14 May 2014

Sherpa Just Bought Himself an MRAP Truck!

Charlie Sherpa poses in 'Kilroy defilade' with his new MRAP truck.
Sherpa just bought a new vehicle! And, rather than the Boss 302 Mustang about which he fantasized while in Panjshir Province—it's a happy, hulking MRAP truck! Or, rather, it's a portrait of one, rendered in pencil by artist and illustrator Aaron Provost.

On the Red Bull Rising blog, I've previously mentioned Provost's work here and here. He's an Iraq War veteran, Navy spouse, and a talented and funny guy.

As readers of the blog may have also detected over the years, I seem to have grown increasingly obsessed with MRAP trucks. I have, for example, stashed a personal cache of Matchbox-brand MRAP toys around the office. (Other links about Sherpa's war toy chest here and here.)

At my Des Moines barber shop, I recently found
the same May 2011 issue of Road & Track
I originally read at the 'Bull Pen' at FOB Lion,
Panjshir Province. Obviously, the Boss 302 and I
were meant to someday be together. Call it karma.
The recent acquisition of Provost's work, however, marks my first foray into fine art. And it was much more affordable than the real thing. Or even a Mustang.

In my opinion, the Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected truck is the signature ground vehicle—or rather, the signature family of ground vehicles—of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were designed to protected Improvised Explosive Devices (I.E.D.)—the signature enemy weapons of those wars. With V-shaped hulls to deflect undercarriage blasts up and away from the occupants, the vehicles are both top-heavy and very heavy. The most dangerous spot in an MRAP vehicle is probably the gunner's, who sits in a turret atop the truck, exposed to bullets, blasts, and rollovers.

Priced at more than $500,000 each, the 14- to 30-ton MRAP trucks mostly did what they were supposed to do: Save American and allied lives, whatever the cost. In a counterinsurgency effort, however—winning over a population with lots of handshakes and smiles—armored protection becomes problematic. After all, it's hard to win hearts and make eye contact through bullet-proof glass.

That said, I am a little distressed to find that many MRAP trucks are following the troops home to the United States. The Des Moines (Iowa) Register's Kyle Munson reports, for example, that seven Iowa communities—including Washington, Iowa (pop. 7,266)—have taken delivery of "free" war-surplus MRAP trucks.

Beyond the potential hidden costs and safety hazards of MRAP ownership and maintenance, I'm not sure I like what that says about the over-militarization of law enforcement in the United States. You can't be "Officer Friendly" in an MRAP. I'm not saying police don't need tactical equipment and training, but does Smalltown, Iowa really need bomb-proof trucks to serve and protect its citizens? Heck, does any Iowa town?

If they wanted one so badly, maybe city leaders should have just bought a nice picture of one.

That's what I did.


For artist Aaron Provost's business Facebook page, click here.

For an on-line shop featuring his original artwork—including helos and Howitzers—click here. If you see something that he's done elsewhere that isn't listed here, he says, make sure to zap him a message!

He also takes commissions, including one recently executed for Treadswift Tactical, LLC. Provost's illustration "Recon On" (which I think should be alternately titled "OP Yorick") is available as a signed and numbered print here.

His military-themed and other commercial illustration work can be found here and here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.