Yes, the vehicle of choice for fighting the counterinsurgency war in Iraq is now 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 brand 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 have 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.
The MRAP featured in this video is was in Albuquerque, New Mexico for Law Enforcement Day which was held at a local area Target Store. This MRAP is stationed in El Paso, Texas at The Homeland Security Investigations Office. MRAP is a Mine Resistant Armor Protected Vehiclehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MRAP
Homeland Security Investigations has 26 Special Agent in Charge (SAC) principal field offices throughout the United States. The SAC offices are responsible for the administration and management of all investigative and enforcement activities within the geographic boundaries of the office. The SACs develop, coordinate, and implement enforcement strategies to ensure conformance with national policies and procedures and to support national intelligence programs. SACs coordinate law enforcement activities with the highest level of Federal, state, and local governments, as well as intelligence organizations and international law enforcement entities. In addition, SACs supervise all administrative responsibilities assigned to the office and ensure a responsive Internal Controls Program is developed.
To efficiently manage their designated geographic regions, SAC offices maintain various subordinate field offices throughout their areas of responsibility, which support the enforcement mission. These subordinate field offices, Deputy Special Agents in Charge (DSAC), Assistant Special Agents in Charge (ASAC), Resident Agents in Charge (RAC) and Resident Agents (RA), are responsible for managing enforcement activities within the geographic boundaries of the office