Armor: August 7, 2003


One of the U.S. Army's new Stryker brigades are headed for Iraq this Fall and many are wondering how it will do there. It's good to remember that it's not the machine, it's the men, that make the difference. The Stryker brigades are pumped, for they know they are the new kid on the block and realize that they will be watched closely. So  they will probably do well, partly because of a modified organization that provides more snipers, mortars and recon troops for peacekeeping operations.  The only issue with Stryker is its vulnerability to RPGs. Without the additional armor that the M-2 Bradley's have, the the 19 ton, wheeled Stryker armored vehicles are as vulnerable as the marine AAVs. That said, the AAVs and Strykers do provide more protection than hummers, which is why almost all the RPG attacks since May have been on trucks. Iraq service will also provide more statistics on the advantages of the wheeled Stryker vehicles versus tracked ones like the M-113 and M-2. Iraq is a harsh environment for vehicles because of the heat and sand. It's not for nothing that the place is called the "sand box." However, in the end, Iraq is not a combat test for Stryker, but a peacekeeping one. And that's what Stryker was designed for. So there will be no embarrassing encounters with heavier mechanized units. But dealing with peacekeeping well depends more on imagination than weapons. This fact tends to get lost in all the speculation over what the Stryker vehicle can, or cannot, do. 


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