Yes, the vehicle of choice for fighting the
counterinsurgency war in Iraq is appearing on U.S. streets. This video
posted to YouTube shows an officer with the Department of Homeland Security's
El Paso Special Response Team showing off one of DHS's 16
brand semi-new MRAPs (remember:
that acronym stands for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected).
This MRAP has been modified to carry "operators" (not officers -- it's as if we're sending SOF teams to serve warrants now) riding shotgun on the outside of the vehicle or inside the heavily armored truck while they service "high-risk warrants." Notice the firing ports below the windows, which are thick enough to stop a .50 caliber bullet.
Whether justified by the criminal threat or not, the notion of MRAPs loaded with "operators" who are tricked out in what used to be special-ops gear performing law-enforcement duties - like serving a warrant -- seems a little creepy. Wouldn't the normal armored trucks that SWAT teams have used for the last 30 years cut it?
While law-enforcement agencies have a long history of buying military surplus gear and even borrowing military tactics for special situations, the term MRAP and "operator" immediately conjure images of military operations to subdue insurgencies among local populations during the last decade's wars.
As one would expect, tales of DHS buying 2,700 MRAPs from the Army (in reality, DHS only has 16, a fleet that it started building around 2008) inflamed the government conspiracy corners of the blogosphere. Just do a quick Google search of the term DHS MRAP and you can see for yourself.