Michael Gilbert, the Tacoma, WA, News Tribune journalist embedded with the Stryker brigade in Iraq, was kind enough to respond to an e-mail about the burned out Stryker I posted on yesterday.

I took that photo about a week ago while the Stryker was still stored on the back of the HET they used to tow it in from Samarra. I can only assume the Army Times photo was taken later, as the vehicle is on the ground and as you note the slat armor has been removed. I have not walked back out to the site to see the vehicle again.

I imagine that the Army is interested in looking the wreck over, hoping to find a clue that might help them prevent a recurrence. As you may recall, an improvised explosive device started an engine compartment fire that the crew was unable to put out. The entire vehicle was eventually destroyed.

Mr. Gilbert also writes

I did go over and look at the second Stryker I mentioned in my story. You may be interested to know that literally the only damage to the vehicle was the destruction of the left front wheel. The crew drove the vehicle to safety. A mechanic was on site at the battalion motor pool the next day making repairs.

I’m impressed that Mr. Gilbert replied at all, let alone so quickly. His coverage of the Stryker brigade’s deployment has been top-notch and I recommend it to anyone interested in our newest armored vehicle and them men who man it.

His latest story covers the 1-14 Cavalry, which have stepped up patrols and reconnaissance since the rocket and mortar attack on FOB Pacesetter a couple of days ago. They much prefer being on the move to manning checkpoints, and they figure that they’ve been shot at more than anyone else in the brigade so far.

Gilbert also notes the muck and slime they encounter when it rains. We’re accustomed to seeing the dry, dusty Iraq, but

It doesn’t take much rain to turn the base camp into a muddy bog. In the 24 hours Monday through Tuesday evening, Camp Pacesetter had accumulated about one-tenth of an inch.

But just that little amount of water is enough to put 10 times that much mud on every soldier’s boots. It’s thick, sticky stuff – mostly clay that bakes dry in the sun and wind and then turns to instant sludge in the rain.

The Stryker guys made the Army Times photo gallery again today.


This picture is from today. We’re all gearing up for Christmas Eve while they’re loading up for operations. Let’s not forget them (and all the other servicemen and -women in Iraq and across the globe) while we celebrate.

Speaking of Christmas Eve, here is a pic of a Stryker brigade soldier receiving some gifts from home.

Merry Christmas.