The Army may have more than its share of acquisition horror stories, but sometimes, it gets it right: Service officials last week celebrated a decade in service for the workhorse Stryker vehicle, which was developed and fielded in the blink of an eye compared to the time the service has needed for other programs — many of which never panned out. But as this week’s announcement makes clear, the Stryker story shows that when the Army has its act together, it can work quickly to field a vehicle it can both use and upgrade even as soldiers fight from it every day.
From the Army’s announcement:
“The Army needed a force that was versatile, flexible, digitally capable and networked. The force needed to be packaged on a platform that increased mobility and could be rapidly deployed. The end result of this vision was the Army’s Stryker Brigade Combat Team,” Maj. Gen. Robert Brown told an enthusiastic crowd. “This vision saved hundreds of my soldiers’ lives in combat,” Brown added, referring to his years as a Stryker Brigade Combat Team commander. Brown said the Stryker vehicles under his command withstood a full range of enemy attacks to include rockets, small arms fire and improvised explosive devices.
Stryker project manager Col. Robert Schumitz told the crowd that 10 years of continuous evolution and improvement within the Stryker program has resulted in the successful manifestation of the original vision for the vehicle: “In October 1999, a challenge was laid out to the Army which stated, ‘We must provide early-entry forces that can operate jointly without access to fixed forward bases, but we still need the power to slug it out and win decisively. Today, our heavy forces are too heavy and our light forces lack staying power,'” Schumitz said. “The Stryker Brigade, a dynamic, agile, lethal force structure, proved to be the solution to those mismatches.”
The Stryker has “27 million combat miles with operational readiness rates greater than 96 percent,” according to the Army, and it just fielded a new version with a double-V hull, which the brass says will give its occupants even greater protection from roadside bombs.