Stryker article in Stars & Stripes

Despite its flaws, troops prefer Stryker

A reader tips me off to this article. He noted that it was nothing major, but that “soldiers dig ’em, chicks think they’re
cool”.

At least some of the Strykers are getting the piles of sandbags on top replaced by steel plate:

Mechanics of 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, or “Deuce-Four,” for example, are wrapping the top of the Stryker with 3/8-inch steel plating to provide additional protection to the crews who stand in the open hatches.

Soldiers had used stacked sandbags, usually three bags high and sometimes two rows deep, as a buffer. But the added weight at times caused the wheel hubs to break, said Staff Sgt. Jason Stauff, the shop foreman and senior mechanic.

Since they’ve replaced the heavier sandbags with steel, the number of broken hubs has decreased to nearly nonexistent, said Sgt. 1st Class Brent Stafford, motor sergeant for the Combat Repair Team.

Spc. Krist Zeynalyan sums up the Stryker very neatly, I think, when he says

“There are pros and cons to everything, but the pros far outweigh the cons.”

One thing MO takes exception to, though, is this:

Soldiers in Iraq complain mostly about heat in the vehicle and the inability of the main weapon, either a grenade launcher or a heavy machine gun, to hit targets when moving. The Army hopes to correct the weapons problem beginning next summer. [emphasis mine]

The inability of the weapon to hit targets while moving isn’t a problem. It was intentional because they opted to go with an unstabilized weapons mount. They’re going to upgrade this, and rightly so. But it’s not a fix to a “problem”. They decided to incorporate the inability to hit targets while moving into the design.

As for the heat, which has been discussed quite a bit, I’ve got to think that heat is going to pretty much be a problem with any design in Iraq.

Except for the air transportability issue (which is a biggie, make no doubt), the Stryker generally seems to meeting or exceeding expectations. As improvements are made, many in response to the CALL report from last year, it will be even better.

No wonder chicks think they’re cool.

Comments

  1. The Stryker is a fine vehicle. It is turning out to be rock solid anti-insurgency vehicle. It only real flaw is that it cannot due what it was intended to do. To be a mobile interdiction force. It is not mobile (to heavy) and is under armed for its role. An unstabilized or stabilitzed for that matter, 50 cal or 40mm grenade launcher will not cut it. The 105mm gun carrier is a flop. Not enough ammo to make a difference, and the physics of recoil is overwhelming the design. The army’s own war games, show that a Stryker force is insufficent in the face of determined opposition equiped with light armor.

  2. If you look at the SBCT doctrine, the Stryker vehicle isn’t expected to be able to provide fires in all cases. Instead, it provides ‘complementary’ fires to the platoon with its M2 or MK19 or TOW BB (105mm once the MGS is fielded) when it can be maneuvered into a supporting position. However, it has proven such a survivable vehicle that it has been able to do much more than its ‘complementary’ fires role. Finally, it was never designed to take on a heavy armored force head to head, so I’m not sure why it is considered ‘undergunned.’ As far as mobility, I think it has proven itself very capable in Iraq. Units have conducted large scale operational movements and gone straight into a fight on numerous occasions.

  3. I understand that the Stryker is not intended to take on heavy armored vehicles. That said, per SCBT doctrine ‘The interim force will not be an early-entry force. Instead, the IBCT’s will fill the gap between early-entry forces and heavier follow-on forces; the brigades will be lethal, agile, and mobile enough to dominate combat during that interval.’ The undergunned statement comes from the Army’s own analysis on its firepower needs. The .50 cal and grenade launcher are inaquate. These weapons are incapable of penitrating the armor of comparable vehicles. So basically what you have is 20 ton target that is incapable of defending itself vs comparable light armor let alone heavier units. An obsolete T-55 rolling around the bend is instant death. It boggles the imagination to state that the firepower of the brigade is centered on its dismounts and that its armored vehicles are ‘complementary’. That is a prescription for getting a lot of people killed. If that is case, why even have a 20 ton carrier. It would be cheaper and actually inprove the Brigades tactical/strategic mobility & firepower and ease its logistics train.

  4. There’s a reason why they are called ‘carriers’ and not ‘fighting vehicles.’ It is an infantry centric organization that uses it’s infantry to finish the job. To counter medium and heavy armor, the BDE can use Javelins, TOWs, 105mm assault gun (when fielded), 120mm mortars, 155mm artillery, FASCAM (Volcano or ADAMS/RAAMS), and CAS. It can use UAVs from the company to the brigade level to help identify targets as well as tap into national assets for intel. GPS guided 155mm munitions are now being fielded and precision guided 120mm mortar rounds are just around the corner from being fielded, both of which will greatly enhance the effectiveness of the BDE’s numerous indirect fire assets. The development and fielding of the HTAM to replace the current TOWIIB as the standard ATGM will provide a huge increase in effectiveness of the AT Company a few years in the future. If it is filling the role of the follow-on force after a forced-entry, the weight of an AEF will be fully behind the Stryker force to help service targets that are identified. If your threat is an armored force, then you use the formations, movement techniques, and tactics appropriate for that threat environment. Also, can you point me to the Army analysis that states that the Strykers are undergunned? I have seen individual comments and suggestions, but nothing official that concludes that the Stryker’s armaments should be upgraded to 20/25mm cannons.

  5. I am growing confused as to why the Stryker should be constrained by the capabilities of a fifty year old air craft. To me, it would be a win win situation to get a plane that could carry the ideal Stryker and not make huge the compromises that were made. The extra capability could be used to haul more than just Strykers too… Or is this line of thought too obvious for Congress and the DoD?

  6. Curtis, I agree with you whole heartedly that a C130 like aircraft (STOL capability on unimproved strips) should be designed around what it will carry. However, don’t forget that one of the biggest goals in creating the IBCT was a smaller logistics tail that would allow the majority of soldiers in an infantry brigade to be infantrymen, something you don’t find in a mechanized brigade. Reducing this logistics tail makes the unit more deployable and sustainable, whether deploying via land, sea, or air.

  7. Shek One problem is that the report at issue is classified. That said, portions of the report can be found @http://www.gao.gov/htext/d04925.html That is a GAO report on the Stryker. This site provides a summary view of the report http://www.pogo.org/m/dp/dp-stryker-DOTE-2004.pdf The important point is: The stryker is deems capable and survivable in small scale contingencies. Additional information is on Logistics Risk in the Stryker Brigade Combat Team by Lieutenant Colonel Rick W. Taylor http://www.almc.army.mil/alog/issues/JanFeb04/LogisticsRiskintheStryker.htm From a Critic of the Stryker system http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/congress/2003_rpt/stryker_reality_of_war.pdf For General Information on the Stryker system http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/iav-refs.htm

  8. Curtis, We have a plane that can haul a heavier Stryker, its call the C-17. Great plane, cost 200 to 250 million per plane depending on how you calc it. C-130 great plane, more versions that you can shake a stick at, cost 30 million + (depends on modification) The air force is not going to send a C-17 into a contested combat zone. So you are stuck with the C-130. In theory you could stretch a C-130 and upgrade the engine – cost around a billion or so to design. But since congress is forcing the air force to buy C-130J’s (which don’t work, have not worked, and most likely may never work) the air force is gun shy about sinking more money into a C-130 upgrade. There are lots of ideas out there. One of the more interesting, was to use zeplins. The germans were making one to haul a 100 tons at a shot. There were plans for some super blimps that could haul an entire brigade.

  9. BTW what girls think weaponary is cool? I seem to be living in a different world… (Not that I dont think it is cool, but then I’m not a chick 😛 )

  10. Bulldog and James, Thanks for the links; however, I still haven’t seen info where the Army, not critics, say that the Stryker is undergunned for its role.

  11. Shek, you asking for the Army to provide actual criticism of its golden cow is a non sequiter. I have worked besides Strykers from 2nd ID for over a month and I have had friends endure the misfortune of being PCS’d to Stryker units. The answer I have unanimously heard is ‘They have problems’ – serious ones. How about these questions? (1) If the current Stryker is the IFV version of it, what’s the rationale in bringing down main armament from 25mm to .50? (2) Where is the Mobile Gun System variant and why is it 3000lbs overweight to begin with? (3) If the platform is so survivable, why the add-on birdcage armor and the problems with rollovers and tires blasting out? To look for your information, I went to the CALL website but it is down as of 1500 CST. And I am using a us.army.mil computer, but discussions with some people have pointed me towards the Levin report, which I intend to find later. I would rather be in the Stryker than in a Humvee, but I’d rather be in a Bradley than a Stryker. The former mechanized people in our ranks say the same. In Japanese, we have an expression: ‘Some people beat on a stone bridge before crossing on it.’ If you require proof in terms of an OFFICIAL Army report (a career-destroyer, no less) on how the Stryker program has had serious hiccups and how the current armament is insufficient, then let me know by what stretch of reason you find the M2s and MK19s on the Strykers today you find sufficient for anything other than police actions. IFVs should have the capability to engage other light-skinned vehicles in conjunction with MBTs; that was the rationale for replacing M113s with Bradleys. Where are the TOWs on the Strykers? Where is the anti-tank capability? And if Strykers were such a hot deal, why weren’t they used during March-May 2003 in the real invasion of Iraq, and in the subsequent fights for Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, Najaf? You’re talking about how the Stryker Brigades have Javelins, TOWs, 105s, 120s, and 155s on call? So where are the Strykers with the 105s? Where are the Strykers with the TOWs? 19Ks with HMMVVs can pack Javelins and engage targets faster than a Stryker unit by virtue of speed and mobility. And 120 and 155s? Please. You were there when it took Corps level release for us to use indirect in late 2003 perhaps, rendering our 60s and 81s immaterial? There are reasons why the Stryker is an ‘interim’ vehicle, and in all seriousness, I don’t think a glorified thin-skinned taxi should be lauded for the faults it doesn’t have while the faults it has remain unspoken for. When I see Strykers as a mature system at the forefront of offensive operations, then I’m on the boat. Let’s ask the guys at 3rd ID if they want to give up their legacy Abrams and Bradleys for all Strykers, and how confident they would feel about leading the spearhead once again into, say Iran or Syria. If our warfighting doctrine depends on getting the USAF to baby us and take out ALL the heavy weapons on the other side, maybe all of us infantry should just become MPs. After all, we’re shrinking MTOEs and we’re gutting firepower down to the company level these days, so let’s put our faith in something that has failed to meet budgetary and performance expectations marvelously. Bring the FCS on so we can get rid of this garbage at the earliest.

  12. RD: While a bit of a fan of the Stryker, I do try to maintain some semblance of objectivity. In response to your questions above: 1) The Stryker was never meant to replace the Bradley. I guess that’s what you mean by going from 25mm to .50 cal. 2) Very good question, and one I’ve asked many times on this site. I’m skeptical that it will work. 3) RPGs are why the slat armor has been added. The basic design wasn’t required to be RPG proof. TOW-equipped ATGM Strykers are in Iraq right now. They provide the main anti-tank capability of the brigade. Strykers weren’t used in the initial invasion of Iraq because no Stryker units were activated at the time. (Marine LAVs were used, and the Marines were generally happy with them, according to after action reports.) Strykers were part of the cordoning force at Fallujah last fall until called away when Mosul got hotter. The reason they didn’t assault INTO cities is that tanks and IFVs were available. We all know what happens when light-skinned vehicles assault cities. And no, 3rd ID guys wouldn’t want to trade tanks and Bradleys for Strykers. Guys on aircraft carriers or cruisers wouldn’t want to trade in for frigates, either. That doesn’t mean that frigates are garbage. To say you won’t be on the boat until Strykers lead offensive operations doesn’t really make a lot of sense. That’s not their primary mission except in dire circumstances. Should every unit in the army get tanks and Bradleys? Trade in every single vehicle for a tank or a Bradley? Of course not. The Stryker certainly isn’t perfect. But it has a role and some useful features. In the right environment, it’s an asset. Just like everything else.

  13. Murdoc: If the Stryker was never meant to replace the Bradley, why are units like 2nd ACR kicking theirs to the curb in their Transformation? If the Stryker was never meant to be effective against the most common antiarmor weapon out there, what’s the point of fielding it? What’s the point of having TOW-equipped Strykers when one with a 25mm gun can punch through the mud huts we see out in Iraq and the Third World with greater efficiency and less collateral damage? Where’s the enemy armor threat? I know there were no Stryker units ready at kickoff in March 2003; my question was more rhetorical: Why wasn’t the program accelerated in the wake of the opening shots in OEF to meet deployment in OIF? Considering the majority of our engagements are MOUT scenarios, what’s the point of having a light-skinned vehicle you yourself wouldn’t use in an urban assault being in place? What’s an IFV that can’t follow its dismounts because it has anemic armament and is too thin-skinned to survive? If the Strykers aren’t capable of engaging the a reasonable spectrum of threats even in concert with aviation and artillery assets, how do you expect them to accomplish their missions when such supporting assets are unavailable? If a given platform is able to accomplish the mission better and has greater survivability, why replace it with a thin-skinned sardine can that has bits and pieces of the Land Warrior program and nothing more really to talk about? Using your non-analogous example of Aircraft Carriers and Frigates, they have different missions profiles – but we know which is worth far more; which screens and runs picket lines for the other. What would you say if you saw a carrier retired for the commissioning of a few more Arleigh Burkes? Saw all that airpower and power projection capability go to waste? Why are we retiring proven legacy forces in the Abrams and Bradleys for the Strykers then? For me to say that I won’t be on the boat until Strykers are proven in offensive ops is merely a deliberately sarcastic comment. You already know these things won’t survive in a serious MOUT scenario like an Ar Ramadi or an An Najaf thick with RPG-7s; so what are they good for? Screening actions? Interdiction of roads? Holding up soda pop stands alongside Route Tampa? Where’s the MGS and all the firepower that’s supposed to be on the table to compensate? I really want to ride into an engagement in this thing only to be dropped off ten clicks from the objective because it doesn’t have the firepower or the armor to follow me in? I might as well be riding on a deuce-and-a-half then. I know there’s a .50 or a MK19 on that. Equivalency to Stryker IFV armament? 100%. How pathetic is that? Should every unit trade in legacy armor for Strykers? I never said that or the obverse. Sure, there are useful features, and I am certain that in certain roles it is more than adequate. However, the Stryker is intended to fill far more roles than it is adequate for, in anticipation of the FCS. We’re paying for Clinton-era peacekeeping doctrine and procurement with a platform that can’t slug it out with traditional militaries like the PLA, and with our totally inadequate manpower we’re stripping away heavy armor when we need it the most to keep it alive for a slugfest in Korea or someplace else. Digitization of the battlefield is only a force multiplier to a certain extent. There’s not much point in being ‘the firstest with the mostest’ when what we can drag to the fight is a lot of a weak fighting platform. We can’t always depend on attack aviation and indirect to save our asses either. Tomorrow, DIVARTY for the 101st gets officially inactivated as part of the ‘Transformation’ … there goes part of the proven formula that won us Gulf One, OEF, and OIF. As for what does not make ‘sense’ to you? If I see a Stryker Brigade, fully equipped, with the MGS and everything else take on an entrenched enemy like in An Najaf or take out a Syrian Division? Then I’m a believer. All I see is something running around getting blasted by RPGs and IEDs/VBIEDs over and over again like a mere guntruck. Strykers haven’t bled the enemy enough to tell me they are a viable future. For those of you who believe this is the future, remember this is supposed to be an interim platform until the FCS comes on line. IF IT EVER comes online. We’re stuck with this thing for at least the next two or three decades in the meantime – something too weak to carry the fight to a determined enemy and with so many birthing pains it hasn’t met its most critical design objective. Is it air-transportable with combat load of fuel and ammo yet? What is this thing good for, why are we sinking so much money into it, and why are we buying so many of the damn things? I would rather jump out of a perfectly good airplane than entrust my life to this, thank you very much.

  14. RD: 2nd ACR is trading in armored Humvees, not Bradleys. (And I’m not really in favor of that move and have written about several times.) The Humvee isn’t effective against the most common anti-armor weapon out there. What’s the point of fielding that? You may not agree with the decision to not require an RPG-proof APC, but that’s the decision that was made. As for accelerating Strykers to meet the invasion of Iraq timeline? Why? To what point? There were plenty of units available. Why on earth, for what possible reason, would someone voluntarily choose to rush a new weapon system into an invasion when there are already plenty of existing and proven weapons ready to go? Mosul has been a pretty tough spot, for the most part, since Fallujah was taken down. The Strykers have done okay. That’s not the same as an ‘urban assault’. The Stryker was specifically designed to be a thin-skinned vehicle. Maybe you don’t think thin-skinned vehicles have a place in the Army, and that’s fair enough. But that’s not the same as saying that the Stryker is garbage. Re: carriers and frigates and the fact that they have different mission profiles compared to tanks and Strykers: that is my point exactly. I agree that there are many missions that the Stryker is not adequate for, and that there are several big problems with the program. I think the fact that it’s not really any more air-transportable than a Bradley is a biggie, and I’ve written about it. I think the problems with the MGS is a biggie, and I’ve written about it. I think the lack of something between .50 cal and 105mm (except TOW) is a biggie, and I’ve written about it. I’ve also written that, in the rush to ‘transform’, we don’t give away our capability to fight a modern mechanized enemy. I’ve written that the lack of a motion-stabilized weapons station was a decision to harm our troops. There’s obviously a lot to improve on. How were the first M1 tanks? How about the first models of the M2 Bradley? The CALL report is part of the Army’s effort to make the kinds of changes that need to be made. Unlike most Stryker fans, I think there’s a place for M113-based units. I think there’s a place for Humvee-mounted cavalry. I realize that tires will only get you so far in many places. But that’s not the same as calling the Stryker ‘garbage’. Since it can’t take out a Syrian brigade, I’m not calling for the end of the program. As for trusting your life to it, many guys do and are happy to. Thanks greatly for your well-reasoned and extensive comments on this and other posts. You are a very welcome presence on my little site.

  15. A few more thoughts… FCS not going to happen. Let us all thank John McCain. ( At least there is one senator that is not blown away by neat power point presentations.) Oh sure the Army will fight and whine, but the program is in its death throws. The is now way that you can match a 70 ton M1 with a 20 ton…whatever. The concept of mass introduction of robotic land vehicles IMO has some flaws. I have an issue with a army unit being rendered combat ineffective through the application of a broad spectrum jammer in the back of truck. A tip from the Army BS file: Any tactical doctrine that has as its focus ‘Developing a wholistic means of projecting combat power’. Is a doctrine designed to waste money. The army’s tactical justification on the Stryker is based on the theory that with improved sistuational awareness, you can be able to inflict more damage on your foe, while being able to avoid being hit. Thus, you do not need heavy armor. The Stryker is meant to be a mobile network node in a system of systems. The Stryker was not ment to be a active fighter, but more of a director in the combat. Thus, if you ‘upgrade’ a light infantry unit with Stryker’s and improve the units weapon allocations, you can create a brigade that can fight above its weight class. Lovely theory. However, as Iraq is proving, urban combat does not lend itself to the theory. You can get away with it, in an open area against an foe with limited recon. (hmmm Gulf 1 anyone?) The Stryker has a neat concept, but in practice, I would give it to the French and let them play with it. The army instead can use a uparmored hybrid Hummer with a CROWS mount and do 95% of what a Stryker can do at quarter of the cost & be air mobile. Or the Army cold get serious with the Stryker, dumpt some of billion that they are throwing away with FCS program and come up with a real combat force that is air mobile.

  16. Bulldog, Here’s my reply to the loads of questions that you have presented. 1. Shek, you asking for the Army to provide actual criticism of its golden cow is a non sequiter. James claimed that the Army has said that it is undergunned. I’ve never heard that and so all I am asking for is something in writing that shows this statement is true. As far the Army criticizing the Stryker, if it didn’t take improving the Stryker serious and providing a capable vehicle, then it would conduct Initial Impression Reports and assign responsibility to various agencies to follow up that you can find on the CALL website (SIPR version now that classified material has been released from the AKO accessible site), conduct extensive testing at APG in order to approve material releases, or delay fielding of vehicles (MGS) that don’t meet operational specifications. 2. I have worked besides Strykers from 2nd ID for over a month and I have had friends endure the misfortune of being PCS’d to Stryker units. The answer I have unanimously heard is ‘They have problems’ – serious ones. How about these questions? What are these ‘serious problems’ that your friends are telling you. If you are worried about OPSEC, then I can contact you via AKO and address them. I fielded the first battalion set of Strykers as the BN S-4 and spent 18 months commanding Strykers, to include 3 of those months in Iraq, so I I’ll be happy to address them as fact, fiction, or myth (don’t get me wrong here, I thought that the CALL report was generally on target and concured with most of the problems, but the context and general knowledge of the follow on reporting was atrocious and inflammatory in nature). 3. If the current Stryker is the IFV version of it, what’s the rationale in bringing down main armament from 25mm to .50? The Stryker is an ICV, not IFV. If the Army wanted another IFV, it would have fielded an IFV and not an ICV, and you would find a 25mm cannon on it. 4. Where is the Mobile Gun System variant and why is it 3000lbs overweight to begin with? Since I never owned a MGS for obvious reasons, I can’t account for all the weight of the vehicle. However, the ATGM has been fielded in its place and is performing its role very capably using the TOW BB as its primary round. Also, since you asked for some information on it’s use (or more correctly, where are the TOWs?), here’s some information on the ATGM and three examples of its performance in my old battalion (I provided links when the article was still available online or else I cut and paste the text version that was available on http://www.strykernews.com). There are 36 ATGMs operating in each SBCT (27 are filling as interim vehicles until the MGS is fielded, using TOW BB rounds as surrogates for 105mm rounds). My former MGS section sergeant fired a TOW missile at an insurgent vehicle between the Mosul City Hall and what was Strike Main on 10 April last year, destroying the vehicle, killing all 12 insurgents and ending their attempted assault on the city hall (MOSUL, Iraq (Reuters) – ‘A patrol from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment was engaged by 12 assailants in a truck with a rocket-propelled grenade near Al Thubat,’ a U.S. statement said. ‘The patrol returned fire with a missile, destroying the truck and killing all 12 assailants.’) Two months later in June, my sister company used several TOW BB fired from their ATGM Strykers during their assault to retake a police station that had been captured by insurgents (http://www.strykernews.com/archives/2004/06/25/isf_and_first_responders_perform_well.html). These are two examples of the work being performed by the ATGMs. Additionally, the thermals on the MITAS are an incredible observation asset (same ITAS system that would be in your Delta Company gun jeeps) and helped to identify a terrorist safe house just outside of Samarra that had AQ materials, ready made IEDs, and other weapons in a huge cache (http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/12/30/sprj.irq.alqaeda.weapons/index.html) 5. If the platform is so survivable, why the add-on birdcage armor and the problems with rollovers and tires blasting out? The slat armor is an interim solution. I provide more details in a later question. As far as the rollovers, there has not be a correlation established between the birdcage and an increased amount of rollovers (http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/4617218p-4288984c.html). Also, the rate of tires being replaced is not that high. 11 tires a day for the brigade averages to about a tire being replaced once every 200 days. Was there a reason that your division’s SOP was to carry an additional tire on all of your wheeled vehicles? Of course, the extreme heat of the pavement during the summer, having to drive over curbs, and overall harsh environment means that you’re going to eat up tires much faster than in the back forty at your home post. 6. IFVs should have the capability to engage other light-skinned vehicles in conjunction with MBTs; that was the rationale for replacing M113s with Bradleys. Where are the TOWs on the Strykers? Where is the anti-tank capability? And if Strykers were such a hot deal, why weren’t they used during March-May 2003 in the real invasion of Iraq, and in the subsequent fights for Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, Najaf? Once again, ICV, not IFV. TOWs on Strykers addressed above. TOWs = dead tank. I’ve addressed the initial phase of OIF below. As far as the Stryker being used during subsequent full spectrum operations, a Stryker battalion was assigned to the April 2004 Najaf task force and had the main effort mission until it was pulled to reopen the theater’s main supply route. As Murdoc mention already, it was part of the November 2004 Fallujah mission until it was pulled back to Mosul to stomp the insurgent uprising there. You didn’t mention Tal Afar in September 2004, where the Strykers stomped the insurgents that seized the town. 7. You’re talking about how the Stryker Brigades have Javelins, TOWs, 105s, 120s, and 155s on call? So where are the Strykers with the 105s? Where are the Strykers with the TOWs? 19Ks with HMMVVs can pack Javelins and engage targets faster than a Stryker unit by virtue of speed and mobility. And 120 and 155s? Please. You were there when it took Corps level release for us to use indirect in late 2003 perhaps, rendering our 60s and 81s immaterial? Shek’s first post – ‘(105mm once the MGS is fielded)’ Shek’s second post – ‘105mm assault gun (when fielded)’ I will state this a third time. The 105mm assault gun will be available when the MGS is fielded. In Samarra in December 2003, the BDE CDR had release authority for lethal indirect fires and the BN CDR had release authority for non-lethal (illum) indirect fires. That would put the release authority at the DIV CDR level (which had been further released in 4ID), which is where it was at when we first arrived in Mosul in your division’s AO. Of course, if you were conducting high-intensity operations, then the commander that owned the asset would have the release authority for indirect assets except against protected buildings such as mosques. Also, the 155mm has a GPS guided round now that will make it’s use increase in a low-intensity environment since you can guarantee its accuracy with high precision, and the 120mm GPS guided round is around the corner as well. 8. If the Stryker was never meant to be effective against the most common antiarmor weapon out there, what’s the point of fielding it? The only vehicle in the Army inventory whose standard design that is protected from RPG fire is the M1 Abrams, and even it has some vulnerable points where upgraded protection will be installed using a combination of ERA panels and slat armor through the TUSK upgrade. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle requires additional protection in the form of ERA panels. The Stryker also requires additional protection, and there has always been plans to field ERA panels for the Stryker, whose performance just recently met testing specifications and will be fielded by October ’06 according to the contract. Thus, the decision was made that an interim RPG solution was required to allow the Stryker Brigade deploy to Iraq, and that is why the Strykers are currently using slat armor, which has proven to be effective in either defeating RPG warheads or preventing catastrophic damage to the Strykers and minimizing casualties. 9. What’s the point of having TOW-equipped Strykers when one with a 25mm gun can punch through the mud huts we see out in Iraq and the Third World with greater efficiency and less collateral damage? Where’s the enemy armor threat? First you argue that the Stryker Brigade should have the capability to destroy MBTs in an early post and then now you state here why do they have TOWs? I’m not following your argument. If you want to punch through mud huts, .50 cal will do just fine. If you want to limit risk from ricochets or rounds that pass through, MK-19 will do just fine on a mud hut. Want a little more bang, a TOW BB will definitely do the trick and minimize collateral damage (hint, precision guided munition). Worried about missing the hut – the RWS system provides first round/burst accuracy from a stationary position, with the moving capability being added by next summer. 10. I know there were no Stryker units ready at kickoff in March 2003; my question was more rhetorical: Why wasn’t the program accelerated in the wake of the opening shots in OEF to meet deployment in OIF? The program was accelerated after September 11, and there were several courses of action proposed at the senior levels of the Army leadership that included deployment of the Brigade without some of the variants and deployment by asking the SecDef to waive the Congressional certification requirement. The CSA decided on a compressed fielding and certification timeline after weighing the risks and requirements. Even after certification, our deployment was based on meeting some material requirements and retrofits. However, the major reason that the first SBCT wasn’t ready for the opening phase of OIF I was the long halt to the production schedule as the GAO waded through UDLP’s (M113) protest of the decision of the IBCT contract being awared to GM-GDLS to produce the Stryker. A final decision, which denied UDLP’s protest, wasn’t awarded until 9 April 2001. However, as Murdoch stated already, there were other forces available and if the SecDef really wanted us, he could have waived the certification requirement. 10. Considering the majority of our engagements are MOUT scenarios, what’s the point of having a light-skinned vehicle you yourself wouldn’t use in an urban assault being in place? What’s an IFV that can’t follow its dismounts because it has anemic armament and is too thin-skinned to survive? Once again, you can continue to call the Stryker an IFV, even though it is an ICV (‘carrier’, not ‘fighting’). Are you trying to confuse that issue? However, I wouldn’t call the Stryker a light-skinned vehicle. It is a medium armored vehicle (MAV) that can withstand any small arms put up against it up to 14.5mm and has proven itself very survivable in urban combat during operations in Tal Afar, Samarra, and Mosul against IEDs and VBIEDs. That isn’t saying that there haven’t been some destroyed, but you can also point to Bradleys and Abrams that have been destroyed by IEDs and VBIEDs as well, and the fact is that only a tiny fraction of IEDs and VBIEDs have been big enough to seriously damage a Stryker and the soldiers inside. 11. If the Strykers aren’t capable of engaging a reasonable spectrum of threats even in concert with aviation and artillery assets, how do you expect them to accomplish their missions when such supporting assets are unavailable? The SBCT has an organic 155mm battalion, not attached, organic. With the current fielding of the Excalibur GPS PGM 155mm round, it has become even more lethal (and more likely to be used even in restrictive urban environments). As far as aviation assets, SBCT 5 will be fielded with an aviation squadron and the lessons learned from that will be used to field the AV SQDN for SBCT 6 and retrofit the design of SBCTs 1-4. In the interim, aviation units will be assigned for deployments IAW the IBCT O&O and demonstrated by the 3/2 ID (SBCT)’s and 1/25 ID (SBCT)’s deployments to Iraq. If it is a follow-on mission to forced entry forces, then I’m pretty sure that an aviation attachment will be available since the SBCT would be the first large force in the country. However, you could be correct that an aviation force might not be available if the entire active and reserve components were all deployed and the theater commander(s) decided that the SBCT mission was lower priority. 12. If the Stryker was never meant to replace the Bradley, why are units like 2nd ACR kicking theirs to the curb in their Transformation? Murdoch already covered this earlier, but here’s the rollup of SBCTs: 3/2 ID – downsize from Bradleys to Strykers 1/25 ID – go large from light to Strykers 172nd BDE- go large from light Strykers 2 ACR – upsize from light vehicles to Strykers 2/25 ID – go large from light to Strykers 56th BDE (PA ARNG) – downsize from Bradleys to Strykers Overall, the SBCT transformations have actually made the Army heavier. As far as having two mechanized units turn in their Bradleys, I can’t answer specifically why the Army leadership didn’t choose all light battalions, but choosing a National Guard Brigade and an Active Duty Brigade that had never deployed on a real world mission while assigned Bradleys and were separate brigades that wouldn’t upset divisional structures probably had a lot to do with it. Also, choosing an active duty brigade that had a major C17 hub 5 miles down the road and a major sea port 15 miles down the road probably factored into the equation as well. 13. If a given platform is able to accomplish the mission better and has greater survivability, why replace it with a thin-skinned sardine can that has bits and pieces of the Land Warrior program and nothing more really to talk about? What vehicle is the Stryker replacing? We have already established that it doesn’t replace the Bradley or the Abrams. You’re knocking down a strawman here, again. 14. For me to say that I won’t be on the boat until Strykers are proven in offensive ops is merely a deliberately sarcastic comment. You already know these things won’t survive in a serious MOUT scenario like an Ar Ramadi or an An Najaf thick with RPG-7s; so what are they good for? Screening actions? Interdiction of roads? Holding up soda pop stands alongside Route Tampa? Where’s the MGS and all the firepower that’s supposed to be on the table to compensate? I really want to ride into an engagement in this thing only to be dropped off ten clicks from the objective because it doesn’t have the firepower or the armor to follow me in? I might as well be riding on a deuce-and-a-half then. I know there’s a .50 or a MK19 on that. Equivalency to Stryker IFV armament? 100%. How pathetic is that? Look at the facts – the Stryker has performed very well and has participated in the majority of major combat operations since the fall of the regime. The survivability of the vehicle has exceeded expectations and for the record, the furthest I ever had to walk to an OBJ was 50m, maybe 100m. Duece-and-a-half protection equivalency to Stryker ICV (not IFV)? 0% 15. However, the Stryker is intended to fill far more roles than it is adequate for, in anticipation of the FCS. We’re paying for Clinton-era peacekeeping doctrine and procurement with a platform that can’t slug it out with traditional militaries like the PLA, and with our totally inadequate manpower we’re stripping away heavy armor when we need it the most to keep it alive for a slugfest in Korea or someplace else. The Stryker is intended to fill the gap between the capability of light forces and heavy forces. It is a medium weight force that was designed to excel in mid- to low-intensity scenarios and have the capability to fight and win in a high-intensity scenario as well. However, it is not the optimal force for a high-intensity battle and was never billed as such, so your PLA example is another strawman. 16. Digitization of the battlefield is only a force multiplier to a certain extent. There’s not much point in being ‘the firstest with the mostest’ when what we can drag to the fight is a lot of a weak fighting platform. We can’t always depend on attack aviation and indirect to save our asses either. Tomorrow, DIVARTY for the 101st gets officially inactivated as part of the ‘Transformation’ … there goes part of the proven formula that won us Gulf One, OEF, and OIF. Artillery didn’t play during in OEF through at least Operation Anaconda, so it wasn’t part of the formula there. Also, while artillery will continue to be important, higher level divisional assets won’t be as necessary as PGMs and UCAVs continue to proliferate, and BDEs will continue to have their own organic artillery battalions to support their maneuver. Mass is being replaced by precision. Also, digitization is a great thing and does provide an incredible advantage, especially now that UAVs are finding their way down to the company level so that the soldiers that will act on UAV intel are the ones flying the UAV. However, I am with you that it will never eliminate having to react to contact at the company level and below, although the Stryker is not the weak platform you like to claim. 17. As for what does not make ‘sense’ to you? If I see a Stryker Brigade, fully equipped, with the MGS and everything else take on an entrenched enemy like in An Najaf or take out a Syrian Division? Then I’m a believer. All I see is something running around getting blasted by RPGs and IEDs/VBIEDs over and over again like a mere guntruck. Strykers haven’t bled the enemy enough to tell me they are a viable future. Hundreds of insurgents have been killed by Stryker forces in Tal Afar, Mosul, Samarra, along MSR Tampa throughout Iraq, and elsewhere. However, that is only one metric to measure success. And yes, you are correct that the Strykers have been attacked frequently, and just as frequently, they drive through the ambush, dismount and kill or capture enemy personnel that are still presented, and then continue on with their mission.

  17. With respect to the Stryker being undergunned, you have the host of critics, and various war college folks presenting papers that show the limitations of the vehicle. The public (unclassified) face of the Army is thus far refusing to state that it is undergunned. The Army is getting around having to publicly stating this by stating that the Stryker is meets expectations and is usable for Low intensity conflicts. (Read – not for real combat) The Marines on the other hand are a tad more open. The LAV-25 a close relative which has much the same role, the Marines are open in stating that it is under gunned and needs upgrades. The Marine SLEP program is working on improving the LAV lethality. See Marine Program Element: 0206623M Marine Corps Ground Combat/Supporting Arms A simple truth of combat is that armored vehicles draw fire. You cannot, hide a armored vehicle. You cannot protect an armored vehicle with a sign that reads ‘do not attack – not ment for direct combat’ The argument with the infantry carrier vs infantry fighting vehicle is an interesting but pointless point. Anything on the battlefield with military value is a target. By design, the Stryker IMO actually weakens the brigade. By being the weak point, you can disporporitionaly cripple a Stryker Brigade by killing the strykers. By making the Stryker ineffective vs light armored vehicles, and unable to fire while moving, the vehicle becomes a high value, low risk target. By claiming that the Stryker is not ment for direct combat, the arguement is a cure all against those claims that the Stryker is an inadaquate vehicle. The arguement however, still does not address problem. While IMO, the concept of the IFV has never been really proved. (with respect to how effective infantry is when fighting through weapon ports. ) That said, the effectivness of the IFV vehical has been proven. Virtually all modern infantry carriers have significant independent firepower. A pure infantry carrier really has no place in the current order of combat. The function of transporting troops can be more cheaply and efficiently with other vehicles. It makes no sense to spend 2 million a copy for a armored vehicle without a self defense capability. If the Stryker ever appears on a battlefield opposite a Russian BMP, you are going to have a lot of dead Strykers. The quoted role of the Stryker ‘The Stryker, the combat vehicle of choice for the Army’s Interim Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs), is a highly deployable-wheeled armored vehicle that combines firepower, battlefield mobility, survivability and versatility, with reduced logistics requirements.’ The Stryker, does not meet those statements. The mobile gun system, even it deployed will not resolve the issue. A) 105mm is not adaquate as an antitank weapon. B) Even if it is, the vehicle only holds 18 rounds. C) Anti-tank rounds, are of limited use when supporting infantry operations. D) 18 rounds- how are you going to allocate between HE and AP rounds?

  18. James: One thing I will heartily agree with but I don’t think I’ve mentioned in this latest round of discussion is that the $2 million price tag seems pretty high for something with this mission. My understanding is that the 105mm MGS is not intended to be an anti-tank system, though of course they’d try if pressed. As we all will agree on, I think, if a Stryker can get close enough to a tank to use its 105, the tank will make swiss cheese out of it. The TOW missiles (or, of course, dismounted infantry with missiles) on the ATGM Strykers are intended as the primary anti-tank systems in a Stryker brigade. IMHO, the fact that the 105 is intended to support infantry operations instead of fighting tanks is a reason why the 25mm chain gun idea doesn’t really fit the bill. That 105 sure would come in handy against hardened bunkers and dug-in troops. The 18 shot load is disappointing, but that should be plenty in most cases if used in the role it’s intended. I still think there’s a place for a 25mm (or 30mm, as previous discussions have noted) Stryker. Especially as I’m not convinced that the 105mm MGS will work as advertised.

  19. Murdoc, A couple of revisions. I was wrong on the Stryker cost. Per the GAO the Stryker unit cost is 4.13 million. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04925.pdf ON the 105mm. Yes, they are stating that the gun’s purpose is to support the infantry. If I can get a complete copy of the MSG Statement of Operational Requirements, I would feel better – the text below is an excerpt- I am not sure how authentic. Essential Weapon system of the MGS: Be capable of perforating the frontal turret armour of a T-72M tank at 2000m. Main armament operational ammunition: AT – APFSDS-T M-428, DM63C and C76 rounds. In any event, IMO the MGS variant even if it works as advertised, will not be an effective system. I doubt the crew has good visibility, and it does not appear to have a self protection weapon. More over, you have to keep in mind that the Stryker’s are intended to be a self sufficient force. The 18 round ammo load, is going to give the brigade logistical fits. They would be better served by dropping an order of magnitude, to 75mm shells. The original concept of the rapid deployment force had a gun carrier variant with a rapid fire 75mm gun.

  20. ”As for what does not make ‘sense’ to you? If I see a Stryker Brigade, fully equipped, with the MGS and everything else take on an entrenched enemy like in An Najaf or take out a Syrian Division?”’ A Syrian Divison of what? Armored with T-55s and BTR-60s? Armored with T-72s and BMP-1s? Foot mobile reservists with AK-47s? Tank killer commandos dug in? Well if it is the last option then the M-2 Bradely and M-113 would be in trouble as well if the Syrian teams are in good positions in close terrain and ready/spoiling for a fight like they were in 1982 when the IDF rolled into Lebanon. The Syrian anti tank units armed with MILAN-1s, RPG-7s, AT-4s and AT-3s turned the upgraded IDF M-113s into rather unpopular death traps (guys walked rather then ride) and even inflicted losses on tanks. And since then the Syrians have gotten even better ATGMs. There are not very many armored personal carriers that could take beatings like that. So I guess if that is the test, we have no APC/IFV/ICV to rush in guns blazing and take a beating from the latest Russian ATGMs… And I had always thought the Styrkers job was not to charge into the teeth of targets like this.