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Goodbye To The Heavies
by Mike Perry
October 18, 2009

The U.S. Army is converting two of its Heavy Brigade Combat Teams (HBCT) into  Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT), which will replace tracked vehicles (M-1 tanks and M-2 infantry vehicles) with wheeled Stryker Infantry Vehicle. The goal is to have a lighter and more quickly deployable force, focused more toward infantry operations, rather than heavy armor based tracked vehicles. Lighter units have proven more effective and flexible in diverse counterinsurgency environments the past few years.

SBCT’s comprise 3 Stryker infantry battalions, each having 36 Stryker vehicles distributed among 3 companies (12 each). Nine Stryker Mobile Gun vehicles,  mounting 105 mm guns are there for anti-tank and infantry support roles. Nine Strykers, equipped with guided anti-tank missiles, form an anti-tank company. There’s also an artillery battalion with 18 towed 155mm Howitzers, a support units (usually company size) for Medical, Maintenance and Distribution, Headquarters, Signal, and Engineers. There is  Reconnaissance squadron comprised of 42 vehicles. Total brigade manpower is 3,900 troops.

In comparison, HBCT’s contain two battalions of 28 M1 Abrams tanks each (14 per company) along with two infantry companies of 14 Bradley’s each. There is also an armed reconnaissance squadron of 30 Bradley’s. An artillery battalion has 16 M-109 155mm self-propelled howitzers along with a support battalion and brigade special troops battalion consisting of headquarters, signal, intelligence, security and engineer companies round. Total brigade manpower is 3,900 troops.

1st HBCT of the 1st Armored Division along with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment will undergo the transformation in 2011 and 2012 respectively. This brings the total number of the Army’s Brigade Combat teams, all of which are designed to be self sustaining without additional support, to 45, and continues to confirm the move away from Cold War era doctrine of Heavy, to counterinsurgency mode with Light.


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