Shoultz still hates the Stryker

Stryker: Army’s Multimillion-Dollar ‘Lemon,’ or ‘Excellent’ Lemonade?

Lonnie Shoultz, first mentioned on MO in early August, is still campaigning hard against the Stryker. He doesn’t really have anything new to say, but at least this article plays down the “sitting ducks” and deathtrap talk that he usually shares with anyone that will listen. This time he’s noted in a story.

One of the most common complaints is the Stryker is too heavy to meet its original requirement of being able to be transported aboard C-130 aircraft ready to fight when it hits the ground. Because the Army has had to increase the amount of armor on the vehicle, to improve its survivability, it has surpassed the original weight limit.

“The entire purpose of these light brigades is to deploy in 96 hours to any trouble spot and follow-on with a brigade in four days,” says Shoultz. “The only way to do that … is to utilize the Air Force’s 600 C-130s. If the Strykers will not fly 1,000 miles on a C-130, they are of no use to us.”

While he’s right on target about the fact that the Stryker doesn’t even begin to meet the original airlift deployability goals, I question the the statement that “they are of no use to us” if they cannot be flown 1,000 miles on a C-130. They certainly don’t meet expectations, but “no use”? They seem to be of some use in Iraq today, and that’s before we’ve really figured them out.

Now this is a shocker:

Besides worrying about its added weight, maneuverability and transportability, critics suggest cost is becoming another concern.

A host of factors – inflation, unexpected production costs, and others – often occur with items bought by the government, especially by the Department of Defense. But costs for the Stryker vehicles have risen about 50 percent since the vehicles were first budgeted by the Defense Department.

According to published reports, the Army first budgeted $4 billion to buy 2,131 Strykers, enough to outfit six new brigades. In rough terms, that translates into about $2 million a vehicle. Now, however, the Defense Department’s latest figures show Strykers costing more than $3.3 million each.

“The cost is getting way up there,” [senior defense investigator for the Project on Government Oversight Eric ]Miller told NewsMax. “The acquisition cost is [getting] really high.”

Well, a military contract with cost overruns? Although I’m certainly not in favor of overspending on anything, even $400 toilet seats, and I strongly believe that we need to work hard on keeping the military budget down, it seems a little funny to hear the most outspoken Stryker critics complain about the costs. A few months ago they were telling us how the vehicles wouldn’t work, how the troops would get pulverized just riding in them, how the vehicles would not be able to leave the roads, and how IEDs and RPGs would make mincemeat out of any Strykers that somehow managed to make it to the front.

There have been some troubles, to be sure. A couple of Strykers tumbled into some canals in the first days of the deployment, and some soldiers were drowned. Another Stryker burned to a crisp after hitting an IED, but not before the crew was able to get out.

But several RPG hits have been shrugged off, and several other IED strikes caused minor or no damage, and all of the Strykers were able to continue driving. One had it’s front left tire blown completely off and it kept on rolling. Although tracks like on the M113 are generally tougher than wheels, they are prone to single-point failure. An explosion strong enough to completely rip a tire off of a Stryker is probably strong enough to damage a track badly enough that the vehicle is immobilized.

The Stryker seems to have a niche. It certainly isn’t perfect, and there will be times that the M113s that Shoultz and most of the other anti-Stryker folks seem so keen on would perform far better. Rather than Strykers or M113s, or stepping up to Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M1 tanks, we probably need armored Humvees in Haiti. But the 2nd ACR, currently in Iraq with armored Humvees, is going to convert to the Stryker when they get back stateside.

But two months in a combat zone have shown that many of the fears that the anti-Stryker were overblown if not unfounded. The fact that Shoultz and so many other anti-Stryker types are still railing on kind of makes me wonder what their real motivation is, to be honest.