Stryker gets a bad report...

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Stryker gets a bad report...

Whoa! These vehicles have really fallen short. Some pretty bad design faults, ...




WASHINGTON -- The Army's most modern troop carrier, the Stryker, has failed to adequately protect soldiers from certain explosive devices and has demonstrated problems ranging from seat belts that don't fit around armored soldiers to tires that have to be replaced frequently, an internal Army report indicates.

The light armored vehicle, engineered in Sterling Heights by General Dynamics Land Systems and touted as the future of Army transportation, made its debut in Iraq over objections by some officials that it wasn't ready to be fielded.

Everything from the vehicle's communications technology overheating to the accuracy of its weapon systems were called into question in the report, published by the Center for Army Lessons Learned and made public Thursday by the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group.

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It has several flaws and some challenges, We were concerned that it wasn't tested well enough, it was kind of rushed through. When you send something like an armored vehicle into combat and it's not really tested, you kind of give soldiers a false sense of security. said Eric Miller, defense investigator at the oversight group.

The Army report was based on interviews this fall in Mosul, Iraq, with the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

A Pentagon spokesman defended the Stryker and said the report showed that the Army was willing to go in and retool after the development phase to make sure the vehicle works well in real-life situations.

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The reports we get from the field overwhelmingly is that the vehicle is performing in an outstanding manner. Soldiers say they appreciate the vehicle, they want to stay in that unit, they want to go back, and if they go back they want to go in that vehicle. You couldn't get a better stamp of approval or show of confidence. Lt. Col. Kevin Curry said.

Some of the issues in the Army report mirrored problems outlined by The Detroit News last July in a series of stories about military vehicle safety, which focused on inadequate safety features and poor driver training in the Army fleet.

The Stryker, previously known as the interim armored vehicle, is lighter than other troop carriers and reflects an Army shift toward a more mobile fleet. General Dynamics has delivered at least 1,000 Strykers to the Army, and more than 300 of them are now in Iraq.

During the vehicle's development stage, the armor on the Stryker was determined to be inadequate, so the Army had to develop a "bird cage" type assembly of armor slats that adds 3 feet to the vehicle's width, according to, a nonprofit group that analyzes defense policy.

Soldiers had been assured that the slat armor would protect them from eight out of 11 rocket-propelled grenade attacks, but the actual experience in Iraq was that soldiers were harmed in half of such attacks because the shrapnel was able to penetrate the slats. The armor also deflected only half of attacks by high-explosive anti-tank rockets, the report said.

Curry said he didn't have official statistics, but that the actual success rate of the armor was much higher.

He said only one rocket-propelled grenade had penetrated enough to make the vehicle inoperable, and that attack came from above the vehicle.

Aside from not providing the protection it was designed for, the added armor cage also makes the vehicle more difficult to operate in rainy conditions, to transport by plane, and to tow away when it gets stuck or breaks down, according to the report.

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Slat armor significantly increases the circumference and weight of the Stryker, changing its performance. Drivers did not receive any training on driving with slat armor until it was installed in theater.

The Stryker initially was touted as easy to maintain in part because it had tires that could be inflated and deflated with a control inside the vehicle, but having the extra armor cage forces the soldiers to do it manually because extra pressure is needed in them.

Crews have to check the tire pressure at least three times a day to maintain the proper pressure levels.

The single-ply sidewall tires were designed primarily for off-road use, but the Strykers are primarily being driven on hard pavement, leading to the brigade replacing about nine tires a day.

At least 24 crashes involving Strykers have been documented by the Army Safety Center.

In two rollovers, three unbelted soldiers died. Their deaths didn't prompt more seat belt use because the troops couldn't latch them when they were wearing their body armor and other gear, the internal Army report concluded.

In a separate report by the Army Safety Center, accident investigator Sgt. 1st Class John Temple said he was investigating a Stryker rollover that killed two unbelted soldiers and the brigade's soldiers told him he didn't have to wear his seat belt on the way to the accident site.

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I couldn't believe what I was hearing. There we were, driving to the site where two soldiers died because they weren't wearing their seat belts, and someone told me I didn't need mine. he wrote in March for the Army's monthly safety magazine, Countermeasure.

Other findings of the Center for Army Lessons Learned report include:

  • A driver vision enhancement tool is too small and obscured by the steering wheel.
  • New soldiers are being assigned to drive the Stryker in the theater with all training occurring during on-the-job missions.
  • Weapons can't shoot accurately when the vehicle is moving, and training doesn't include shooting while on the move.
  • In one model, known as the Stryker Reconnaissance Vehicle, the vehicle commander doesn't have a weapon station and must stand on a step that is so high it leaves him vulnerable to attack.

    Even the Stryker's horn has proven inadequate in traffic situations. The Army report suggested soldiers in Iraq replace it with a louder one purchased locally, and to help clear traffic, it recommended "throwing rocks at cars that don't get out of the way and use of local hand signals to show `slow down.'"

    Curry said the comments show that these kinds of internal Army reports are "not sanitized."

    "It pretty much captures anything and everything you can think about," he said. "I can assure you everything is being addressed and has been addressed."
  • By netchicken: posted on 9-4-2005

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