Transportation Systems project manager William Boruff, left, and Lt. Col. Graham Compton, United States Army product manager for allied tactical vehicles, were on hand Thursday at Navistar Defense in West Point to recognize employees for completing the first wave of 205 armored cab vehicles for delivery to the Afghan National Security Forces. Photo by: Micah Green/Dispatch Staff
April 19, 2013 10:16:10 AM
WEST POINT -- Navistar Defense armored cab testing representative Wesley Jenkins knows he has an important job -- keeping soldiers safe.
"I feel like this is the first job I've ever had that makes a real difference," Jenkins said. "You can actually say when you work here that you're saving lives."
Jenkins was among many Navistar employees honored Thursday for completing the first wave of 205 armored cab vehicles for delivery to Afghanistan. The Afghan National Army will use the vehicles, which are designed to protect military crews in high-threat battlefield environments. The company received orders to retrofit the medium tactical vehicles just two months ago. Navistar has already sent 48 such units to Afghanistan war fighters. The Afghan National Security Forces already have 7,000 medium tactical vehicles being used in theater, according to a Navistar press release.
Transportation Systems program manager and Colonel William Boruff was one of several on hand to thank the employees for their efforts.
"When I was out in February ... I saw hundreds of these in line going out to units. When you know folks doing the right thing, trying to fight terrorism are losing their lives and you give this capacity to them, they can do their job better and clear those routes," Boruff said. "We know we're doing the right thing as NATO forces and U.S. forces to get our folks home."
Navistar senior program manager Jim Mitroka said the company provides a "low-cost, but effective" means of protecting soldiers.
"We developed our armored cab solution five years ago, introducing it to the Afghan National Security Forces a year later. Today, we're standing in front of part of 205 vehicle orders to the Afghan National Security Forces, but what's even more exciting is the potential for additional orders," Mitroka said. "For additional life-saving measures, and for the role each of us can and will play in transitioning the U.S. forces out of Afghanistan next year. These are the vehicles that enable the transition of the security mission from the United States to the Afghan National Security Forces, and most importantly, these are the vehicles that will help us bring our soldiers home."
Jenkins said helping do that is why he enjoys what he does.
"We actually had some local National Guard guys from Tupelo and West Point come in and give us personal experiences of being in trucks that have been under fire ... and they were very grateful for the survivability of our units, giving them a way to get back home safely," Jenkins said.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
1. Local man charged in Holly Hills death COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Mullen: Change in beliefs leads to gridiron success STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY
5. 38 vying for Lowndes Co. spots COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY