Embedded journalists are giving Americans an inside look at war and the equipment needed to fight it. In any conflict, armored carriers that can quickly transport ground forces into battle, are a key component, and that's being done in the Iraqi desert with what is called the Bradley Fighter.
Because Lubbock is a training ground for the Bradley, NewsChannel 11 decided to give you a look at what American forces are experiencing. The Bradley is one of the most sophisticated and agile light tanks in the world, but as your about to see, agility and sophistication in the military does not mean comfort.
While the Bradley combat fighting machine was moving into battle zones in the Iraqi desert earlier this week there was one rolling across the southern plains of Texas. "This is the paramount vehicle that the military owns to get infantry soldiers into the field," says Texas National Guard Sgt. Jeffrey Muckleroy.
The Bradley's primary mission is to move troops to the battlefield safely, and it is widely referred to as the most superior vehicle in the world at accomplishing that task. "Here we have a .25 mm chain gun here. This is our main armament," says Sgt. Muckleroy. The Bradley is also equipped with a machine gun, a missile launcher and smoke canisters which launch smoke screens hiding the vehicle from the enemy.
It is indeed the most sophisticated and agile light tank in the world, but as Sgt. Muckleroy explains, it is not comfortable. "It's tight, it's cramped and it's hot," says Muckleroy. It's also a loud and bumpy ride.
At a maximum speed of 35 miles per hour, the fighting vehicle can handle virtually any terrain. It holds a crew of three: the driver, the gunner and the commander. It also holds six soldiers. The crew trains for six months to a year as a team before heading into any conflict.
For the past seven days, this has been home for thousands of coalition forces. Likely fatigued and at the brink of exhaustion just from the ride. No doubt hoping for quick battle and leaving this makeshift home behind for home sweet home. "The vehicles were not made for comfort. They were made for protection," says Muckleroy.
There are 6,700 Bradley armored personnel carriers in service. Roughly 20 of them are stationed at the National Guard Unit right here in Lubbock. The guard says since the conflict started enlistment's have increased.
If you're interested in the Army National Guard, call (806) 744-8671, or (806) 744-8672.