Tracking the Stryker Brigades

stryker_sm.jpgAn article in Today’s Tacoma News-Tribune has this quick rundown of the current status of the Army’s seven Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT):

  • The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division from Fort Lewis is now in Baghdad on its second deployment to Iraq. It was the initial Stryker brigade to see action, in 2003-04.
  • The 2nd Cavalry Regiment — previously the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Fort Lewis — is stationed in Germany. As the 1-25, the brigade spent a year in Iraq in 2004-05.
  • The 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, stationed in Alaska, recently reflagged as the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and is resetting after returning in December from a 15-month deployment in Iraq.
  • The 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will leave Fort Lewis next month for Iraq.
  • The 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is in the early stages of development at Fort Lewis.
  • The 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii is converting from light infantry to a Stryker brigade, although its development is tied up in a federal court lawsuit brought by environmentalists who oppose Stryker training in the islands.
  • The 56th Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard is scheduled to complete its transformation to a Stryker brigade in 2008.

The 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division will be reflagged as the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division when the current 2nd Brigade is inactivated late this year.

When the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division deploys to Iraq next month, it will be the first unit to deploy with the Stryker Mobile Gun System (MGS). Troops have been waiting for the firepower of the 105mm gun for over three years.

Pic below.

Click for bigger image

U.S. Army soldiers assigned with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, train on the Stryker Mobile Gun System from James Spicer, an instructor from General Dynamics Land Systems. U.S. Army photo by Jason Kaye

Originally posted in September.

Information Liberation took Michael Gilbert’s Tacoma News-Tribune article entitled New Stryker boasts plenty of firepower and renamed it The Military’s New Depleted Uranium Killing Machine. Classy.


  1. A big enough shaped charge can go through practically anything. There are certainly shaped charges that will penetrate the front armor of an Abrams (which is not paltry), however, they’re probably only available on anti-tank missiles. From what I know of Strykers, yes, a moderately sized shaped charge (like those ones made in Iran) would go through one. However, keep in mind that that doesn’t necessarily mean it will do a lot of damage. I forget where I saw it, but there was a picture of an M1 that had been hit in the turret ring (weak point) with some kind of RPG-like shaped charge. The penetrator jet went into the tank, through the back of someone’s seat (sideways, across the back, if it had been an inch or two over it would have really ruined someone’s day) and then out the other side, taking out a hydraulic line as it went. The tank was disabled due to the severed line, but recovered and repaired. As far as I know, nobody was badly hurt. So basically shaped charges will go through anything, even a stryker, but if there’s sufficient armor in their way and a decent spall lining then they might only hurt people in their direct line of flight.

  2. Ya’ll need to differentiate between a shaped charge and an explosively formed projectile (EFP). A shaped charge is basically an inverted cone of explosives, which, when detonated, basically forms a jet of extremely high temperature plasma, focusing the energy of the explosive on a small point-generally, the hole this type of a warhead makes in an armored vehicle is not much bigger than your finger. However, for maximum effect, the warhead must be detonated at a specific distance from the target-think the focal point of a parabola in high school geometry. If you can force the warhead to detonate further away, it will be much less effective. This is what the slat-armor ‘cages’ you see on the Strykers do. During WWII, some tank crews would strap mattresses to the sides of their tanks to achieve the same purpose against panzerfaust and bazooka rounds. Finally, the frontal armor on pretty much all first line MBTs will defeat just about any shaped charge (HEAT) warhead. This is the reason for the proliferation of top-attack ATGMs now taking the field. The top armor is thinner. Top-attack can be achieved two ways: first, the missile goes way up and comes back down, like the Javelin does. The other approach is used in the TOW-IIB, where the missile flies a flat course to the target, but actually flies over it, and the warheads detonate downward, trigger by a magnetic sensor. Shaped charge warheads are the primary type of warhead used in lightweight AT weapons like the RPG and the AT-4. An EFP is different. It consists of a concave metal disk in front of a block of explosive. When detonated, the explosive turns the metal disk into a projectile that looks something like a shuttlecock. It is this projectile that punches holes in armor. EFPs are being used in the newest and deadliest IEDs. They’ll punch holes in all sorts of things, including most IFVs (Bradley, BMP, Warrior, etc) and probably the side and rear armor of a lot of tanks. And BTW, the dead tree version of the TNT included about 4 pages of articles, including a big front page color photo, on 4-2IN.

  3. Yes, it’s much easier to defeat the top armor of a tank, which is why many weapons target that area. However, I do believe it’s possible to make a shaped charge/EFP large enough to penetrate the front armor of a modern heavy tank. It’s just that nobody really bothers since it’s so much easier to target a weaker area instead. I was pretty sure that most anti-tank weapons with shaped charges have had copper liners to form a penetrator for the last few decades. But maybe I’m wrong, I’ll have to do a little research. My understanding is that they are more effective that way, why wouldn’t you add the liner?

  4. Darn, I posted a follow-up comment with links in it and it’s gone into moderation… In the meantime, here’s an interesting quote: ‘t has a small shaped-charge warhead in the nose probe, which explodes the ERA when it’s hit, so that the main warhead remains effective against up to 1000 mm of conventional armour behind the ERA.’ As far as I can tell, that’s not an EFP, it’s just a shaped charge. 5kg or so of explosive (~11 lbs). 1000mm is over 3 feet. That’s a lot of armor penetration! Maybe enough to get through the front armor of an Abrams, although it probably wouldn’t due to the sloping. Still, pretty serious.

  5. For example, this article on US HEAT rounds says: ‘A copper shaped charge liner and wave shaper are contained within the warhead.’ As I understand it, the shaped charge liner and wave shaper form an EFP. The AT-4, on the other hand, does not appear to have a liner, although it does state: ‘The extremely destructive, 440 gram shaped-charge explosive penetrates more than 14 inches (35.6 cm) of armor.’ If a 440 gram shaped charge warhead can penetrate 14 inches of armor, a Stryker doesn’t have much of a chance against any shaped charge, EFP or not. Anyway, you’re right, I knew not all shaped charges featured EFPs but I figured pretty much all of them did. I guess only the larger ones like tank rounds do. As for the TOW, even older models are pretty powerful: ‘The high-explosive shaped-charge warhead of the BGM-71A detonates on impact, and can penetrate armour with a thickness of about 600 mm.’ 600mm is a lot. Not enough to penetrate the front armor of an Abrams, but it’d get at least half way through if it hit at a perpendicular angle. So, even small shaped charges are powerful, and EFPs (shaped charges w/liners) penetrate even better.

  6. Guess I was asking about EFPs, since the images I saw had a 4′ or so hole in the bottom and the top of the vehicle. ‘The extremely destructive, 440 gram shaped-charge explosive penetrates more than 14 inches (35.6 cm) of armor.’:’ That is not inspiring news :(.

  7. Anti-tank weapons have had the upper hand on tank armor pretty much since WW2 (when the shaped charge was invented). It’s nothing new… As always, the best defense is a good offense. You have to have good visibility and awareness and take out the other guys before they can hit you. The good news is, something like 80% of IEDs are discovered and disposed of before they can detonate. The bad news is the other 20%. But really, this problem won’t go away until all the IED implacers are dead, have run away, or been convinced to return to civil society.