Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) issued the following statement today following the Pentagon's announcement that it will increase its order for Mine Resistant Vehicles:
"Two months ago, I called on the President and Defense Secretary Gates to make building Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles for our troops in Iraq a national priority. Road-side bombs are responsible for 70 percent of casualties in Iraq - they are by far the most lethal weapon used against our troops. These new MRAPS can reduce those casualties by two-thirds.
"I was very pleased to learn today that the Pentagon has decided to more than double its order for Mine Resistant Vehicles - from 7,774 to 17,770. Now, the Pentagon must provide us with a plan to budget for and build these vehicles over the next six months, as well as the proven technology that protects against so-called Explosively Formed Projectiles (EFP) that strike from the side. As soon as we return from the July 4 recess, I will ask Congress to go on record in the Defense Authorization bill to make it clear -- without absolutely no ambiguity - that we will provide every dollar needed to build these vehicles. As long as we have a single soldier in Iraq, we must do whatever it takes to provide them the best protection possible."
Sen. Biden has been a staunch proponent of getting more Mine Resistant vehicles on the ground in Iraq as soon as possible. Sen. Biden introduced an amendment to the Senate's FY 2007 Supplemental Appropriations Bill on March 28, 2007. The amendment accelerated MRAP funding to meet the military's growing need for these life-saving vehicles by adding $1.5 billion to the emergency spending bill. Sen. Biden's amendment meant the military can deploy 2,500 more MRAPs into the field six-months sooner than planned. In addition, Sen. Biden has repeatedly called on the Administration to investigate the military's delay in building and deploying Mine Resistant Vehicles. Last week, Senators Biden and Kit Bond (R-MO) sent a letter to Sec. Gates requesting answers to the bureaucratic delays regarding urgent war-fighting needs from the field.