MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
When Marines convoy through combat zones in Afghanistan, the mine roller system serves as one of the first lines of defense against improvised explosive devices. Mine rollers are designed to hook up to the front of tactical vehicles and come into contact and detonate IEDs before the vehicle carrying Marines does.
The third-generation Panama City Mine Roller System is a new version of the previous mine roller, and the Marine Corps has recently implemented it in combat operations overseas.
Marines on the East Coast are now exploiting a vital opportunity to practice with this life-saving equipment aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., before they are required to use it while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Right now, we’re learning how to put the PC Gen III together and what its characteristics are,” explained Cpl. Jose Cruz, a motor transport operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 8, who will soon set out on his fourth overseas deployment. “I’ve used the PC Gen III before, but this training helps us get to know the gear before we get in country instead of learning it out there when you need to get the job done right away.”
To Cruz, the mine roller is a piece of gear that simply helps him accomplish a mission. But, in the right hands, this particular piece of gear is capable of much more.
“We’re here to save Marines’ lives in country,” explained Miguel Camacho, the assistant training coordinator for Marine Corps mine roller home station training with Naval Surface Warfare Center, Panama City Division. “Based on the reports that we have seen, the mine roller has been effective in saving numerous lives, so we’re here to teach Marines what the mine roller can and can’t do, and how to maintain it at a forward operating base in order to effectively execute their mission from day one.”
The need for a mine roller upgrade came with the Marine Corps’ increased focus on operations in Afghanistan.
“Marines discovered that what worked in the urban environment of Iraq did not work in the often mountainous terrain of Afghanistan,” Camacho explained. “Our program manager and the project systems engineer went to Afghanistan to figure out exactly what a new mine roller needed to do to be successful in Afghanistan, and what followed was the Panama City Generation III.”
Upgrades include bigger tires, bolstered hydraulics and a durable, reinforced frame that can easily handle a beating while being driven through rough terrain.
For now, Marines are only allowed to drive the new mine rollers aboard base, because the system would be considered a wide-load on the highway. Marine officials are diligently working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation in hopes to allow the PC Gen III off-base, which would ultimately create the most comprehensive and beneficial training environment for the Marines preparing to use the system in Afghanistan.