Strykers on a roll…of sorts

The Ottawa Citizen: U.S. army vehicles have same rollover problems as ours

More on the Canadian LAV accident in Afghanistan. Sensational headlines, but they make a valid point in the middle of the piece:

But some of the U.S. accidents in Iraq are eerily similar to Canadian fatalities. In December 2003, two Strykers rolled over into a canal near Duluiyah, Iraq, killing three and trapping 19 underwater. An investigation determined that the side of the dirt track the vehicle was on gave way, sending the Stryker tumbling into the canal.

Will someone please explain how a design fault was responsible for rolling into a canal after the dirt track collapsed? The accidents sound eerily similar to Canadian accidents when the roadway gave way below their LAVs, to be sure, but unless the argument is that the roadways would not have given way under tracks it’s a moot point.

Maybe the roads wouldn’t have collapsed under tracked vehicles of the same weight. It seems to be a slight possibility, at least, due to the lower ground PSI weight dispersed on tracks, though I haven’t ever heard one person try to argue this line of reasoning. In these cases it seems like a long shot.

The only valid argument, it seems to an armchair lieutenant like me, is that the vehicles just plain weigh too much. This is the one Stryker/LAV criticism that has really held up well, and it is, in fact, a shortcoming in the design. At least in the sense that weight requirements were not met. I don’t think anyone is suggesting otherwise. But it’s the strategic mobility that’s most affected by this fact. If a little tactical mobility is lost due to the vehicle being a little overweight, then you have to adapt the way you use the vehicle. But it’s not directly responsible for any of these roll-over accidents.

In this Canadian accident, the LAV-III driver swerved at that last possible second to avoid hitting a civilian car. That is why the vehicle rolled. Maybe the swerve took it into soft sand or a too-steep shoulder along the highway. Maybe a vehicle with a lower center of gravity would not not have rolled. Those are important things to look at, consider, and integrate into training and doctrine down the road, but to carry on and on faulting the vehicle doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

The constant criticism of the Stryker is so tiresome that I’m staring to sound like a zealot in my defense of the thing. That’s not what I’m trying to be.


  1. If someone really wanted to carp about roll over accidents – I would look into the Humvee. Roll overs are killing a too many troops. From as near as I can tell about 5% of the deaths are due to Humvee roll overs.

  2. I wouldn’t blame it on the stryker so much as on a lack of foresight. Could there have been other safty features designed to help the crew exit faster or for the driver to help prevent the rollover in the first place. More drills on safly and quickly exiting the vehicle, you know, something like that. Or it could be that some accidents just are gonna happen no matter what you do.

  3. Maybe we could train the drivers to go over cars that get in the way instead of worrying about civlians who don’t know how to respect a tracked military vehicle. Seriously. ‘Let me get this straight, Abdul. You missed this big, loud, tracked vehicle with the big chain gun on the top of it? Just never saw it?’

  4. Joseph, The last thing you typically want to try and do during a rollover is to try and exit the vehicle. Rehearsing a rollover drill and fire drill is one of the things that supposed to be done prior to leaving on missions. In the end, driving in a combat zone is difficult and accidents will happen; however, drivers’ training is a key component to reducing accidents – but in some cases, there’s literally nothing you can do.