- The Air Force has a 50 year old weapon system that is
still a showpiece workhorse. Why? It fills a needed slot in their mission
statement. With new age electronics, more powerful engines and stealth
upgrades, the B-52 delivers payloads efficiently and dependably. Knowing
that effective use of available resources is a good thing, instead of replacing
an old, but efficient system with a modern expensive one, they upgrade
existing platforms continuing to meet 21st Century needs.
- So why is it that with shrinking budgets, and increased
competition for resources and missions, Army leaders can't take a chapter,
not just a page, from the Air Force? With a changing mission, the Army
should scour its inventory for existing equipment capable of meeting the
requirement. Instead they are creating a new weapons system that is outsized,
unproven and even fragile. In addition, this new system forces the Army
to create and train a completely new maintenance train with thousands of
items not currently available.
- Contemporary military leadership sees the Army Mission
for the next 20 years as peacekeeping or stabilization/support. With no
credible Major Theater War (MTW) threat, the Army is 'slimming-down' heavy
forces and equipment to meet this mission. Army Chief of Staff mandated
parameters for both the unit and equipment state that first response units
must be transportable, maneuverable and effective.
- Transportable means the light 'Strike Force' must arrive,
as close to the potential point of danger as possible, within 96 hours.
The ubiquitous C-130 (another upgraded 50+ years old airframe) is the mandated
transport. With more than 510 of the relatively inexpensive C-130s the
AF must deliver the strike force and its support elements within the required
- Maneuverable requires the 'Strike Force' to operate in
any condition around the world. This includes on/off roads in mountains,
rice paddies, cities and small towns. Recently the Army has deployed to
all of these. Yugoslavia had modern cities and paved roads, equivalent
to the US, side by side with some of the most difficult and hazardous mountains
anywhere in the world. Cities in Timor and the Philippines include paved
and dirt roads and primitive villages surrounded by rice paddies. Somalia
had a devastated urban infrastructure but hostile desert also. Narrow streets,
high buildings, wide swampy plains and triple canopy jungle, all are the
potential purview of the light strike force.
- Effective means controlled lethality coupled with soldier
protection. The strike force needs a combat platform, a fighting vehicle,
from which to operate in any environment. This vehicle must maneuver tight
corners, shoot at rooftops, and not crush poorly engineered streets and
sewerage systems. It must overcome roadblocks of street debris including
burned out cars and demolished buildings. It will face RPGs; heavy machine
guns and the most common street weapon of urban warfare the 'Molotov Cocktail.'
Shrugging off flaming gasoline, bullets and rocket projectiles, the IFV
troops must perform their assigned mission.
- If the US sends forces in harm's way, we have the moral
obligation to provide them with the most effective equipment and configuration
possible. Anything less would be a travesty to the unit deployed, and slap
in the face of mission planners. A mission designed and employed around
poor equipment is doomed to failure.
- Currently the Strike Force centerpiece is the LAVIII/IV
'Stryker' Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Unlike the B-52, it is a completely
new vehicle. Also unlike the B-52, it does not meet the standards set by
the Army Chief of Staff. The 21-24 ton armored car rides on eight air-filled
rubber tires elevated high above the road, driven through a complicated
and sensitive kluge of transmission drive shafts, steering and suspension.
- At $3 Million per LAV copy, The LAV does not even meet
the requirements of effectiveness, maneuverability and transportability.
It cannot fit into a C-130 without extensive temporary modifications that
must be reversed upon delivery for combat. The rubber wheels are vulnerable
to the simplest urban weapon: the Molotov Cocktail. Trapped in a narrow
street it cannot turn in its own length to escape. Crossing swampy plains,
its weight bogs it down, and it cannot swim so it is limited to bridge
crossings. Restricted to highways and roads, the LAV cannot support operations
away from a well- established infrastructure.
- Tracked vehicles were developed to take the place of
wheeled ones operating in difficult and hazardous conditions, yet the Army
is insisting on returning to wheels. The published reasons: speed, weight
and flexibility are all spurious. No wheeled combat vehicle today can keep
up with an M1A2 Tank operating with its governors off. No wheeled combat
vehicle can turn 180 degrees within its own length as any tracked vehicle
can. Tracked vehicles reduce ground pressure over the length of the vehicle
unlike wheeled vehicles that have a very narrow tire print on which to
place their weight. And the M113 is designed to swim, freeing it from being
road and bridge bound.
- The Army has 17,000 M113A3s that already meet the requirements
for the Strike Force vehicle. Known today as the 'Gavin,' the M113 weighs
in at 10.5-13 tons, well below the 24-ton weight of the Stryker. The Gavin
is the Army's equivalent of the rugged, dependable 'B-52.' Now in the A3
version, it has been re-tracked, up-engined, and modernized so it can go
in any terrain: jungle, mountain, desert and urban. Most importantly, it
can be loaded into a C-130 without any modifications, and offloaded at
the danger point ready-to-fight.
- Ask why the Army insisting on buying a vehicle that doesn't
meet its own standards. There has to be a reason other than operational
- We are fighting for the survival of world freedom;
- We are fighting for each other;
- Give us the tools to do the job.