Incorporating lessons

Army looks to give Stryker a facelift

Although short on details, this Stars & Stripes article notes that the Army is working to make improvements to the Stryker LAV based upon the experience gained in Iraq over the past year.

Soldiers have suggested small improvements that have already been made, such as new seat belts and interior hand-holds.

But there are larger issues still at stake, such as shaving the vehicle’s weight, its potential to rollover and trap soldiers, and whether the current “cage” armor is effective, critics say.

Also, as noted on MO recently, lessons in tactics have already been worked into the training of the 172nd Brigade in Alaska, which will deploy to Iraq next August.

Between improved training that more accurately reflects the real operating environment and the small, easy fixes and improvements, the 172nd should have a leg up by the time it arrives in the Sandbox.

Commanders in Iraq also realized that the original seat belts were not long enough to accommodate a soldier wearing the new individual body armor and other bulky items on his person.

With the seat belts uncomfortably tight, soldiers simply were not strapping in while the vehicle was moving, commanders said, increasing the danger during collisions, explosions or rollovers.

With new seat belts, the problem has been solved, Fuller said.

As far as larger issues like vehicle weight and the like, however, fixes may be much harder to implement, if they’re even possible.

The biggest valid criticism of the Stryker has long been the weight of the vehicle. The Stryker simply is too heavy to meet the C-130 deployment specification spelled out in the original requirements. Although this doesn’t really affect the current use of the vehicle and more often than not won’t be an issue since they will be deployed via sealift, if the time comes that we need them deployed immediately we might not be able to. This is a long-term problem and needs to be addressed, either with a vastly improved version of the vehicle or with a new vehicle.

As for the “cage” slat armor, despite the added weight, it has been an unqualified success.

Lt. Col. Gordie Flowers, commander of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, said during his year in Iraq, more than 50 percent of his Strykers were hit with rocket propelled grenades and IEDs, “the No. 1 and No. 2 weapons used against us,” with no resulting fatalities.

I’m not sure that this is correct, as Michael Burbank was killed while standing in a hatch when his vehicle was hit by a bomb-loaded pick-up truck kamikaze. I guess it depends upon how you define “IED”. As for RPG attacks, the Stryker has taken dozens (hundreds? thousands?) and shrugged them off except for one in March and another during the August 4th battle in Mosul. In both cases the vehicle was lost but the crew survived.

I think the Stryker program is coming along rather nicely.

Also: I received a comment about the Stryker that was flipped by an IED in October claiming that it wasn’t flipped and that a soldier died in the attack. I’m looking into this, though it’s taking longer to sift through all the internet stuff out there than I really have time for. If anyone has any good info that would help straighten this out THAT’S OKAY TO RELEASE, pass it on.