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Not Problem-Divorced: Army (and language) take another hit
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ^ | April 7, 2005 | Editorial

Posted on 04/07/2005 11:22:17 AM PDT by quidnunc

The U.S. Army’s new high-speed, low-drag combat vehicle — called, dum-da-dum-dum! the Stryker! — is carrying troops all over Iraq. These government-issue vehicles are dodging improvised bombs. They’re taking the battle to the enemy. As a general named Patton once said, they’re making the other poor bastard die for his country. (Or at least making him die for that really, really rich guy shivering in a cave somewhere on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.)

The only problem is the Stryker! — dum-da-dum-dum! — doesn’t work. Not very well, anyway.

More than 300 of the lightweight vehicles are seeing duty in Iraq. At least when they’re not up on blocks.

A classified Army report dug up by the Washington Post says a shield bolted to the vehicle for this specific conflict is so heavy that troops have to change tires and wheel assemblies several times a day. The vehicle was meant to be light, but the shield adds so much weight that the Stryker’s parts wear out on the double.

Oh, and that shield that’s causing all the trouble? It only protects troops from about half the grenades and bombs the enemy is using.

And, by the way, a few other small problems have been noted:

Displays inside the vehicles are poorly designed and most don’t work. And when the displays are working, they’re working in black and white. Which doesn’t help when somebody sends word to look out for a certain color car … . The computers inside the Strykers are too slow. That’s when they’re working. A lot of times, they either freeze up or they die from the heat. … The main weapon, a grenade launcher, won’t hit targets … . But when that grenade launcher isn’t hitting those targets, it’s still dangerous. To the squad leader. The weapon can swing dangerously in his direction … . And when troops are in full body armor, which they ought to be out on patrol, the seat belts don’t work. Which has led to deaths when the things roll over.

Oy. Doesn’t the Pentagon test these things?

Why, ahem, yes. Yes we do, say the brass. And we’re working to fix the problems.

"We’re very proud of the Stryker team," said a lieutenant colonel whose title is so long that he really should be a full bird colonel, or maybe a general. But "it hasn’t been something that’s problem-divorced."

Problem-divorced? Is that a new military way to say something ain’t perfect? Why in the name of Webster’s can’t educators, mayors, and American military officers speak English? Can’t the Army find a straight-talking sergeant somewhere who can speak plain? (Well, maybe not too plain.)

Americans who send their sons and daughters to war don’t expect perfect — excuse us, problem-divorced — vehicles. They do expect those vehicles to be the best America can provide. And the Stryker! — dum-da-dum-dum! — isn’t the best. Not yet. Not when 17 soldiers in one particular Stryker brigade have been killed in action, and another five have died in rollovers. Not when just about every day Americans have to read about another four or five or six American soldiers killed by a roadside bomb. Not when the soldiers driving those vehicles tell Army investigators that the problems are only getting worse. Not when America can do better.

As George S. Patton must have said many a time, let’s send in the (expletive) tanks. But not before we dump the (expletive) engineers/designers/whoever was responsible for producing these (expletive) trucks. Maybe we could start by changing their (expletive) name.


TOPICS: Editorial; Government; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: iraq; miltech; sbct; stryker; stynker; transformation; wheeledarmor; wheelies

1 posted on 04/07/2005 11:22:18 AM PDT by quidnunc
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To: quidnunc

This is really childish. What other vehicles would this writer like us to be using? Overall, the Strykers have been popular with the troops, and effective. The 75th Ranger Regiment just requested Strykers for to use in Afghanistan -- maybe the writer would like to see that request denied.

Someone once said, "America is an odd country -- all her most brilliant military geniuses work as journalists."


2 posted on 04/07/2005 11:26:43 AM PDT by 68skylark
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To: quidnunc
...the Washington Post says a shield bolted to the vehicle for this specific conflict is so heavy that troops have to change tires and wheel assemblies several times a day.

They have to change wheel assemblies several times a day??? I smell BS.

3 posted on 04/07/2005 11:33:54 AM PDT by 68skylark
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To: quidnunc
Not when 17 soldiers in one particular Stryker brigade have been killed in action, and another five have died in rollovers.

This article is just plain silly. I'd take the author's point about the 5 killed in rollover accidents, but this might just be a consequence of the armored RPG cages that have made these Strykers top heavy. Probably worth the trade-off when you consider what an RPG can do to a single Stryker, Crew and mounted Infantry Squad if it were struck in the vitals by an RPG. As for the other 17 deaths the author is vague. 25 Cents says these guys were killed in foot patrols while their Strykers were performing overwatch. Hardly a vehicle defect.

4 posted on 04/07/2005 11:36:30 AM PDT by Tallguy
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To: quidnunc

I know a lot of people in Arkansas and they all fully matured to adulthood. Why on earth did this rag hire an adult with arrested development?


5 posted on 04/07/2005 11:38:33 AM PDT by armymarinemom (My sons freed Iraqi and Afghanistan Honor Roll students.)
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To: 68skylark
I beleive the report says they have to check tire pressure and adjust it several times a day - an annoying issue, but not even close to switching out tire and wheel assemblies.

Personally, I still favor the M-113 upgrade option, but the Stryker is far from a lemon or a deathtrap. I just like tracks.

6 posted on 04/07/2005 11:41:25 AM PDT by AzSteven
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To: 68skylark

Bradleys are proof against RPGs. They're slower than the Strykers, though.
They are heavily armored APCs or IFVs. The Stryker is a light armored vehicle, and really is being used in a threat area above its weight class. What we need is the yet unnamed Medium Armored Vehicle that's starting production now.


7 posted on 04/07/2005 11:43:31 AM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: AzSteven

The M113 is a coffin on treads. They keep trying to upgrade it, but it's stupidly easy to kill one. There is no way to make one RPG resistant.


8 posted on 04/07/2005 11:44:24 AM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: 68skylark
Best I can tell they could be using upgraded M113's. They are better than, much cheaper than and more available than the Stryker.
US officers requested the M113's stored in Kuwait be used in Iraq but for political reasons were refused. To many Generals careers are tied up in the Stryker program being a success.

http://www.geocities.com/equipmentshop/m113combat.htm

9 posted on 04/07/2005 11:46:09 AM PDT by protest1
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To: 68skylark
There was an article in the WaPo about 10 days ago about problems with the Strykers. The tires wear out quickly because they were designed for off-road use while the Strykers travel mostly on paved roads.

Consequently they have to change tires on several vehicles per unit (not several times on each vehicle) per day.

The seat belts are too short to buckle around crew members while they're wearing their body armour so some soldiers have been killed in rollovers.

The Strykers were a pet project of a former Army chief of staff so they evidently were not adequately debugged prior to being introduced into combat.

10 posted on 04/07/2005 11:47:55 AM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: AzSteven

I like tracks but for urban security, you can't beat a wheeled vehicle. The tracks will tear up asphalt and really make like difficult for everyone. Bradleys are expensive to make in numbers.

We could just buy a bunch of BRDMs from some cash poor former soviet country and use them instead. And grab some ZSUs 23/4 while we are at it. Put the Shilka in mode 5 (ground attack) and that'll get some terrorist attention.


11 posted on 04/07/2005 11:54:13 AM PDT by xusafflyer (Keep paying those taxes California. Mexico thanks you.)
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To: quidnunc

More info on the Stryker: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/iav.htm


12 posted on 04/07/2005 11:54:18 AM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: protest1

7.62x51 will go through an M113 the long way, Kevlar upgrades or no. The hull is *aluminum*.

Some were used in the major combat phase as support vehicles and personnel transport, but they have been retired from the field since they are useless for urban operations in this environment.


13 posted on 04/07/2005 11:57:11 AM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Spktyr
Plenty about uparmoured and upgraded an M113's at the following link.
Warning it's a long load, lots of pics.

http://www.geocities.com/equipmentshop/m113combat.htm

14 posted on 04/07/2005 11:59:17 AM PDT by protest1
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To: quidnunc

The problem with Stryker is NOT the Engineering: it was developed and built to specification. The problem is, the specification stank. You ask for crap, you get crap. Let's see. . .computers and electronics generate heat, but nobody thought to put cooling in place. . .when a likely battle venue was the Desert. Armor good only against bullets. . . and so the bad guys learn quickly to use RPGs and IEDs. . .

But Gen. Shinseki wanted Stryker, and wanted it fast. . .and so that's what he got. May it haunt him forever. . .


15 posted on 04/07/2005 11:59:41 AM PDT by Salgak ((don't mind me, the Orbital Mind Control Lasers are making me write this. . . . FNORD!!))
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To: protest1

"The web site you are trying to access has exceeded its allocated data transfer. Visit our help area for more information.

"Access to this site will be restored within an hour. Please try again later."

The uparmored M113's are still pathetic. A .50 will easily ventilate any of the uparmor variants, and they still have inadequate undercarriage protection. A hand grenade can kill one.


16 posted on 04/07/2005 12:02:37 PM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Spktyr
Here's the WaPo article:

Litany of Problems Reported with Army's Stryker Vehicle

The Army's Stryker troop transport vehicle has many defects, putting troops in Iraq at unexpected risk from rocket-propelled grenades and raising questions about the vehicle's development and $11 billion cost, according to a detailed critique in a classified Army study obtained by The Washington Post.

More than 300 of the lightly armored, wheeled vehicles have been ferrying U.S. soldiers around northern Iraq since October 2003. The Army has been ebullient about the vehicle's success there, with Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, telling the House Armed Services Committee last month that "we're absolutely enthusiastic about what the Stryker has done."

Two Stryker brigades are based at Fort Lewis.

But the Army's Dec. 21 report, drawn from confidential interviews with operators of the vehicle in Iraq in the last quarter of 2004, lists a catalog of complaints about the vehicle, including design flaws, inoperable gear and maintenance problems that are "getting worse, not better." Although many soldiers in the field say they like the vehicle, the Army document, titled "Initial Impressions Report — Operations in Mosul, Iraq," makes clear that the vehicle's military performance has fallen short.

The report states, for example, that an armoring shield installed on Stryker vehicles to protect against unanticipated attacks by Iraqi insurgents using low-tech weapons works against half the grenades used to assault it. The shield, installed at a base in Kuwait, is so heavy that tire pressure must be checked three times daily. Nine tires a day are changed after failing, the report says; the Army told The Post the current figure is actually "11 tire and wheel assemblies daily."

"The additional weight significantly impacts the handling and performance during the rainy season," says the report, which was prepared for the Center for Army Lessons Learned in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. "Mud appeared to cause strain on the engine, the drive shaft and the differentials," none of which was designed to carry the added armor.

Commanders' displays aboard the vehicles are poorly designed and do not work; none of the 100 display units in Iraq are being used because of "design and functionality shortfalls," the report states. The vehicle's computers are too slow and overheat in desert temperatures or freeze up at critical moments, such as "when large units are moving at high speeds simultaneously" and overwhelm its sensors.

The main weapon system, a $157,000 grenade launcher, fails to hit targets when the vehicle is moving, contrary to its design, the report states. Its laser designator, zoom, sensors, stabilizer and rotating speed all need redesign; it does not work at night; and its console display is in black and white, although "a typical warning is to watch for a certain color automobile," the report says. Some crews removed part of the launchers because they can swivel dangerously toward the squad leader's position.

-snip-

(R. Jeffrey Smith [The Washington Post] in The Seattle Times, March 31, 2005)
To Read This Article Click Here

It looks to me like the Army brass sent the Strykers to Iraq expecting them to operate in a much less intense and hostile environment than proved to be the case.

17 posted on 04/07/2005 12:07:08 PM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: quidnunc

I wholeheartedly agree with you. I'm sure that the Stryker will evolve to be a fine combat tool - but it's fighting threats well over its weight and it needs to be withdrawn. Bradleys with rubber pads on the treads would do better, albeit slower.


18 posted on 04/07/2005 12:11:30 PM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Spktyr

Here is a different link but not as much detail.

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m113.htm


19 posted on 04/07/2005 12:13:15 PM PDT by protest1
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To: Spktyr
One of the things the troops like about the Stryker is that it's much quiter than a tracked vehicle.

They do a lot of nighttime patrols raids and it's easier to sneak up on the bad guys when they don't make a clatter that can be heard a mile away.

20 posted on 04/07/2005 12:18:53 PM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: protest1

From your link:

"In 1984 a decision was made to incorporate the RISE package, improved driver controls, spall liners, external fuel tanks and provisions for installation of an external armor kit on an M113 chassis. Additionally, a bolt-on armor kit providing 14.5 mm ballistic protection was developed and tested. Except for the mounting provisions the external armor appliquÈ was not incorporated for production."

Sounds like I'm right - they never made the applique armor. It's still vulnerable to the .51 (Soviet equivalent of our .50).

"Crew survivability is increased by the addition of spall suppression liners and locating the fuel tanks externally, on the rear of the vehicle."

Want to bet they forgot to armor the tanks again? Fireball, anyone?

The M113 still throws tracks like an SOB, it still has no undercarriage armor of any significance, and it is significantly more vulnerable than a Stryker. The only advantage it has is that it's lighter and cheaper, that's all.



21 posted on 04/07/2005 12:19:35 PM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: Spktyr
Ummm... wrong, a kit was developed to protect up to 14.5mm. Refusing to put it into production does not mean it cannot be done. There is just no political will.

In 1984 a decision was made to incorporate the RISE package, improved driver controls, spall liners, external fuel tanks and provisions for installation of an external armor kit on an M113 chassis. Additionally, a bolt-on armor kit providing 14.5 mm ballistic protection was developed and tested. Except for the mounting provisions the external armor appliquÈ was not incorporated for production.

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/m113.htm

22 posted on 04/07/2005 12:25:14 PM PDT by protest1
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To: protest1

This is the same kit that was also developed for the Stryker, which was later found to be inadequate.


23 posted on 04/07/2005 12:26:23 PM PDT by Spktyr (Overwhelmingly superior firepower and the willingness to use it is the only proven peace solution.)
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To: quidnunc
The computers inside the Strykers are too slow..[and] they...freeze up...

They probably are infested with pop-up ads.

Fox Trot Alpha I have a target. Sniper in third story of building at corner. There he is...aiming...DANG, Pop Up Ad for weight loss pills!!...he's gone.

24 posted on 04/07/2005 12:30:55 PM PDT by Plutarch
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To: 68skylark

It seems the author has attended the Walter Cronkite school of Disinformation.

The MSM is trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


25 posted on 04/07/2005 12:33:12 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE!)
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To: longtermmemmory
It seems the author has attended the Walter Cronkite school of Disinformation.

Yeah, I remember when the M-1 tank was in development. (It was called the XM-1 at the time.) The press was apoplectic -- they said it was a death trap and every single person working on the project was a military moron. The NY Times was especially adamant about this.

It turns out it's the best tank the world have ever seen -- it's still being improved and upgraded today.

So who are the real morons?

26 posted on 04/07/2005 12:38:20 PM PDT by 68skylark
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To: quidnunc
I don't understand the virulent hostility to these vehicles (not necessarily by you, but by others here who aren't anti-military in general). They're good at what they do -- the troops like them from what I've read. And they are quickly getting better as a result of the real-world experience.

Most every weapon system can stand to be upgraded and improved -- especially the new ones like the Stryker. I'm glad the Stryker is getting its share of improvements.

27 posted on 04/07/2005 12:49:32 PM PDT by 68skylark
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To: 68skylark
68skylark wrote: I don't understand the virulent hostility to these vehicles (not necessarily by you, but by others here who aren't anti-military in general). They're good at what they do -- the troops like them from what I've read. And they are quickly getting better as a result of the real-world experience.

I'm not opposed to the Strykers at all, I just think they were rushed into production before they were sufficiently tested because they were a pet project of the head honcho.

They definitely have their place, but that place apparently isn't everywhere.

Apparently the next improved model of Stryker is due to begin entering service in 2007.

28 posted on 04/07/2005 1:01:58 PM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: quidnunc
But not before we dump the (expletive) engineers/designers/whoever was responsible for producing these (expletive) trucks. Maybe we could start by changing their (expletive) name.

Blame Clinton, his "Defense leadership" and former Army CoS Shinseki, the same guy who brought us the "Army of One" and it's black berets designed to make every soldier "elite".

29 posted on 04/07/2005 1:10:25 PM PDT by El Gato (Activist Judges can twist the Constitution into anything they want ... or so they think.)
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To: quidnunc
The Strykers were a pet project of a former Army chief of staff so they evidently were not adequately debugged prior to being introduced into combat

Oh, they were debugged alright. The outfit that conducted the tests got a citation for finding so much wrong with it. However they didn't find everything, and somethings couldn't really be fixed without throwing the whole thing out and starting over. The anti RPG bustle came from that effort.

30 posted on 04/07/2005 1:13:48 PM PDT by El Gato (Activist Judges can twist the Constitution into anything they want ... or so they think.)
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To: quidnunc
I know you weren't trying to cast a blanket condemnation on these vehicles. But I'm sorry to say that I'm still having a little trouble following your point.

The Rangers have requested some of these vehicles for Afghanistan. (The story is here.) Would you like to tell them, "No way -- we're still bebugging them"? Or would you like to meet their requests now while we also put improvements into place?

I wish we had more time to de-bug these before we went to war. But I don't think that means we should keep ourselves from using them now. If we wait until weapons are perfect, they won't get used at all.

(To me, the most compelling criticism I've heard of the Strykers is that they're perfect for peacekeeping but not tough enough for all-out combat against a stand-up adversary. If that's right, it means we're smart to use them in Iraq.)

31 posted on 04/07/2005 1:13:57 PM PDT by 68skylark
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To: 68skylark
68skylark wrote: I know you weren't trying to cast a blanket condemnation on these vehicles. But I'm sorry to say that I'm still having a little trouble following your point. The Rangers have requested some of these vehicles for Afghanistan. (The story is here.) Would you like to tell them, "No way -- we're still bebugging them"? Or would you like to meet their requests now while we also put improvements into place? I wish we had more time to de-bug these before we went to war. But I don't think that means we should keep ourselves from using them now. If we wait until weapons are perfect, they won't get used at all. (To me, the most compelling criticism I've heard of the Strykers is that they're perfect for peacekeeping but not tough enough for all-out combat against a stand-up adversary. If that's right, it means we're smart to use them in Iraq.)

I'm for giving the theatre commanders the tools they ask for insofar as that is possible.

But sometimes these weapons syatems get to be the center of empire building and are pushed without regard for their appropriatness in changed cirumstances.

The Crusader 155mm gun was a good example of this.

32 posted on 04/07/2005 1:25:05 PM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: quidnunc
Soldiers Defend Faulted Stryker
33 posted on 04/07/2005 3:31:33 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Drug prohibition laws help fund terrorism.)
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To: AzSteven
I beleive the report says they have to check tire pressure and adjust it several times a day - an annoying issue, but not even close to switching out tire and wheel assemblies.

Shouldn't be much of a chore if the Strykers' CTIS [Central Tire Inflation System] is working okay. There are concerns that the airlines to the wheel can be torn away in jungle or heavy brush, but that shouldn't be a problem in the sandbox...unless multiple flat tires requiring changeouts have resulted in the systems being unplugged. But CTIS has worked well on the Hummvee, armored and not, and has been around since the amphibious DUKW duece-and-a-half truck of WWII.

Personally, I still favor the M-113 upgrade option, but the Stryker is far from a lemon or a deathtrap. I just like tracks.

I too prefer the old M113 *bucket*. But the Stryker's remote-controlled .50 MG whose ammunition comes unlinked in the feed chutes to the gun is not a big improvement, and for shirtsleeve jihadis I expect a twin M240 would be an improvement, maybe even a twin 5.56mm M249 SAW.

The NCOs at Ft Knox I met who were offered a one-grade promotion to transfer to Stryker units weren't buying it, and I haven't either. But some of the vehicles' flaws could be cured if it was admitted they exist, and a few others by not trying to use the Stryker as a one-vehicle-does it all system.

With the RPG cages on the Stryker, only two can be carried aboard a C17. And the reason given for the cancellation of the Army Crusader 155 SP artillery piece was that only two would fit aboard a C17. THat sure makes it hard to use the Stryker as a reaction force vehicle that can be flown where needed in theater by C130....


34 posted on 04/07/2005 3:56:35 PM PDT by archy (The darkness will come. It will find you,and it will scare you like you've never been scared before.)
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To: 68skylark
What other vehicles would this writer like us to be using?

I can't speak for him. But M113s, The Marine LAV, [ with a 25mm Chain Gun and co-ax MG under armor, that work] the M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle [.50 AND 7,62mm MG, in a turret], Bradley Fighting Vehicles, even leftover Vietnam War/Panama M551 Sheridan *airborne recon vehicles* would be an improvement. Yeah, the 152mm gun of the Sheridan is obsolete now, but we're not worried about Iraqi tanks anymore, so stick a 25mm or .50 Gatling in its place, put it on a flatbed for convoy escorts or security details, and it'd likely do as well as it did for the 82nd Airborne in Panama.

Heck, even the ex-Soviet BTR-80 is an improvement. Its guns work, there are side doors for the crew to exit from, and firing ports so they can fight from inside.


35 posted on 04/07/2005 4:20:21 PM PDT by archy (The darkness will come. It will find you,and it will scare you like you've never been scared before.)
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To: 68skylark; Cannoneer No. 4
The 75th Ranger Regiment just requested Strykers for to use in Afghanistan -- maybe the writer would like to see that request denied.

They got 'em, 16 each. It's the rough country in which the Soviets ran their BTR-70s and -80s for a decade, so it ought to be an interesting realworld test of the vehicle's capabilities. But I suspect that the things will resemble porcupines with all the gunbarrels sticking out after the Rangers work them over.

36 posted on 04/07/2005 4:50:00 PM PDT by archy (The darkness will come. It will find you,and it will scare you like you've never been scared before.)
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To: xusafflyer
We could just buy a bunch of BRDMs from some cash poor former soviet country

What are the BRDMs?

37 posted on 04/07/2005 6:30:38 PM PDT by A. Pole (The Law of Comparative Advantage: "Americans should not have children and should not go to college")
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To: A. Pole

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/russia/brdm-2-pics.htm

About the cheapest armored recon vehicle around. We don't need computers and all that crap to kill these guys. Simple iron sites are fine (just look at that Kentucky units engagement)

They would often be teamed up with BMPs back in the Soviet days.


38 posted on 04/07/2005 7:32:50 PM PDT by xusafflyer (Keep paying those taxes California. Mexico thanks you.)
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