Download PDF The Stryker Brigade Combat Team: Rethinking Strategic Responsiveness and Assessing Deployment Options

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Zackery Spear October 5, Where function does not change form does not change. Proponents of the widespread addition of a millimeter gun to the Stryker platform are very close to seeing their dream realized.

Almost as soon as the upgrade was announced, a debate emerged between supporters and opponents of an up-gunned Stryker variant. Now, even as this new variant has been fielded to US forces in Europe, and while there may be some utility in the implementation of a more lethal weapon system attached to Stryker formations, the wholesale adoption of the millimeter as a magic pill to improve lethality and deter aggression is a tactical solution to a strategic problem. In this argument, either a lone Stryker brigade combat team SBCT is matched against the armored hordes of Russia and thus requires millimeter cannons to even the odds, or the SBCT is partnered with one or multiple armored brigade combat teams in a combined-arms attack that faces a combined armored and motorized threat.

Based on this analysis, the likelihood of employing the ICVD and its millimeter cannon against the very threat that it is being fielded to meet seems unlikely at best. It would require a strategic restructuring of the placement of ABCTs throughout the Army at a minimum, something that will require much more thought, and a significant deal of time. The first is in the Pacific region, specifically against North Korea, another major threat identified in the Army Operating Concept. In fact, for that environment, plans should not rely on any mounted platforms. The terrain of the Pacific littoral, and Korea in particular, is inhospitable to armored and motorized formations.

Instead, light infantry are proven to dominate its dynamic and complex terrain. The second environment centers around a hybrid threat focused in the Middle East. The Army Operating Concept anticipates hybrid threats in the future. Supporting this is a paper written by Maj. Michael Kim for the Institute of Land Warfare.

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In it, Kim examines the experience of Israel Defense Forces fighting against the hybrid threat posed by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in His findings conclude that the increased threat from hybrid forces armed with current-generation anti-tank weapons and evolved tactics in and around urban environments is best countered by the use of light infantry with support from heavy tanks armed with active protection systems. Kim stresses that a top priority for the Army should instead be the adoption of an active armor protection system for all its mounted platforms.

The Army Operating Concept states:. The Army, as part of joint, interorganizational, and multinational teams, protects the homeland and engages regionally to prevent conflict, shape security environments, and create multiple options for responding to and resolving crises.

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When called upon, globally responsive combined arms teams maneuver from multiple locations and domains to present multiple dilemmas to the enemy, limit enemy options, avoid enemy strengths, and attack enemy weaknesses. A bigger weapon for the Stryker family is not the solution to the conflicts of the future against any of the major threats outlined by our senior Army leaders.

If anything, the mass implementation of the millimeter ICVD will take away from the focus required to make the squad carried by the Stryker the center of attention for training. Time, or the lack thereof, is the most finite resource of the Army today. The tempo of operations, combined with the administrative and non—readiness-building requirements of the typical SBCT, means that executing the gunnery required to effectively and safely employ the ICVD will take away from the focused training required to prepare lethal infantrymen.

This is not a failure to give our company and battalion commanders their due credit, but an honest assessment of reality. It should stick with this upgrade rather than the ICVD. This system should achieve the function of providing enhanced lethality against armor threats throughout the SBCT formation. By being integrated into an infantry support platoon, rather than taking the place of Stryker vehicles in Stryker companies, commanders can augment forces based on mission requirements and diverge and combine training when gates align, similar to the integration of the mobile gun system.

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This provides a greater level of interoperability with parts and ammunition. However, in order to handle its load, the ICVD requires a different engine, different suspension, different tires, and a different alternator, and it even adds an in-vehicle network. Essentially, it is a completely different vehicle in a cut-up Stryker frame, which will require the development of new mechanics courses and completely different parts ordering.

Thus, the training curve and logistical requirements for sustaining it would be less or simply equal to the ICVD, and it already exists. Finally, if the ICVD truly fulfills an urgent and necessary function, its basis of issue and personnel requirements need to be fully understood and articulated before its implementation into the broader Stryker force.

While its function in a permanent role as part of a Stryker infantry company is questionable, there is a very real need to enhance or replace the reconnaissance vehicle in the Stryker formation. This would be the most likely way for an independent engagement between Strykers and enemy armor to take place as a chance meeting engagement, and is perhaps the best argument for a lethality upgrade to the platform, though limited to the reconnaissance element. In conclusion, the Army is considering the adoption of the millimeter ICVD based on a false understanding of its function in current Stryker doctrine and future warfare.

The European theater, which initiated the request, is not at risk of a large scale armor battle. The adoption of the millimeter gun also needs to be considered in the context of other conflicts and operating environments. It does not have a place in the Pacific, a major theater of operations dominated by complex terrain that demands dismounted infantry.

And against hybrid threats, armed with modern ATGMs, heavier vehicles like the M1 Abrams are needed along with active protection systems.

There is a place for a lethality upgrade to the Stryker, but it rests with the CROWS-J for most of the Stryker infantry companies, with consideration for a larger gun given to reconnaissance forces that are required to fight for information. Regardless, it is clear that the tactical solution of a millimeter cannon is not a magic pill. The conflicts of the future will be won through the complex integration of multilateral, combined arms, joint services, and enablers across multiple domains, to seize the initiative and attack and defeat the enemy at a time and place he least expects.

Zack Spear is an infantry officer and acting rifle company commander in a Stryker brigade combat team with a bachelor of science in Russian. John Onuoha, US Army. The author makes a valid point about using the 25 mm cannon system already in service, unless there is a move to scrape the 25 mm and replace it with 30 mm systems. The sports analogy "It's the player and not the glove" doesn't apply in this scenario…in combat it's both.

There is no denying the fact the US has a manpower crisis and the number and quality of future soldiers is in serious jeopardy. The Army needs to rethink tactics and strategies towards more remotely operated defense systems to defeat enemy armor, mechanized and even artillery. That is, unless the grunts want to deploy in the middle of a massed-armor battle…. The same thing the Russians did to the German army, chasing them back out of their home country… See "Kursk, Battle of…".

Well heck, you just solved our entire national defense budget.


Apparently we no longer need an Army. This genius just figured out what several hundred thousand experienced professionals could not. Apparently, in spite of all the evidence, the Russians are really good guys, and the US is the mean aggressors. Let me guess, you specialize in investment guidance?

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I can just see your next e-mail to clients. Cupcake "is an infantry officer and acting rifle company commander in a Stryker brigade combat team with a bachelor of science in Russian.


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