Armor: September 11, 2003


Although the U.S. Marines were quite pleased with the performance of their LAVs (wheeled armored vehicles) in Iraq, there is some doubt if the U.S. Army's new Stryker LAVs will do as well. The marines used their LAV battalions to move quickly to seize key objectives and provide rapid scouting and guarding of flanks. But the Stryker is over seven tons heavier than the marine LAV, and considered somewhat top heavy and more prone to breakdowns. There is also some concern about the way the Strykers are armored. For example, an area behind the wheel wells is unarmored, and vulnerable to bullets or shell fragments. The army is aware of these differences, and this may be one reason why they are eager to get at least one Stryker brigade to Iraq. There's nothing like a battlefield test to find out which problems are hypothetical and which are real. It's always been that way with new weapons, and this may be one reason why a Stryker brigade was not sent to Iraq for the heavy fighting. The current skirmishing with terrorists and irregulars will get far fewer Stryker troops killed if the dire predictions about Stryker performance turn out to be true. 


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