16:43 13 July 2003

The Army’s first Stryker light armored vehicle brigade, the 2nd Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade, is entering the Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation phase, according to this National Defense Magazine article. According to the article, the weight problems that have plagued the project from day one have been mostly worked out and the plan is to have the brigade fully operational this fall.

The Stryker is an 8-wheeled, 19 ton armored vehicle based upon the LAV III. There will be two basic configurations of the Stryker, the Infantry Carrier Vehicle and the Mobile Gun System. The ICV has 8 sub-configurations, including basic troop carrier, recon vehicle, commander’s vehicle, and anti-tank guided missile carrier. The MGS will sport a 105mm cannon and be able to provide quick, heavy firepower for the mobile troops. The Stryker can cruise more than 300 miles at 60 miles per hour.

Although much lighter armed and armored than M1 Abrams tanks and M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, the Stryker provides good protection for it’s troops while still supplying enough firepower to support nearly any infantry operation. The light design allows for quick forward deployment. A C-130 can carry a Stryker to moderate airfields, while C-17s and C-5s can carry four and seven Strykers, respectively. This is in contrast to Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which can only come into good airports on C-17s (two per flight) or C-5s (three). This will allow the US to quickly deploy medium infantry capable of defeating anything less than heavy armored forces.

I think that as soon as the brigade is fully activated, it should be deployed to Iraq. They should be flown into several different airfields by all means possible. Maybe rush one battalion into Kuwait via C-5 to test that capability, then rush the same units straight into the “Sunni Triangle” of central Iraq via C-130 to test and train for that type of operation. The harsh environment and possibility of actual combat as they deploy would be a great test for men, equipment, and tactics. There would be problems, of course, but that’s how “experience” is gained. And I’d rather we gain experience in Iraq, where the military situation is more or less under control, than in Korea or Syria or Iran, etc.

If the Stryker system works and fights as advertised, they could quickly become the most valuable units in the Army. We are fighting what I call the 4th World War. We shouldn’t be using 3rd World War weapons against Third World enemies.