2nd ACR preparing to become the fourth Stryker Brigade

New Stryker Brigade

The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment is trading in its Humvees for Strykers. The switch is a little misleading, though, as only about 300 of the 2nd ACR’s soldiers are actually making the transition. Most of the regiment is will be used to create an entirely new brigade as the Army reforms.

The 2nd ACR is moving from Fort Polk, LA (where the third Stryker brigade, the 172nd Infantry Regiment is headed for final training and certification before deployment to Iraq this fall) to Ft. Lewis, home of the first two Stryker brigades. The majority of the ranks will be filled with new recruits.

There are six Stryker brigades planned for the US, one of them a National Guard unit. A seventh, if created, will be stationed in Germany.

Murdoc still thinks that Humvee-mounted cavalry might come in handy, though, and wonders if another unit should have converted to the Stryker instead of the 2nd ACR. I wrote in August:

And I still am not sure that the switch by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from armored Humvees to Strykers is the best thing we could be doing. The 2nd ACR is sort of a “medium-light” unit that can actually deploy quickly via air if needed, while the Stryker brigades are “medium-heavy” units that are more powerful but will take much longer to get there. Armored Humvee units are going to have their niche, and I hope we don’t hamstring ourselves by putting all of our medium eggs into one basket.

We’ll see.


  1. Chuck: That’s a good point. There should be a lot of armored Humvees available once the troop levels in Iraq start to come down. Assuming they’re not being used in Syria or Iran or someplace, anyway. A lot of them will probably be pretty well used up, but there will still be a ton of them and that’s a good thing. They probably won’t be organized into large armored Humvee units, though. Seems to me that that sort of thing could be handy for a Liberia or Somalia, or for a truly fast deployment to hold the turf until heavier units arrive.

  2. I’d like to see a true medium armoured car capability for the US military which can be airlifted easily and is a more serious force than HMMWVs alone can provide. I don’t think either of the medium-light or medium-heavy solutions are very close to ideal. Do you want too little soon, or enough too late? This capability would ideally include some big guns, even if they’re recoilless rifles firing HE shells from the top of a medium armoured car or light tracked vehicle. It would also include similar vehicles mounted with medium calibre autocannons, multiple machine-guns, grenade launchers, and of course, armoured boxes with gun turrets to ferry infantry around and protect them from RPGs. I think it’s possible to do all this in an air-droppable and C-130 transportable force without spending too much money. The technology all exists, it’s pretty much all been demonstrated in the past (although not always on the same vehicle), it’s just a matter of getting over the military-industrial pork. No matter how much it costs, I guarantee it will save money in the long run by increasing the speed of US military deployment, effectiveness of the fast deployed units, and saving the lives of troops as well as protecting the interests better of the US and friendly nations. Who’s going to mess with someone who can land a serious military force on your palace doorstep in a couple of days? That’s what I would consider real transformation. While Strykers may be good in the anti-insurgency garrison role I don’t think it’s a real spearhead vehicle like what I’m talking about. In fact, I don’t think any single vehicle would do it. It would really require a mix of vehicles. One-size-fits-all doesn’t usually work very well.

  3. Oh, having said that, I think armoured HMMWVs could be useful, but I see them mainly in a relatively conventional role – as scout or ambush vehicles, as well as rearguard duties. I suppose you could use them for garrison too as long as the area isn’t TOO hostile.

  4. Nicholas: I agree completely. I was trying to work with what we have as opposed to claiming we need new vehicles (which we almost certainly do). Humvee cav could be quite useful in some places, I think, and for peacekeeping in Haiti-like environments with Humvees makes a lot more sense than with Strykers. Or tanks. As for the airborne types, I’d think something could be done for them as well, though I don’t know that the Humvee would be ideal. In fact, the Humvee isn’t really ‘ideal’ for much of anything except as a general utility vehicle. Oh – that’s what it is. It’s been modified into all sorts of good stuff, but like you said, one-size-fits-all doesn’t always work very well. Or at all, in some cases. Still, I think the Humvee stuff has worked out pretty well. It’s just overmatched for what we’ve been up against in Iraq. Replace most of the Humvees in Iraq with Strykers or 6-wheeled ‘LAV-lite’ armored cars and the past two years looks very different, I think.

  5. Yeah, they’re not as sexy as a big cannon or minigun but they let you get a lot of single-shot firepower onto a small chassis. I’m not aware of any stabilised or remotely operated recoilless rifles. I don’t see why you couldn’t mount one on something like CROWS. Perfect for the situation where someone is shooting at you out of a brick house or something and you want to knock a wall down, or when you have a bunch of people shooting at you from a ditch and you basically want direct-fire artillery. Like I said they’re not as sexy as cannons but sure are a lot easier to mount on a light vehicle and can be made pretty much as powerful as you like. At some point, the bigger you make them, the more they morph into a mortar. Kind of like that monstrosity the Germans mounted on the Storm-Tiger, or the one the British put onto the Churchill engineering vehicles. I suppose the closest thing I’ve seen in use are TOWs. They’re bigger (the rounds), more expensive and less versatile but they pack quite a bit of a punch into a small, recoilless package. They’re also much more useful against tanks but tanks are not currently the problem.

  6. The Humvee is a great transport vehicle. That is all it ever will be. The idea of using them as front line weapon platforms in future conflicts is ridiculous. It just is not possible to mount enough armor on that chassis to stop heavy machine guns rounds (.50 Cal and up) much less any kind of anti-armor rocket or cannon. Against any kind of real firepower – even the machine guns on the rusty Syrian T-55 we made fun of the other day, the Humvee is just a death trap. We use it as a convoy escort in Iraq because we have to, not because it’s a great tool. I drove an unarmored Humvee in the first Gulf War. We took off the plastic doors and kept our seat belts unfastened so we could jump out quickly if necessary. If we had been ambushed, I would follow the convoy commander’s lead and either run like hell or dismount with my passengers and fight as Infantry. The armored Humvees in our column were there to provide cover and suppressing fire with their mounted guns while we ran or dismounted. We never fooled ourselves into thinking we were some kind of light tank unit. The Humvee is just a way to move troops and equipment around – we would fight and win as Infantry. If you want to fight from a wheeled vehicle, it has to be at least as heavy as a LAV. The Army should reconsider buying the much cheaper LAV (versus the Stryker) for convoy escort and rear security missions. They should also make a decision on the M-8 light tank and start the acquisition process.

  7. Bram, what you said makes sense. I still think armoured HMMWVs might make sense as recon vehicles. Most recon vehicles can’t stand up to take much damage. The tactic is to spot the enemy before they spot you and run away I think. The other use I can think of is similar to recon; drive out in front of the heavies and scout around; if you spot some enemy and are in a good spot for an ambush, stop and set up some kind of weapon (recoilless rifle, TOW, etc.), pick off one vehicle (maybe a command tank) and then drive away really fast behind a hill and get the hell out of there. Not really sure if that’s a worthwhile tactic but I think it could work OK if done carefully. The hit and run could be followed up by a standard attack with the heavies that were behind you, taking advantage of the confusion generated by the surprise attack. I think what you said about the LAV and M8 is sensible too. At least then the army would have the capability to get a reasonably large and effective ground force anywhere in the world at short notice. They’re no M1s or M2s but coordinated well with air support and paratroopers they could be pretty effective I think.

  8. Hah! ‘Some of the proposed revisions called for an aluminium amphibious hull and two 105mm recoilless rifles (designated as T237 guns) fitted with a cylinder similar to a revolver pistol. This change would have allowed multiple firings of the two guns without the need for a crew member to reload the guns from outside the vehicle.’ The same idea I had. Great minds think alike. And so does mine :) I think that would make having an RR mounted on an armoured car pretty practical. It might also allow an RR to be mounted in a turret, venting gas to the rear of the turret, while giving you multiple shots before you have to reload, and the capability to reload from inside the turret. In fact, it might even be possible to make a relatively compact auto-loader using a configuration like that, and have nobody in the turret, just the gun, rounds and sensors.

  9. Part of the reason we phased out M67 90mm recoilless rifles out of our inventory and replaced them with M47 Dragons way back in the day is because of the backblast. Danger close on backblast is a cone of death 120 degrees wide and upto 90 feet or more behind the weapon. Under no circumstances would I ever want to be a dismount walking anywhere near one, especially in street-to-street action. The slow rate of fire from having to manually breech-load it consigns it to relic status. Under no circumstances will it ever approach the MK19 in sheer powers of destruction, because a 90mm recoilless rifle is simply not going to be able to saturate an area with munitions fast enough. Quad .50s I understand, when non-compliant forces come at you from every conceivable direction and attempt to swarm you with small arms, RPGs, and mortars. I do not see a place for recoilless rifles, 90mm or any other kind, in our inventory anymore. Discussing how to engage enemy armor with light-wheeled platforms is a nice theoretical exercise, but if the 11B’s/19K’s have to engage T-series armor, something is wrong. That means close air support did not do its job. That means the M1A1s and A2s did not do their job. That means the 155s did not do their job. For us to engage enemy forces on anything resembling parity means there has been failure on multiple levels before it gets down to a slugfest. No weapon platform should be considered to work independently on its own to solve a critical problem of any sort whatsoever. Great minds do work in the defense industry; I have friends in Raytheon and other defense contractors, and I am in awe of the kind of dedicated, patriotic minds that commit themselves to ensuring American troops have the best equipment for the missions they are called upon to execute. It is lesser minds in the procurement process who stick us with the pork, the useless prototypes, the products of compromise and cost-cutting. It would appear the lower the product goes on the tech scale (MOLLE systems, anemic 5.56x45mm platforms) the worse the problem manifests itself. Wire-guided TOWs have reached their shelf life. They have severe limitations in MOUT employment (overpenetration, overdestruction, obstacles to the wire, inability to restock adequate numbers for a mission) that simply render them ineffective for what can be considered the most common environment we will fight in. We may fight in jungle, mountains, desert, but to win a war we will inevitably have to engage in cities – and the problems are the same in every MOUT scenario. Overpenetration, the negation of advantages in range and accuracy, ‘swarm’ tactics, the need to saturate an area rapidly with munitions when required and to be able to destroy hardened targets with minimal collateral damage. Between the .50s and the MK19s, we can destroy entire city blocks of those non-reinforced cinderblock houses in the Third World no problem, without having to worry about unintentionally blowing up that row of houses ten blocks away. We need a better .50 platform, and we need to up the MK19s. Both need better optics, since a good percentage of our engagements occur at dusk or at night. Both need better feed mechanisms, cooling systems, and a number of other incremental improvements to enable them to sustain fire that much longer. To be blunt, if you’re talking about sheer dominance of enemy armor and seriously hardened targets, nothing in a MOUT scenario or otherwise supplants the role of the MBT. A pair of Abrams is worth far, far more than any other vehicle out there in the inventory today. It can kill anything out there on wheels and tracks upto just under four clicks away no problem. With dozer blades it can clear burning cars, garbage, rubble, and other obstacles with impunity. The question really is, do you want to airlift a lot of an inferior product out there quickly to do a half-assed job, or do you want to airlift a much, much superior product out there that can hold its own against anything the enemy can throw at it? Why send something that flat out sucks quickly into theater that begs for defeat and gives the enemy a morale booster, when we can send a virtually invincible mechanized column and ensure victory? Why dilute the force to a fallacious ‘medium weight’ standard and take away the strength of our heavy brigades and the mobility of our lighter units? With preposition equipment, sealift and airlift become far less of a problem than in 1991. We won’t be fielding forces that large anytime soon anyhow unless the President and Congress somehow agree to increase our numbers substantially. We have proven platforms that work. We know what tactics work. We know what doctrine works. We know what kind of technologies we need to mature to make all this seamless. We know what kind of damage the ‘kindler, gentler’ approach to training and recruitment has done in sheer damage to the fighting force. We know all this and yet we think that tweaking one weapon system or buying something that looks nice will create a drastic shift towards the better. We proved in Afghanistan and Iraq that we have the technologies and the institutional experience to produce force multipliers to the umpteenth power through information technologies and the superior application of combat power to any situation that manifests itself. Our Brigades fought like Divisions, our Battalions fought like Brigades. We can do more with less, so long as we keep in sight the need to maintain the purity of heavy as opposed to light forces. Compromise solutions are what is killing us today. We use 9mm because we wanted to give women a controllable round and compatibility with our NATO allies, so we ended up with a mediocre product. Any time we end up with something with ‘Joint’ or ‘Future’ in the name, we have ended up with a mediocre system that is way out there. Where’s the FCS? Where’s the Joint Strike Fighter? Where’s the XM29? We need solutions today, and we have the foundation for those solutions in our inventory and in the accumulated experience of generation of our fighting men. We should be playing to our specialties towards success, instead of using nostalgia as a basis for future development. We’re not bringing back Garands, Hueys, or anything else that worked in the past because that sort of regression is just as bad as fielding something unproven. Just because horse-drawn carriages work does not mean you need to bring them back. We need incremental, steady improvement on the organizations and platforms we use now, not something ‘revolutionary’ that will set us back in the face of the enemy. Maybe this is lost on those in DoD who dream of lasers weapons and starships, but if we regress far enough, we’ll lose enough fighting men and need to send the desk-huggers into the face of the enemy too. Then they can start living- and dying – with the consequences of their theorizing, cost-cutting, and waste.

  10. Nicholas – Thanks for agreeing with me – I’m married so I does not happen often. The ‘armored’ Humvee is okay for scouting. The Scout platoon in my Armor Battalion uses them. If they value their lives in a hostile environment, however, they probably dismount and peek around corners and hilltops before driving through. Otherwise, finding the enemy may consist of driving around and waiting for the lead vehicle to explode. Unlike Bulldog, I believe there is a place for medium weight forces – while recognizing it is not a substitute for heavy forces. In the war 2 years ago, we were unable to rapidly deploy any mech forces in northern Iraq until we seized airfields. Even then, we had to use Bradleys because we no longer have a light tank. This was the ideal mission for the 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armor – the 82nd Airborne’s armored battalion. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/3-73ar.htm There has been talk of re-activating the battalion with Stryer or LAV gun variants or the M-8. Either way, I believe they should bring back airborne armor. Light / medium armor can work as long as it really is armor – not a SUV with bolted on scrap metal. Just look at the exploits of the Marine LAV units over the past 25 years.

  11. The Delta Company in my BN does not dismount in the face of the enemy from their guntrucks. With only three crew (driver, topside gunner, section leader on the ASIPS) under normal conditions and often forced to fight with just two. It makes absolutely no sense for them to abandon mobility and their primary weapon systems to ‘peek around the corner’ – if there is a need for dismounts, a line platoon from A/B/C CO will fill it. I was with one of the forces that seized an airfield in Northern Iraq; we seized Qayarrah West Airfield, an Iraqi Air Force base just south of Mosul. Conditions were such that given ample CAS and a few guntrucks, we could establish dominance with ease over the countryside so long as we were not committed to a serious MOUT scenario on our own. With masses of indigenous troops (read: Peshmerga) and CAS, we could do it. And Group did it. My problem is it pushes the wheeled, undergunned, underarmored platforms like the Stryker that have limited cross-country mobility and serious deficiencies in firepower. The Stryker BN that took over our sector ran into several brick walls and ended up undoing a lot of the pacification work we did in our sector. A lot of that has to do with sending a BN to replace a BDE and much of the rest had to do with the Stryker platform itself. Too big and heavy to maneuver through many of the villes and over the farms, too loud to efficiently do cordon and searches in quiet, and just not fuel-efficient or nimble enough to do patrols like the guntrucks. Where’s the 105mm variant of the Stryker? Why do we have something that is too heavy for a C-130 to lift with combat load of ammo? And if these Strykers were so high-speed, why didn’t we see them until around December 2003, well after the heaviest fighting was over? Bram makes the point that mechanized forces could not be deployed in Northern Iraq until airfields were seized. That’s what Rangers are for. That’s what Airborne units are for. That’s what Air Assault units are for. There are specific missions that specific units have developed expertise and MTOEs around for decades. The 82nd functions just fine without the Armor BN it took off its books years ago. We take a single platform and attempted to make it fit too many mission profiles, when we should be developing refining existing platforms for specific mission profiles. Instead, we are fielding an ‘interim’ (read: Stopgap) vehicle that will be in our inventory for likely over a decade while we hammer out the immature technologies and untested assumptions behind the entire FCS concept. Trying to make the Stryker do the job of heavier forces and the HMMVV platform the job of medium-weight/CAV/RSTA works against common sense. Bringing in the M8 or some other gun platform to augment the power of Airborne/Air Assault forces to execute their traditional missions makes perfect sense and I am all for it, but if we needed to field something like that for the lightfighters, why weren’t we given LAVs which are tested and cheaper to make? And if the LAV was such a good platform, why did we invest a MOWAG-inspired monstrosity like the Stryker? The Stryker is really a victory for pork, because we could have had a cheaper, better solution long ago and actually committed it to battle from the outset. Medium weight is just nothing other than a definition for compromise and an inability to excel at any mission. That is not what we need today, or in the future under the FCS.

  12. Bull Dog…. the Stryker is more than quiet enough to conduct effective cordon and searches. In Addition, the area surrounding Al Quyarruh is vast open country side, with small villages. Very little resistance equals ease of dominance. The leaders and troops affect the pacification process, not the vehicle. I agree it was a bad idea to replace a BDE with a BN…. you need dismounted boots on the ground. Community Policing you might say. You can’t hide in an Up-armor or Stryker and expect to get the job done. Some Strykers get it, some don’t.

  13. Random Bulldog: You guys (I assume mostly the 173d Airborne Brigade along with SF units) did one hell of a job 2 years ago in Northern Iraq. I thought the accomplishments up there were badly under reported by the media (no imbedded airborne reports I assume). Really made this old Marine and new NG soldier proud to hear about Paratroopers jumping in behind enemy lines and kicking ass. I love Rangers and Paratroopers – I also recognize that sometimes a tank or two can be a big help. Somalia may have turned out a lot differently if Les Fucking Aspin has sent the tanks they had requested. According to the Global Security link, as the Sheridan was being phased out, 3/73 did use borrowed Marine LAVs for a while and really liked them. One of the LAV Assault Gun variants (90mm or 105mm) would probably be perfect for Airborne Armor (seizing key locations like airfields, tearing up enemy supply lines and units from the rear, and generally raising hell). It appears that politics with the Stryker killed that idea and probably the M-8 as well. Too bad.

  14. serving with 1/25, this is serving with 1/101; I appreciate the counterpoint, but still think from personal experience the Stryker is too big, too noisy. While it isn’t the gas turbine of an Abrams going off, someone on foot can tell when a bunch of Strykers are in a given area, especially at night in the towns. You already know from personal experience how unlikely it is to find major vehicle traffic (i.e. big trucks) off the MSRs in the villes during the hours of, say, 2400-0400. Maybe, just maybe we can squeeze past with a Delta section since there’s always the occasional orange-white cab here and there, but bringing in a cordon-and-search at night? There’s no stealth to Stryker movement compared to us. We’ve squeezed in with a a line company and a Delta section and sealed off a block no problem in the middle of the night without so much as disturbing a chai party. There is a lot of open countryside in the Q-West area, but most of the action is around Hamman-al-Alil and Mishraq, which are definitely NOT miniscule villes. The longest foot patrol I did through Hamman-al-Alil lasted approximately six hours, and I still hadn’t figured out the depth of the town. And having been in more than one situation where even our guntrucks had trouble negotiating some of the streets – and you know already how bad some of the streets are – I find it extremely difficult to believe a Stryker could do a much better job than a Humvee in a good number of cases. Call it anti-mech prejudice if you want, but I really do think dismounts and guntrucks work reliably for a vast majority of cases, whereas terrain factors mitigate the usefulness of the Stryker in built-up Third World areas. I recall hearing from a number of friends how Strykers would occasionally wreak havoc on those courtyard walls making a turn (those cages …) and granted, for very, very small villes (i.e. any one of those farmsteads I saw from Mosul to Balad) they’d be good. But in cul-de-sacs, alleyways, and other tight corners where the dismounts often end up, we need something that can come as close as possible behind us. And that’s a Humvee, not a Stryker. Not the best platform in the universe, but I’d rather have that behind me than a gator or nothing at all. Bram: I have extremely high regard for Marines. Any interservice contempt I may have had vanished after Al Hillah, when I had a chance to finally meet Devil Dogs in their natural environment. Some of America’s finest warriors, no doubt. You are dead on the money about a 90mm or 105mm LAV variant, but there’s none for the Stryker yet, and there won’t be for a long time. We could have bought this off the shelf – AND it has a 105mm: http://www.systems.textron.com/index.html?topframe/top.html&leftframe/productsmenu.html&mainframe/products/cadgage/lav.html But we didn’t – why? Wasn’t being C-130 transportable with combat load of fuel and ammo supposed to be a BIG THING in order to make the Army more deployable? So why do we have a monstrosity pushing almost half the weight of an Abrams fully loaded and none of the survivability or firepower? http://www.g2mil.com/LAV-III.htm I just think a lot of good units (2nd ID, 25th ID, 2nd ACR, etc) are getting screwed with an inferior product while being told to wait for the FCS, which may or may not be just another Sergeant York fiasco anyhow. If the Stryker is such a great system, why didn’t it lead the way in Afghanistan and Iraq? Where was the Stryker when we took Ar-Ramadi or Fallujah? Those are some more of my questions. We will no doubt continue to win all the engagements we face now (i.e. Salman Pak) it’s just that there’s no need for the world’s most technologically advanced nation that prides itself on ingenuity and creative thinking to stumble so much and so USELESSLY on the path to success. By the way serving with 1/25 and Bram, thank you for your service to the nation.

  15. Thanks Bulldog, After 911, I had to get back in the service somewhere somehow. There was not much for Marine Reserves units in the area I now live, so I joined up with an Army National Guard Armor Battalion 2 years ago. I’ve learned a lot about the Army since then – some bad most good. Most of the inter-service rivalry is B.S., although the Air Force really does suck (just kidding). I believe that Shinseki and Congress wasted a massive pile of my tax money developing the Stryker. Between the Bradley, M113, and LAV variants, we did not rally need a new APC. Any of those 3 could have been upgraded to fill new roles. Oh well. Despite serving with the Armor (I am now a licensed M113 driver amoung my other talents), I also still believe that if you want things done right you do it on foot. Armor is great in open country and for shock value but Infantry is still the queen of the battlefield. Ironicly, I served with 1/25 – 1st Battalion 25th Marines – in Gulf I. Stay low guys.