The Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) was the Army’s interim unit design to implement highly networked, highly mobile, lightly armored units. The Stryker itself was seen as an interim vehicle until the (now cancelled) Future Combat System family of vehicles were produced.
The SBCT organization was a carefully developed blend of infantry and supporting arms, and supporting services. A properly organized unit is more than the sum of its parts.
3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, is readying for a deployment to Afghanistan in December, and it will leave its fleet of roughly 300 eight-wheeled Strykers at home.
Instead, about 3,000 soldiers from the brigade will drive a mix of armored vehicles that are already in Afghanistan, such as the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) and its all-terrain variety, the M-ATV.
I can think of two reasons to leave the Strykers behind, and fall in on a fleet of MRAPs and M-ATVs already in theater.
First, the original flat-bottomed Stryker is quite vulnerable to mines and IEDs. New production double-vee hulled Strykers are addressing this problem, but there aren’t a lot in service yet. So perhaps 3rd BDE/2ID is looking to minimize its casualties from IEDs. Depending on where the brigade deploys in Afghanistan, IEDs may well be the greatest threat, and using the MRAP fleet would make sense.
The other possibility that occurs to me is less charitable to the motives of the Army. There’s a good deal of pressure to maximize resources, and minimize expenditures. Is it possible the Army is just trying to save the costs of shipping a brigade’s worth of Strykers half way around the world? Dunno…
At the rifle squad level, the impact of changing the vehicles shouldn’t be too bad. Drivers will be challenged to learn just how to drive the new (to them) vehicles. And there will be some reorganization on the fly, since MRAPs have different capacities than Strykers. Squad integrity may be slightly compromised.
When the Strykers were introduced, they were just about the only vehicles in the Army fleet using the Army’s networked battle management system. For the most part, the combat vehicle fleet has been equipped with the systems. Hopefully, that includes the MRAP/M-ATV fleet the 3rd BDE will use.
But at levels above the rifle squad, some issues could arise. At the company level, Stryker units are supposed to have organic fire support via Stryker MGS 105mm guns, and Stryker mounted mortar systems. At a minimum, these companies are going to have to do without the 105mm direct fires they’ve trained with. The mortar systems will probably be towed systems behind MRAPs.
The worst part of this is that the brigade went through its predeployment training on its Strkers, and not on MRAPs. They lost any chance to shake out any problems before hand. The chances of them having to relearn the hard way MRAP equipped units have already learned are pretty high.