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Jun 24, 2005


For anyone interested, I pulled these remarks on the Stryker that were made by COL Brown, the commander of 1/25 ID (SBCT), whose BDE has been in Iraq for nearly 12 months and is in the process of redeploying.


Presenter: Colonel Robert Brown, Commander of The 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Force-Northwest Wednesday, September 14, 2005 11:00 a.m. EDT

Q Sir, this is Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg News. We met back in November when I was up there. I have an equipment question. Not only are you fighting the insurgents, but you're the highlight unit for the Stryker, that's gotten mixed publicity. We were told by The Washington Post earlier this year that it could be unsafe for soldiers to ride in. Give me the unvarnished assessment of how well the vehicle has performed and what are some of the weaknesses that need to be corrected.

COL. BROWN: Yeah, Tony, I'm glad you brought that up, because I'll tell you, nothing makes our soldiers madder than criticism of the Stryker. That report, I think, was absolutely ridiculous. The Post -- I'll be honest with you. They had a reporter up here and he wanted to provide input. I said, "Go talk to any soldiers you want. Go ask any soldier which vehicle they would prefer to ride in; they would choose a Stryker, I guarantee it." And they never asked them. They published the report based on a lessons learned report of how you could improve the vehicle. Well, of course, we try to improve every vehicle we have. No vehicle's perfect.

The Stryker's fantastic. It has incredible mobility, incredible speed. It has saved hundreds of my soldiers' lives. I'm telling you hundreds of their lives. We've been hit by 84 suicide VBIEDs have hit Strykers, and I've had the greater majority of soldiers walk away without even a scratch. It's absolutely amazing. If I were in any other type vehicle, I would've had huge problems.

The other thing is it carries, you know, the infantry men in the back that no other vehicle can do; nine infantry men that come out of that Stryker and are incredible in urban operations. You could ask any one of my soldiers, and they would choose the Stryker of any vehicle they could possibly ride in. By the way, our Strykers are in their second year of combat. We left our new ones back at our home station, and we fell in on Strykers that are in their second year of combat.

And I love the other vehicles in the Army inventory. I had a Bradley battalion, but there's no way you could take a Bradley two years in a row in combat. You couldn't do it maintenance wise. We maintained over 95 percent operational readiness rate. We went -- with 5.2 million miles on the Strykers -- 5.2 million miles, and I will tell you, interestingly enough, that same Washington Post reporter, after that report came out, he came to me and he said, please, Colonel Brown, do not make me ride in a Humvee. He said please, let me ride in a Stryker. And I was too nice a guy. I should have made him ride in a Humvee. I let him ride in a Stryker.

But our soldiers love the Stryker. Does it need improvements? I don't know of any vehicle that doesn't. I'd put a laser range-finder on it. I'd stabilize the gun, maybe put a larger gun on it. The Army's working all that. Is it a fantastic vehicle? Yes. You know, I alone put thousands and thousands of miles on my Stryker, and I'm going to miss it when I go back home. I rode in it today for the last time, and I got to tell you it's been very good to me. And I'm going to miss it a lot. And it's a great vehicle, fantastic vehicle.

Q Colonel, do you have any specific tactical instances where in the city Mosul these vehicles accomplished more than a tank could of or a Bradley could have, given their construction and their mobility?

COL. BROWN: How much time do you have? Because I could give you an example every single night. I'll give you one example of a company. In Deuce Four, 1-24 Infantry, a young company commander out being very agile and adaptive, he went out, and during the day some cars drove by and fired at the Strykers. They chased the cars in the Stryker. You wouldn't have been able to keep up in a tank or a Bradley. They chased the cars. The guys got out of the car and being, again, the cowards that they are, they hid behind women and children, so the soldiers didn't shoot them. But they went up to the cars. They found caches of weapons in the cars, and they found their wallets in the cars. They then went to some sources who said, yeah, we know where these guys live. So two hours later, they went and raided the home with one platoon, captured some more. Those guys talked. They went and raided more.

By the end of the night, one night, one Stryker company, about 120 soldiers, about, you know, 14 Strykers involved, went seven different locations, captured 15 out of 20 terrorist cell members, captured mortar systems, sniper rifles, a very large cache of weapons, et cetera, all that was mobile, all in cars. And they were able to get their quickly using their digital capability, using the speed of the Stryker, and oh, by the way, maintained perfect situational understanding at this time using a UAV up above and all the digital systems in what the Stryker affords. And the biggest thing the Stryker affords is nine infantrymen out in this urban setting -- this was all in a city, population of 2 million -- a very populated area, downtown city area that this happened. So that's one example. It happens every night, and every single day the Stryker has performed like that. And it's been a fantastic vehicle.

Another couple of quick examples are, you know, we needed some forces down in the Euphrates River Valley to stop foreign fighters from flowing in. Tanks and Bradleys would have to head down there. They couldn't drive the 300 kilometers without a huge logistics tail and requiring more fuel. And I love tanks and Bradleys, again, but they all, you know, everything does something a little different.

With the Stryker -- we sent a Cavalry Stryker unit down there, the 214 RSTA Cavalry Squadron, and they got down there in less then a day, no problem at all with 55 Strykers down there all over the battlefield, putting in -- one of those Strykers put in 38,000 miles alone this year over here, didn't require a heading. They drove down on their own.

Had another battalion in Fallujah; we needed them up in Mosul. Within 12 hours they drove from Fallujah 350 -- 400 kilometers, maybe more, but all the way from Fallujah up to Mosul, got in the fight the same day in Mosul. Couldn't do that with any other type vehicle because, again, they carry all those soldiers. They were ready to fight. In fact, on the move from Fallujah, we diverted a company to a mission enroute, and they did a great job on a mission enroute. Couldn't do that with our type vehicles.

So I could on forever about what the Stryker has done, but the important thing about the Stryker is -- are the soldiers, the great agile depth of soldiers that it carries inside and the digital connectivity and the speed, mobility and survive ability. We were hit by 115 RPGs hit Strykers over the year we had here, not one penetrated a Stryker, not one. Not any -- no machine gun fire penetrated a Stryker inside. We did have a soldier that was killed in a hatch by an RPG -- standing up in a hatch, and they fired from a building on top, but not one RPG penetrated a Stryker; 115 hits, it's a fantastic vehicle.

And I think another -- you know, you have a lot of other units and elements looking for it and wanting Strykers. It's very popular. The biggest problem we have is keeping our brigade together because we're more powerful then. Because everybody wants a little bit because they're so useful and such a fantastic vehicle in concept.

MR. WHITMAN: I guess we'll put you down as an undecided, Colonel, on the Stryker there.

COL. BROWN: (Laughs.) Well, I've had three and a half years in command, and I -- you know, I did this test of the Stryker versus the 1-1-3 three years ago. And I had a 1-1-3 Company many years ago, as a matter of fact, serving with General Casey at the time at Fort Carson, Colorado, and you know, to even think to compare those two is ridiculous. The Stryker is a fantastic vehicle, and I will tell you that certainly it can be improved. But every soldier -- you could talk to any of my soldiers, every one of them would choose a Stryker to ride in. It's done a fantastic job here in Iraq.


wow. free that speech. whilst i understand a need to criticise, why not email those same criticisms to your congressman/woman? POGO isn't your government. POGO doesn't make policy or elect officials. POGO wasn't set up in the constitution, its a project.
I would agree with some comments if POGO was, say, CNN or other multinational news corporation. Its a small website with visitors, give them some slack (read slat) for coming up with an educated post title. Next time Georgey Bush makes a speech on TV, ask him to use a 19th Century Literary reference. Perhaps "Bring it on" is too literal?

“When the driver is “buttoned up” his view is a video screen consisting of a ten degree field of view which creates a kind of myopic visual environment. Consequently, fatigue while operating the vehicle is a common occurrence, even under optimum rest condition.”

Which is not different from any armored vehicle.


1. Stryker cost. Each Stryker doesn’t cost $4 million unless you add in all the costs of the Stryker program, such as military construction, testing (to include, ironically, the costs of equipping M113A3s for the medium armored vehicle comparison exercise), etc. The figures that I have seen for the actual production cost of each Stryker puts it in the $1.42 million range (from a GAO report). While I am sure that the figure has probably risen since the particular GAO report has been published, I’m sure it hasn’t tripled.

2. Slat armor effectiveness. Have you spoken to the authors of the CALL report? What was their definition of effective? Did they fully understand how the slat armor works? These questions will go a long way in clearing up your questions. My guess is that their definition is of “effective” is that the RPG was “defeated.” However, the slat armor was never designed to “defeat” 100% of RPGs. Instead, it will defeat a large number of RPG rounds and minimize the effects of the majority of the remaining RPG rounds by causing them activate on the slat armor so that the shape charge’s power is dissipated prior to reaching the primary Stryker armor. This is exactly what COL Brown was speaking of – no penetrations of the Stryker armor (I’m curious that you speak of no penetrations of the “slat armor”; if the soldiers and leaders of the two brigades actually used “no penetration of slat armor,” then they were using the terminology very loosely – the precise terminology should have referred to no penetration of the hull armor or the Stryker’s main armor, etc.). To me, the facts presented by COL Brown are pretty clear and demonstrate that the slat armor is saving soldiers' lives; the only thing that is inconsistent is use of precise language.

3. RWS. There is no inconsistency here by the Army. While the CALL report omitted the fact that the RWS as fielded was never designed as an accurate “on the move” system, this is probably because this is so well known in the Army and since this document was intended as an Army/DOD only document due to it’s classification, there wasn’t a need to state that. The inconsistency here was that the original Washington Post article that came to the conclusion that the RWS wasn’t working as designed, which was completely false. If the WP had done some minimal background research, they wouldn’t have made this mistake. For example, the following two websites were available on the first page of a Google search of “Stryker RWS stabilization”:

“RWS is not designed with stabilization system, however it has demonstrated the ability to suppress targets on the move.”

“It provides soldiers a means of engaging targets from a stationary position without direct exposure to hostile fire.”
“Another future upgrade could even involve the addition of shoot-on-the-move capabilities. The current design does not include a firing stabilization system. Although the system could be fired on the move, Stryker brigade members note that the resulting lack of pinpoint accuracy would likely preclude that operation in most scenarios.”
”While acknowledging that there is currently no requirement for such capabilities, program management representatives add that ‘the XM151 RWS was designed with this capability in mind. Should a requirement emerge, the RWS can be upgraded with this capability with few changes to the system.’”
“Product improvements were considered early in the design phase and many hooks are in place for future upgrades, such as stabilization, laser range finder, increased processing power, and auto scan, just to name a few."

While I couldn’t find a publish date for the Army flyer in the first link, since it only refers to MC02, my belief is that the flyer was released closely following the exercise in summer of 2002. The article in the second link was published in September 2003 in Army magazine. So, both sources were available at the time of the CALL report.

For those who weren’t familiar with the WP article, here is the excerpt that I am referring to (with my comments inserted in the parentheses):

“The main weapon system, a $157,000 grenade launcher, fails to hit targets when the vehicle is moving, contrary to its design (false), the report states. Its laser designator, zoom, sensors, stabilizer (it originally never had a laser designator or stabilizer and does have zoom for the day optical sight; the improved version will have a LRF, stabilization, and I believe a zoomable night sight) and rotating speed all need redesign; it does not work at night . . . (false – the thermal sight is good among thermal sights, the only issues were the lack of a zoom capability and adding an image intensifier capability to overcome weather effects [fog, rain] that affect the effectiveness of thermal systems)”

Instead, the CALL report was supporting upgrading the RWS so that it had stabilization to allow an accurate “shoot on the move” capability. If you read the CALL report on page xiii (page 15 on Adobe Acrobat Reader), you can see that as of the publication of the CALL report in December 2004, the Army was already developing this capability to be fielded from the start to SBCTs 5 and 6 and fielded to SBCTs 1-4 during the Block II upgrades.

4. DVE. A careful reading of the entire CALL report reveals this statement at the beginning:

"All observations and recommendations come directly from the leaders, Soldiers, and contractors interviewed. Since many of the observations were made at the battalion and below level, there may be some conflicting information or views, which allow the reader to better, assess the issue and visualize possible workarounds."

This caveat makes it clear to myself that the statements and conclusions in the report will often be contradicted depending on who you speak with. Competing statements should be expected, and the CALL report is not necessarily the “final say.” Instead, there are many issues that required further review beyond the scope and expertise of a 9 person team deployed for 4 weeks collecting data in the middle of a combat zone to determine the corrective action, if any were needed, and the above statements capture that.

I’m not sure where you got the 10 degree FOV from since I couldn’t find it in the December 5, 2003, CALL report. When I looked the specs up online (http://www.atlastelecom.ae/products.asp?cat=Thermal+Imagers&name=The+AN/VAS-5+DVE&id=84), I found that the FOV is 30 degrees vertical and 40 degrees horizontal. Additionally, the driver’s hatch is fitted with M17 periscopes that allow for a larger FOV (120 degrees) when driving during daylight or under headlights (which became 3/2 ID policy due to the high potential for accidents with Iraqi cars when driving under blackout conditions). One issue that existed with the headlights at night was splash back of the lights off the slat armor due to the location of the headlights – this reduced visibility through the periscopes; however, this issue was fixed once it was identified and is no longer an issue. Also, where are you getting the information on fatigue? It isn’t published in the December 5, 2003, CALL report.

5. C130 transportability. What were the specific responses? This context would be very important. There are several reasons I can come up with on why the C130 question wasn’t that important to the personnel that you spoke to:

a. Let’s first look at the perspective of Iraq, where the majority of soldiers/leaders that you have spoken with have spent time. Air transport within Iraq would take longer overall than ground movement. Time to prepare the vehicles for the joint inspection and the paperwork for air movement would take up the bulk of the time. For example, I would estimate that the movement time of 1-5 Infantry from Fallujah to Mosul in November 2004 probably took 6-8 hours from the time the first road march unit departed. The battalion probably withdrew from their assigned cordon positions once relieved and then moved to their FOB to load equipment that wasn’t mission essential for the movement back to Mosul. This could be accomplished in a matter of hours. Simultaneously, the battalion staff would confirm the route and disseminate it via FBCB2 to the entire task force within the same time period. The battalion is now ready to conduct the movement, with the potential of having to wait a few hours to give the vehicle crews a chance to rest for the movement. Now, compare that preparation to an air movement. Vehicles would have to be cleaned of excessive dirt, etc. Vehicles with minor leaks can’t fly (for example, a leak of only a single drop of oil shouldn’t pass the joint inspection (JI); however, this vehicle could drive hundreds of miles without a single issue – for a comparison, how many people drive cars that have drops of oil on the garage below where they are parked?). Also, paperwork must be completed by specially trained personnel on hazardous materials. All vehicles must pass through the JI, which includes a multiple point inspection, weighing the vehicle, ensuring loads are secured with specific straps that are certified by the Air Force, ensuring that fuel tanks are not above a specific level to prevent leaks due to expansion at altitude (without a specific defueling asset, this must be accomplished by running the vehicle). All of this takes a large amount of time if you are pulling out from combat operations to conduct the movement. So, it is not as simple as comparing the ground speed of a Stryker and the airspeed of a C130. Also, to fly 75 Strykers via C130, you’ll need 75 C130s to fly the Strykers plus additional C130s to fly slat armor or add on armor packages. Given maximum on ground (MOG) restrictions, I doubt that you’ll be able to fit 75+ C130s on the ground at once even if you’ll get 75 C130s immediately at your disposal. Also, to fly via C130, you need to remove the slat armor and then replace it once at your destination (FYI - with a M113 equipped IBCT, you would need to do the same preparations to include removing slat armor; also, I’m pretty sure that you would need to find a whole bunch of plywood for track shoring on the floor of the aircraft to prevent damage from the metal tracks). Bottomline, from the perspective of OIF operations, the comments are entirely correct, and movement via ground would be faster than air movement.

b. Airfields in both Iraq and Afghanistan can support C17 aircraft that are less time consuming to load and can transport a Stryker unit much quicker. We had airfields in both Afghanistan and Iraq from the start of both conflicts that could immediately support C17 operations (e.g. in Iraq, we flew in an armored task force into Bashur in the north; in Afghanistan, Camp Rhino supported C17 operations). So, C130 transport wasn’t even necessary. With C17 transport, there is no need to remove additional armor packages.

c. C130s will only fly intratheater missions. To get Strykers from CONUS to a contingency, you’ll need to get them to a nearby airfield that can range the target airfield. Thus, the Strykers will fly in C5s or more likely, C17s. If the target airfield can support C17s, why waste time by transloading to a different aircraft and adding additional steps to the process?

Hopefully, the above reasons give you a better perspective on the answers you received - this is not such a black and white issue. That being said, all fielded Stryker variants both fit into a C130 and fly in a C130. While current weight issues prevent the Stryker in meeting the 1000 nautical mile requirement via C130, the Army is still pursuing weight reduction improvements towards meeting the requirement. So, the capability of flying the Stryker in a C130 does provide a capability that can tie up an adversaries forces, but it is not the sole raison d’etre for the SBCTs, and hence the importance accorded to it by those whom you spoke with.

GI Joe

You POGO guys are quoting Emily Dickinson for a blog on Stryker? Is this a joke or an insult? You wimps stay behind your desks safe and sound and let the heavy lifting of defending our country to people who are not going to be quoting an old dead chick on defense matters. You need to hire someone with military experience on your staff. Right now your liberal bias is so bright you can't see.

"You want to act like you are for the troops, but you don't want to believe them."

The CALL report was written by troops and based on interviews with troops. Are you saying you don't believe them? POGO is being straightforward--they're receiving differing accounts from two different reputable sources.

And "Tell all the Truth but tell it...slat?" is a reference to a famous line by Emily Dickinson: "Tell all the truth but tell it slant."

POGO Denizen

"The Army leadership has said that the Stryker must be C-130 transportable so it can get to any battlefield very quickly. But brigade officers said that this Army doctrine is essentially irrelevant because the Stryker can travel at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, getting them to the action quicker by road than via C-130 transport."

So.....A Stryker platoon (60 mph) can road march to an objective quicker than being transported by a -130 (~350mph)?

Sounds like classic military spin. Reduce or marginalize mission critical performance criteria when the system fails to meet the spec.

I agree that the Stryker is useless as an Infantry vehicle, the guys don't like it and parts were a pain in the ass to get and tires a bitch to change and that is enough testimony for me, if they are hampered in their ability to inflict lethality quickly and repair/recover efficiently.

Yeah that's POGO for you. Notice every time they try to say something good about the troops they have to counter it with some spin that makes the guys on the ground look like they don't know what they are talking about. They sure do tell it slat. Whatever the f that means?

Who wrote this _ _ _ _? It seems you want it both ways and are trying to confuse us with words. Tell all the Truth but tell it slat? What is that? Maybe you spent to much time at the OC and not enough with the grunts. Are you trying to impress us with your ejumakation? Just say what you mean. You want to act like you are for the troops, but you don't want to believe them. You just want to act cool and cynical. Be real for once.

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