Marines back in the Vikings "They are phenomenal"

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Marines back in the Vikings "They are phenomenal"

Post by Guest on Sun 09 Mar 2008, 10:35 am

The Viking All Terrain Protected Vehicles have proved so effective on operations in Afghanistan that the Marines who drive them are back in Helmand. And there is no other vehicle they'd rather be in. Report by Danny Chapman.

The Viking is a Royal Marine asset, but due to their popularity the demand for their use is high amongst all troops patrolling and conducting operations in Helmand. Consequently, the demand on the Marine's trained to drive them is high too.

To help alleviate the pressure on the two units from the Royal Marines' Armoured Support Company that operate the vehicle, a third unit, from the Queen's Royal Lancers A Squadron, has been trained and recently deployed to Helmand. They are the first Army unit to operate the Viking on their own:

"They have experience of using armoured vehicles," said Major Jez Stemp, Officer Commanding the Royal Marine Armoured Support Company. "Although the Viking is different to what they have used before, that experience won't go to waste."

The reasons for the Viking's success is pretty clear: their armoured shell offers a high degree of protection, and their tracked wheels mean they can go to places most other vehicles can't, as Major Stemp explained:

"They are phenomenal. Their greatest asset is their all terrain mobility. The Taliban tend to mine known routes, but the Vikings can manoeuvre around them and go off road.

"The flip side is its high demand across the Task Force, so the guys are in constant use and the tempo of activity is high."

Amongst those guys are three Royal Marines who arrived on their second deployment to Bastion in December 2007:

"I'm happy to be out here. I know we're saving lads lives, and the whole CASEVAC [Casualty and evacuations] and humanitarian side is important," said 23-year-old Corporal Simon Whitby.

The Vikings are used to taxi troops into Helmand's more inaccessible terrain, and can also be used as ambulances to withdraw casualties from such areas.

Marine Tom Aylett, aged 22, also serving with the Royal Marine Armoured Support Company and back in Bastion for the second time explained his job:

"We put the lads in the back of the wagon, drop them off to do operations and attacks with the Vikings. I drive it and man the gun on top."

Cpl Whitby is on the Viking training team back in the UK and the last course he conducted was with the Army, who he added have always been experts with armoured vehicles. He has been working with the Viking for three years and despite feeling that, like all armoured vehicles, the Viking is too thirsty for fuel, said:

"Apart from that I can't fault them at all. I am actually in love with this vehicle! You couldn't ask for a better vehicle. It can go anywhere, it doesn't need set patterns and it's not restricted to certain routes."

Major Stemp explained why the Viking is so good:

"The Viking was brought into the Royal Marine Corps five or six years ago. It was a new concept, as we'd not had protected mobility before. We put in a wish list of what we wanted from a vehicle and the MOD fulfilled this."

Another Royal Marine back in Bastion from the Royal Marines' Armoured Support Company is Lance Corporal Dean Walker, aged 21. He said:

"The Viking opens up a lot more operations. We can move where, with and who we want."

"The battlefield is a fast moving place and the Viking is capable of keeping the enemy on the back foot," asserted Cpl Whitby.

And Marine Aylett added:

"They provide us with a lot of protection and allow us to get closer to the enemy. It's very reliable, can go up a hill and never gets bogged down like other vehicles."

The Vikings, according to Cpl Whitby, are easy to drive, although LCpl Walker added it's a bit tricky in the sand. They are both trained to drive the vehicle and to operate the guns, up in the turret which now has a new design offering more protection than the previous one, which left the gunner exposed from the waist up. And, as Cpl Whitby said:

"With the General Purpose Machine Gun spinning round and firing at the enemy, they keep their heads down. The resources we're getting for the Vikings are fantastic, especially considering it's only been on operations since September 2006."

All three Marines were last in Bastion between January and July 2007:

"I'm loving being back," said Cpl Whitby. "I'd much rather be back here than sitting back at home."

LCpl Walker though pointed out one of the major concerns of an Afghan deployment:

"Everyone's scared of mines," he said.

The Viking is not a tank. But then that's it strength, its mobility allows it to avoid the roads and routes where most mines are laid. And in actual fact, added LCpl Walker, it's armored shell offers the soldiers inside as good protection as other armoured vehicles:

"Injuries do happen," he said, explaining that on one occasion a Marine was injured due to a vulnerability of the Viking, which for obvious reasons we won't specify here but, he added, an upgrade is now in place:

"It proves the MOD is spending their money, a guy gets injured and new kit is being looked at."

One person who didn't get injured was the driver of a Viking awaiting repair at Camp Bastion. LCpl Walker pointed to where a direct hit had been stopped before meeting its target, the driver's head, by the Vikings' protective design:

"You see that and think, thank f*** we've got this kit," he said. "You'd still s*** yourself if you were sitting there though," he nervously laughed, "but it's a great example of how it's doing its job."

Provided By: MOD -


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Re: Marines back in the Vikings "They are phenomenal"

Post by Charpoy Major on Wed 16 Apr 2008, 1:31 pm

Don,t throw stones at me but it looks like a superannuated Bren Carrier, the "Mess Tin" W.W.2 vintage. oop,s, ducks head!
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