Monday, May 14, 2007


Questions raised on vulnerability of Strykers

(AP) - A string of heavy losses from powerful roadside bombs has raised new questions about the vulnerability of the Stryker, the Army's troop-carrying vehicle hailed by supporters as the key to a leaner, more mobile force.
Since the Strykers went into action in violent Diyala province north of Baghdad two months ago, losses of the vehicles have been rising steadily, U.S. officials said.
A single infantry company in Diyala lost five Strykers this month in less than a week, according to soldiers familiar with the losses, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release the information. The overall number of Strykers lost recently is classified. In one of the biggest hits, six American soldiers and a journalist were killed when a huge bomb exploded beneath their Stryker on May 6. It was the biggest one-day loss for the battalion in more than two years.
"We went for several months with no losses and were very proud of that," a senior Army official said in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to comment publicly. "Since then, there have been quite a few Stryker losses. They are learning how to defeat them," the Army official said of Iraqi insurgents.
The military introduced the eight-wheeled Stryker in 1999 as the cornerstone of a ground force of the future - hoping to create faster, more agile armored units than tank-equipped units, but with more firepower and protection than light-infantry units. The Army has ordered nearly 2,900 vehicles for its $13 billion Stryker program.
The Army and Marine Corps already are pushing for new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPS, whose V-shaped hulls are designed to deflect bomb blasts outward, rather than through the vehicle. The Pentagon has requested nearly 7,800 of the new vehicles at a cost of $8.4 billion and is considering ordering thousands more to give soldiers better protection.

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