Lonnie Shoultz, a guest columnist at Soldiers for the Truth, thinks the Stryker is a disaster.
As one who has watched carefully over the past three years the Army’s tortuous efforts to develop the eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle, the news that the Fort Lewis brigade has been earmarked for occupation duty in Iraq is shocking and disheartening. It reconfirms the fact that the operational tempo of the 1990s and post-9/11 era combined with the Clinton administration’s rash force cuts“ has bled the Army white. This also indicates that the current Army leadership is indifferent to the dangers in which it is placing the unit’s 3,600 troops.
And he brings up the Mobile Gun System (although he calls it the “MAIN Gun System”) version of the Stryker, which is to sport a 105mm gun, that isn’t ready yet. I knew they were having trouble with it and that no MGS Strykers would be deploying to Iraq, but he writes that things are a lot worse than that and that the Army is looking at using a TOW launcher instead of the 105. (There’s already plans to field a TOW-armed, anti-tank guided missile version, although I don’t think any of those are going to Iraq, either.)
It is apparent that Keane and those on the Army staff who assisted him are not veterans of urban warfare where the buildings, vehicles, targets and infantry are all operating very close together. Shooting a TOW missile into that environment is liable to kill more of our troops than the enemy. The resulting shell and other blast fragments are also certain to cut the tires off any Stryker vehicles nearby.
Now, that seems to make a certain amount of sense, but the house that Uday and Qusay were in was attacked by a number (I think ten, but some Javelins were fired ineffectively first and I’m not sure if the total counts the Javelins or not) of TOWs. As you can see in this picture, the TOWs (fired from a Humvee in this case) were certainly in an urban environment, and the tires on the other Humvees (or the white civilian vehicle behind one of them) seem to be just fine. Also, the troops on the ground don’t seem to be particularly concerned about backblast, although the guy next to the firing Humvee seems to be in the act of rising after the missile was fired. There does appear to be a fair amound of dust blowing around on the left of the picture, but nothing to be terribly concerned about. Also, if he’s referring instead to fragments from the impact of shots, I don’t know how much different they would be from a TOW than from a 105mm gun.
Lonnie Shoultz is a former Special Agent with the U.S. Treasury Department who served in combat in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and 5th Special Forces Group, where he received the Purple Heart medal on several occasions.
so who am I to argue with him? But I see that photo, and I’ve got to think those guys know what they’re doing.
Either way, he’s completely right that the Stryker may have some serious issues that need to be resolved. The simple fact is that we don’t really know until it goes into action. This is a chance to try it out early in the life cycle of the platform, and if there are problems, they can be corrected early in production, or the rest of the program can be cancelled if major problems can’t be fixed. What if we had found out in 1991 that the M1 tank wasn’t really any good? It would have been a day late and a dollar short, because virtually the entire Army had already transitioned to it from the M60. This is a chance to make a more informed decision.