Academic journal article Military Review

The American Motor-Rifle Brigade: Issues with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team Concept

Academic journal article Military Review

The American Motor-Rifle Brigade: Issues with the Stryker Brigade Combat Team Concept

Article excerpt

Recent and proposed developments to the Stryker combat vehicle and how it is employed bear striking similarities to Soviet and later Russian development of the Bronetransporter (BTR) armored personnel carrier and motor-rifle formations. These similarities mirror both materiel and doctrinal concepts developed by the Soviets as they introduced, modified, and updated the BTR. However, the current Stryker developmental path is following an outdated methodology that is inappropriate for the modern battlefield. This article identifies the regressive approaches currently being used by the U.S. Army to develop the Stryker medium-force concept and recommends new directions for its development based on historical analysis and current scholarly research.

Materiel Comparison of the Stryker Platform and the Russian BTR Series

The Stryker concept has been in a constant state of flux since its inception. This is to be expected since it is a relatively new concept in the Army. Originally proposed by Gen. Erik Shinseki in the 1990s, the Stryker does not have the same depth and breadth of historical experience for the purpose of assessment compared to many other U.S. weapon systems due for materiel upgrades.1 For example, the development of the M1 Abrams tank commenced with the XM (experimental model) in the 1970s. It was fielded in 1979 and continues in service today, a long period over which data have been collected, including from its use in combat situations.

The medium vehicle and force concept is not new worldwide. The Soviet Union fielded a medium-armored vehicle in the BTR and began to develop the motor-rifle regiment concept circa 1961.2 The Soviet concept is distinctly different from World War II-era medium-armored vehicles. Some World War II-era armored vehicles and mobile guns can be said to be medium platforms, but these vehicles were always task-organized with heavier platforms. In contrast, the Soviet motor-rifle regiment was the first mechanized force organized to take advantage of the unique abilities that are afforded unilaterally by a medium force. Though the motor-rifle regiment may be involved in operations with heavy armored forces, it is considered distinct and separate from those forces. Similarly, the Stryker concept resembles the motor-rifle concept in that it is conceived as a stand-alone medium force. However, it differs from the Russian concept in some key areas.

While some changes to the original concept of the Stryker are expected and necessary, such as the ongoing Stryker upgrade to a double V-hull (a survivability design that deflects blasts from below a vehicle away from the crew compartment), some of these adoptions appear to be ad hoc and piecemeal.3 Following the current Stryker upgrade to the Stryker Double V-Hull, General Dynamics has proposed several improvements for the next generation of Stryker, including the addition of a 30 mm cannon for some vehicles to increase the Stryker's direct-fire capability.4

Of note, this addition mirrors earlier Soviet-era development of medium-armored vehicles. The Soviet Union identified a similar weakness in the armament of its BTR in the 1960s. The BTR was originally fielded with the 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine gun, which is comparable to the current Stryker's armament of the M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun. The Soviets replaced it with a heavier 14.5 mm cannon in later productions of the BTR 60.5 Still later, during its modernization program, Russia adopted the even heavier 30 mm Shipunov cannon for the BTR-90 to give it greater direct-fire capabilities.6 Additionally, Russia also added the 30 mm cannon to the BTR-80 series with the fielding of the BTR-82A. Notably, this gave the BTR offensive direct-fire capability similar to the Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty (2BMP) infantry fighting vehicle, which mounts the same cannon.7 This is comparable to the current proposed change to the Stryker main gun, which would give the Stryker direct-fire capability akin to the M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. …

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