money could buy.

“You can tell just by looking at it, the difference in the level of armor and the amount of protection you have,” said Minkler.

The real test came during one mission Minkler detailed to hundreds of Force Protection employees. His team disposed of ten roadside bombs, two exploded beneath his vehicle, even shielding the soldiers from a rocket propelled grenade. Not one soldier injured during the attack.

“These vehicles are what is saving everyone’s life, you can sustain every kind of explosion that I have ever experienced myself and I know they work,” said Minkler.

The future for these men and women remains uncertain. The military cut back on orders of late. There is also increased competition in the MRAP field. Force Protection unveiled the Cheetah today, a smaller, more agile version. The company says future operations will depend to a large degree on how well the new model performs.

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