The House Appropriations Committee has approved money to fund an additional Stryker Brigade to be based in Europe. The medium-weight unit will be closer to probable hot spots and might be the main American ground force on the continent if plans to pull two Army divisions back to the US go through.
The Pentagon has been considering reassigning to Germany one of the six Stryker units now based in the United States or on the drawing boards. Two of those units are based at Fort Lewis [Washington], and the others will be stationed in Alaska, Hawaii, Pennsylvania and Louisiana.
The Army has indicated it wanted one of the brigades in Europe so it would be closer to the Middle East and the Balkans. The brigades are a medium-weight, highly mobile force that use the eight-wheeled Stryker armored vehicle.
The new, seventh Stryker brigade would be based in Europe, meaning the existing six units would remain in the United States, said U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair), a senior member of the appropriations committee.
On the surface, the Strykers look to be a good choice for stationing in Europe. Designed to be quicker-deploying than heavy units, this will allow them to arrive even more quickly to the front. I’ve got to think that deployment to Africa or the Middle East would be pretty fast.
But do we really know how well the Stryker has performed so far in Iraq? The results have looked good so far, to be sure. But they haven’t really been in the line of fire very often. I personally don’t know that we should be planning on expanding the original plan for six brigades only a few months after the initial deployment of the first and before four of them are even activated.
Not specified is whether this would be a new unit or a refit of an existing brigade. Also, this is just the first step in approval for the plan. There is a long way to go before the budget is approved.