The Stryker Fighting Vehicles were billed as the wave of the future in land warfare when they started coming off the General Dynamics assembly lines in the early 2000s, but then Iraq, Afghanistan and sequestration happened.
The improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan took a toll on the flat-bottom, eight-wheeled vehicles, forcing the Army to go to a “double V-Hull (DVH)” refit to mitigate the devastating effects of the roadside bombs.
In 2009, the toll was heaviest on the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. In its year-long deployment, the 5th Stryker Brigade suffered 37 killed and 238 wounded.
The Army had hopes of putting DVH refits on all vehicles in its eight active-duty and one National Guard Stryker brigades, but that plan has been on hold since the cost-cutting Congressional sequester process went into effect last year.
Currently, the Army has funding to refit two Stryker brigades and hopes to complete DVH refits on a third brigade in 2016.
“This is purely a money issue” that has slowed the transition to double V-hulls, said Dan Goure, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute. “This is a great vehicle that has proven itself repeatedly. If the Army had the money, there’s no question about it, they’d do all nine brigades,” Goure said.
The versatility and deployability of the Stykers will be a featured topic at an Institute of Land Warfare forum next week at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2014 Meeting and Exposition at the Walter E. Washington convention center in Washington, D.C.
In recent months, Strykers have deployed to widely-separated regions, from Lithuania in eastern Europe to the eastern end of the island of Java in Indonesia.
Army Col. Louis A. Zeisman, commander of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, will participate in the AUSA forum via Skype from Java to promote the Strykers’ role in the “Pacific Pathways” concept having Army units essentially forward-based in the region on rotational joint training exercises.
About 800 troops from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and their 20-ton vehicles were currently in Java for Operation Garuda with Indonesian forces. Last month the 2nd SBCT was in Malaysia for Keris Strike training exercises and later this month they will be in Japan for exercise Orient Shield.