August 13, 2008:
The U.S. Army has ordered another 614 Stryker
wheeled armored vehicles, at an average cost of $974,000 each. The army has already received 2,550 Strykers. Production
began in 2000, and four years later, the first Stryker brigade entered combat
in Iraq. There are currently seven
Stryker brigades (six active duty, one National Guard). Soldiers who have used
Stryker in combat were enthusiastic about it.
the Stryker was controversial, mainly because they were new, and light armored vehicles that moved via wheels,
rather than tracks. The Strykers also caught a lot of criticism for the usual
problems a new combat vehicle encounters. The Stryker brigade equipment
exchanged a lot of armor protection and heavy weapons for more electronics and
communications equipment. The brigade has an initial version of the battlefield
Internet that the army was slowly putting together. The initial 2004 combat
actions in and around Mosul were not as intense as they were down around
Baghdad. But there were heavily armed Baath party diehards and al Qaeda
terrorists up in Mosul. Thus the Stryker brigade saw a lot of action, some of it quite heavy.
It was thought that the Strykers would be very vulnerable to RPGs, but only two
vehicles were lost that way in the first
year. In some actions, platoons (four vehicles) of Strykers had dozens of RPGs
fired at them with no serious damage. The protection on the Strykers has been
up to the job, but the troops, and hostile Iraqis, have also noted that the
Strykers were faster, and quieter, than armored vehicles. This turns out to be
a battlefield advantage, something American troops had forgotten about. The
last large scale use of wheeled armored vehicles by American troops was in
World War II. Some of the details of how those vehicles could be used had
apparently been forgotten. A wheeled armored vehicle can more quickly move out
of an ambush, or any other kind of trouble. Wheeled armored vehicles also make
a lot less noise. The track laying system is inherently noisy, wheels are not.
Strykers can sneak up on the bad guys, an M-2 Bradley or M-1 tank cannot.
road, the Stryker is not as mobile as a tracked vehicle. Canadian troops in Afghanistan
recently got reminded of this, as their LAVs (a cousin of the Stryker, also
used by the U.S. Marines) often got stuck when they left the few roads found
over there. The Canadians brought in some tracked armored vehicles to deal with
the worst off-road situations.
in the Stryker Brigades were trained to the same high standards of all American
infantry, which means soldiers capable of operating at high speed. The Stryker
brigades new communications system
allowed for speedier operations. Whether it's getting out of an ambush, or
getting into position for a raid or attack, the extra speed leaves the enemy at