|Transcript of "Stryker Facts" Media Roundtable (Part 1)|
Transcript of "Stryker Facts" Media Roundtable (Part 1)
Source: U.S. Army News release: Army Public Affairs, Washington D.C., October 15, 2002. Room 1E462, The Pentagon, 3:30 p.m. EDT.
Army and Air Force participants:
- Lt. General James C. Riley, Commanding General, U.S. Army, Combined Arms Center and Director, Army Transformation Experiment 2002 (ATEX 02, the Army's portion of Millennium Challenge 2002),
- Colonel Tom Begines, Chief, Media Relations Division, Army Public Affairs,
- Colonel Charles Betack, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine, Command (TRADOC) System Manager for Stryker and Bradley,
- Colonel Michael Rounds, Commander, 3rd Brigade (Stryker), 2nd Infantry Division, Ft. Lewis, Wash.,
- Colonel Jimmie Simmons, U.S. Air Force, Chief, Aircrew Standardization & Evaluation, Air Mobility Command (expert on air movement of vehicles, including Strykers, by USAF aircraft),
- Lt. Colonel Rob Choppa, Commander, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry (Stryker) (commanded Stryker battalion during ATEX 02/MC 02),
- Lt. Colonel Dion King, Department of the Army System Coordinator (DASC) Stryker,
- Cpt. Erin Bazin, 2nd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Ft. Irwin (OPFOR) (Opposing Force company commander who fought against Stryker units during ATEX 02/MC 02),
- Cpt. Brandon Tegtmeier, Commander, Company A, 5th Battalion 20th Infantry (Stryker) (one of Lt. Colonel Choppa's company commanders; commanded a Stryker unit during ATEX 02/MC 02).
Colonel Begines: Good afternoon. I'm Colonel Tom Begines, Chief, Media Relations Division, Army Public Affairs. Welcome to the roundtable. Let me introduce the participants.
General Riley is the commanding general at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and was the Director for the Army Transformation Experiment, the Army's portion of Millennium Challenge 2002 and he is hosting this roundtable to talk about Stryker Brigade Combat Teams and Strykers. We've got a whole bunch of subject matter experts in the room. Frankly, we've gone to quite a bit of trouble to bring all these people into one room because hopefully we have the people here who can answer all of your questions about S-B-C-Ts and Strykers. I'd ask that they just kind of signal who they are.
We've got Colonel Michael Rounds, Commander, 3rd Brigade (Stryker) from Fort Lewis. . . Colonel Charles Betack who is the TRADOC System Manager for Stryker. . . Air Force Colonel Jimmy Simmons who is Chief, Air Crew Standardization and Evaluation for Air Mobility Command and he knows all about airlift, waivers, C-130s, all that sort of stuff. . . We've got Lieutenant Colonel Dion King who is the Department of the Army System Coordinator, the DASC, for Stryker. . . We've got Lieutenant Colonel Rob Choppa who commanded a Stryker battalion during ATEX '02 Millennium Challenge. . . and one of his company commanders who fought those engagements, Captain Brandon Tegtmeier. . . and we have Captain Erin Bazin who fought against the Strykers. He is opposing force, OPFOR, the enemy. So he can tell you from the other side of the fence what it's like.
This session is on the record. We've got some press kits to help you out with fact sheets on Stryker and some literature about the statistics and everything else.
You are all invited to the Air Deployability Demonstration tomorrow at Andrews Air Force Base. So that's Part Two of this information effort, and I think the visual media will attend that as well. They're going to do air loads on C-130 and C-17 aircraft, with Strykers coming off and Strykers going on, reconfiguring for operations, and you can see with your very own eyes how long it takes and what they need to do.
With that, for tomorrow, I would ask -- We've got a bus arranged because of the need for security. There will be a bus departing the Pentagon North Parking Lot at 8:15. It will take you to exactly where you need to go, which is on the other side of the airfield, out of the way, so if Air Force One leaves there's no problem, and we'll take you right back. So it's point to point and through the security.
Even if it's raining we're going, so I hope you'll come or it won't be covered. You'll be inside a hangar. You will be out of the rain.
With that, sir, I believe you have an opening statement and then we'll get right to the questions.
General Riley: I'm Jim Riley. I live in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. I've got a visitor's badge and get to leave here at the end of the day. I'm delighted to have an opportunity to spend a few minutes with you talking about the Stryker. I hope you'll bear with me while I read some prepared remarks. What we really want to do is get into a discussion/dialogue, and answer your questions.
On behalf of the Army, let me again say we're glad to have this opportunity to speak with you about the Stryker and the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.
Many of you have seen a great deal of information about the Stryker in the last several months. In fact many of you have seen a great deal of misinformation about the Stryker. Today we want to provide the facts.
We have several subject matter experts in the room. They're not insiders, they're not Pentagon folks. They're people who live and work with the Stryker day in and day out and they've been doing that for months.
- But let me start with a few overall comments.
The Stryker system is an integral part of a larger Army unit capability. Army light forces, the best in the world, can get there quickly, but once they get there they lack the lethality, mobility and staying power that's required to assure decision. On the other hand, Army mechanized forces with unmatched lethality, mobility and staying power take a long time to get there and as you know there's a shortage of strategic lift required to move those heavy forces.
In short, the Army's responsibility to satisfy 21st century requirements for effective strategic responsiveness demands rapid deployment with highly integrated combined arms formations, exploiting the power of information and human potential to allow us to engage the enemy and our targets and combining the advantages of both light and mechanized forces across the full range of military operations.
So meeting this requirement and providing combatant commanders and joint task force commanders with an important new option for contingency response is the central wartime objective of the Army's decision to develop Stryker and to field the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. This decision also supports the operational goals of DoD Transformation.
These units will provide us a significantly enhanced capability to our current light and mechanized forces so there is a bridging element until science and technology allow the Army to fully achieve and field Objective Force capabilities. SBCTs also serve as an agent of change, driving new concepts and doctrine, providing training for future leaders of the Objective Force, and leveraging state of the art technologies to manage information and achieve information superiority.
As some of you may have heard me say, we were very pleased with the Stryker's overall performance during Millennium Challenge '02. One of the most exciting aspects of the Stryker program is the speed at which this program has been building. Just 18 months prior to Millennium Challenge the ability to execute a forced entry followed immediately by a mounted early entry force was nothing more than an idea. Three months prior to Millennium Challenge the Strykers to be used had not yet been built. So only four weeks after completing new equipment training with the first Strykers, the Army deployed a company of Strykers from Fort Lewis via strategic airlift, C-17s, to a intermediate staging base where they were transloaded onto C-130s and airlifted directly into a dirt airfield in the middle of the National Training Center. They then redeployed via C-130 from the dirt airfield to SCLA, a Southern California logistics airfield where we did a joint interoperability exercise with the U.S. Marine Corps prior to redeploying by High Speed Vessel to Fort Lewis.
So during the experiment we met the objectives we set out to accomplish. Not everything was perfect, but we didn't expect it to be. We're continuing to analyze the data from the results and incorporating those lessons into our training doctrine and leader development.
The many organizations involved in gathering this information about the Stryker during MC '02 looked at how the Stryker performed in terms of its operational requirements, especially in the areas of deployability, mobility, lethality, interoperability, sustainability and soldier support.
Let me talk for just a minute about some of these key areas. C-130 deployability. We have with us an Air Force subject matter expert. He can go into the details and will be delighted to, but many of you saw during Millennium Challenge the Stryker fit into the C-130. It deployed, it fought shortly after arrival. We'll also show you this again tomorrow at the demonstration at Andrews Air Force Base.
The Air Force continues to work aggressively with us to ensure we can deploy the Stryker in the most efficient and effective manner and we're working closely with them as well.
In terms of mobility, the Stryker was extremely mobile. We have a National Training Center OPFOR [Opposing Force] soldier with us who will tell you about that and how they had to change their tactics because of the Stryker's ability to move quickly and quietly over terrain previously thought unsuitable for all but dismounted soldiers.
The Stryker is a good weapons platform for the Mark 19 [grenade launcher] and M2 [heavy] machine gun. It provides considerable firepower both day and night and the Stryker also provides protection for the gunner.
The operational readiness [rate] of the Stryker during Millennium Challenge was 98 percent and all 16 systems were available for every mission.
Soldier support was also remarkable. Despite what you may have heard, Strykers are actually more spacious than any troop-carrying combat vehicle in the U.S. Army inventory today. It provides a smooth ride that allows troops to arrive fresher at the point of dismount. The use of FBCB2 (Force XXI Battle Command Brigade & Below) and FM [frequency modulated] voice systems enhances the capability of company commanders, company XOs [executive officer], platoon leaders and platoon sergeants to gain and maintain situational understanding in and out of contact. The soldiers in the SBCT have proclaimed the Stryker as "a keeper." An FBCB2 is a computer that talks between vehicles and provides information systems, and helps the leader to be situationally oriented. He can see himself, can see the terrain, and can see the enemy as he communicates back and forth.
These are just a few of the highlights about the Stryker. We want to hear your questions and provide factual answers to the best of our ability.
Before we start with a question let me just add that during Millennium Challenge any successes we had were the result of the hard work and dedication of the great soldiers and their leaders, some of whom are here with us today.
With that, back to you.
Colonel Begines: Who wants the first question? Tom?
Question: General, there have been some reports over the last several days that DoD's thinking of cutting back the number of Stryker brigades from six to three. I'm just wondering what affect you think that would have on Transformation as a whole and also on the operational capability for the Stryker brigades.
General Riley: I'm so surprised that you asked that question! [Laughter] We'll probably hear it again in other forms, and that's fine.
First of all, I have not seen any such proposal. You'll need to address those issues with the Department of Defense. And I really personally don't know if such a proposal exists.
What I can say is that the Army has terminated or reduced some 48 systems in the '04 through '09 POM to jumpstart Transformation and ensure full funding for six Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. That's how important the Army considers the fielding of these six brigades as the minimal essential requirement.
Let me add to that just a little bit. First and most importantly, the number of Stryker brigades that the Army has chosen to fund is based on operational requirements. This logic is being challenged from a programmatic point of view, not an operational perspective. The Army needs the Stryker brigade capability to possess a global response capability. Only by fielding six SBCTs [Stryker Brigade Combat Teams] can the Army fulfill its responsibilities under the new Defense Planning Guidance (DPG).
The DPG contains four requirements, as you all know.
- First, defending the homeland;
- Second, deploying forward in four critical regions;
- Third, when called upon swiftly defeat enemy offensive operations in two simultaneous or nearly simultaneous conflicts; and then
- Finally, decisively defeating any enemy force.
Six SBCTs provide the strategic responsiveness and necessary combat power to contribute to the swift defeat or the ability to win decisively when we're called on to do so.
Additionally, unlike other Army organizations, the SBCT formations are well equipped to master the transition between stability and support operations, small-scale contingencies, and major combat operations. The reductions, any reduction of the SBCT quantity below the threshold level of six, would limit the Army's capability to rapidly respond to multiple regions as called for in the DPG.
It would also limit our ability to sustain operations over a period of time.
Question: What about Transformation as a whole? Do you have any sense what affect that would have on it? Would it delay transformation a year or two, three? Anything? Is that --
General Riley: I think that bears commenting on.
I mentioned in my initial remarks that the SBCT provides us an opportunity to begin growing leaders for the Objective Force. Some of the elements of the Objective Force battlefield are embedded in the SBCT organization. Information, knowledge, and information technology in the very much more rapid decision making environment [inaudible] lead us into a whole new construct of leader development from second lieutenant to senior leader, brigade commanders kinds of folks. New skills are going to be necessary. We saw a lot of that during Millennium Challenge. We had very rapid decision making from the JTF [joint task force] commander on down. It's formations like this that allow us to begin the transformational leader development.
Question: General, or Colonel Simmons. [inaudible]. Talk a little bit about the significance of the waiver required to move the vehicle on a C-130. How timely [inaudible] from an operational standpoint on a routine basis for 130 operations. Address that general point.
Colonel Simmons, USAF: First of all, it's not very significant. We've begun training programs already to reduce the impact of the new size variance inside the cargo department of the C-130. The personnel on board conducted some drills last night. In fact, 15 individuals were on-board [a C-130 aircraft] with the Stryker on it. It took them 48 seconds to get off using the emergency escape hatch on board. Our target is 90 seconds.
The waiver process we use in the Air Force is essentially to raise awareness that we're doing something a little bit different than the way we normally do. The regulations, in the last 46 years or so, the C-130s have been deployed in a lot of arenas [inaudible]. In fact we have 153, give or take, different types of vehicles that have permanent waivers in effect so we can carry them on the C-130 for various reasons -- size, weight, whatever. It appears the Stryker will join that family of vehicles.
Essentially the regulations are based on the 46-year history of employing the C-130. We now have an opportunity to go in different places and do different things with the Stryker on board, and so we have visibility at the upper levels and as we go through this process of learning what to do and what to pay attention to, we'll use waivers. Even today we're working on an MOA [Memorandum of Agreement] with the Army, between the Air Force and the Army that will identify some areas that are new and unique [inaudible] so that we can take it out of the waiver world and put it into the routine operations world, so we know exactly what sort of mission is going to take place when we have the Stryker on board, have the infantry on board, what the weight will be for the aircraft, make the pilot aware of what he needs to be thinking about to fly the aircraft in the new configuration.
So that is definitely not an obstacle to success.
Question: How rare is to get one of these waivers for the C-130?
Colonel Simmons, USAF: The Chief of Standard Balance [inaudible] 24x7 for waiver, I carry in my cigarette pocket. We issue about five [waivers] a day in the world of airlift with pilots out in the system, anywhere from a light bulb that's gone out that's on the top of the airplane that's required to fly it in controlled airspace, and we have to seek a waiver to fly that; to a piece of equipment that is what we deem essential for normal operations, like requirements for today's mission. We asked the pilot to call us back up and let us know if a piece of equipment is not working so we can track the mission and give them permission.
Question: Just to clarify, did you say there are 153 different types of vehicles that have some kind of permanent waiver now for C-130s?
Colonel Simmons, USAF: For the C-130s.
Question: So the Stryker joins all of those?
Colonel Simmons, USAF: Right.
Question: Give some examples.
Colonel Simmons, USAF: That's a great question. I can get the example for you. I've essentially called the guys at ATTLA (Air Transportablity and Test Loading Agency)[located at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio]. I can't tell you what that acronym stands for. It's in the Air Force hierarchy where we go to engineering experts who will certify loads for air transport on our different aircraft. They do all of the ones that belong to Air Mobility Command. I called up my engineer there and I said hey, we're talking about waivers on Strykers. How many vehicles do you have waivers for right now? His database pulled up 153 variants.
I can tell you one that we just waived is the new Halburtson Loader. The Air Force owns a piece of equipment that we transport via C-130s that we had to do some waivers for. Again, once we get through this process and get Halburtson Loaders in the inventory, getting it set up, we'll probably no longer require those waivers because we'll have the certification letters that tell the crews here are the attributes of this vehicle, here's what it does to you when you are flying.
Question: Sir, Do you have any results from the MAV-CE yet? [Medium Armored Vehicle - Comparison & Evaluation]
General Riley: I don't. I don't think the results are in yet. It's something the Army has tried to stay a distance from so it maintains its neutrality and independence, but I think someone in here can tell us --
Colonel Betack: It closed, the MAV-CE ended on 1 October, the end of the live fire. So right now the ATEC [Army Test & Evaluation Command] is into the data reduction and they're doing their evaluations of whether it's pertinent data or not.
I think we have to have this sometime. . . it's supposed to be accomplished by December and that's where we're looking, at that timeframe.
Question: Do you have an initial AAR [After Action Review] right now?
Colonel Betack: No. Like the general said, we did not want to be in there one way or the other to bias or unbias anything.
Question: General, one of the drawing points for Stryker was that it would enable the brigade to fight in a different manner, more disbursed, more rapidly, etc., etc. Were you able to get any insights into that in MC '02 [Millennium Challenge 2002]?
General Riley: I think we were. Mike, why don't you talk to that and maybe I can come back to it.
The environment in which MC '02 was conducted was what we would call distinctly contemporary. Small scale contingency, distributed battle space, joint, inherently joint, very widely restricted in command and control with the JTF [joint task force] commander on the East Coast and ARFOR [Army Forces] and JFLC [Joint Force Land Component]] commander on the East () Coast, you had combat happening on the West Coast of the United States.
The Stryker brigade, the brigade from the 82nd [Airborne Division], an Apache unit from the 101st [Airborne Division, Air Assault], very tailored to this contemporary operational environment which as you probably know is one of the elements we see in the future of the Army. Very tailored mission packages. So we inserted this brigade into that environment on the heels of an air land assault by the 82nd, also a new capability. Very contemporary with widely disbursed mission sets, six of them.
Colonel Rounds: Really in two areas of Millennium Challenge. The first was in terms of command and control and that ability to take a mission requirement from, really from a far headquarters, which was the 82nd, and be able to have access to all information. They'd get it almost at the same time because of the digital systems that we have. As a result of our planning process we were able to truly be ready to execute the mission as soon as we hit the ground. I had literally an operations order that was passed down through the battalion and the company. They had conducted a rehearsal in a timeframe much faster than I was used to in the past, and certainly in a way that they could get inside of the enemy's decision cycle, which is what we're trying to do.
The other aspect of the brigade that we really cited as powerful is I had more sensors or nodes on the battlefield than a normal brigade, spread over a 50x50 kilometer box on average. Most of those sensors were provided by the cavalry squadron, what we call the reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition [RSTA] squadron. With that I was able to see to I would say a very high degree of resolution where the OPFOR [opposing force] was, in some instances maybe 85 to 90 percent resolution. As a result I saw them first, understood what they were doing, and then made a decision based on that. So if I maneuvered Captain Tegtmeier's company onto an objective area, they never made contact until they got up to the objective area. So we made contact on our terms, and in most cases from a direction that the OPFOR wasn't anticipating. That's a distinct advantage.
In the past the paradigm was you do a movement to contact, you have to [inaudible] through that, you attrit a good deal of your capability, and by the time you get to the objective area you're slugging it out in more or less an equal fight and we wanted better than an equal fight. I think in most cases in Millennium Challenge we demonstrated that it could use that information that I received from the cavalry squadron to keep it from being a fair fight.
Question: Did the wheels have anything to do with how you were using your troops and executing your various missions, from the fact the Stryker has wheels?
Colonel Rounds: For us, the wheels -- and you talk in terms of mobile, agile, all of that.
I'll give an example. They [Captain Tegtmeier's Stryker company] had one mission where they had to move 97 kilometers and they had to do it at night and were able to do it within a couple of hours, over 97 kilometers, moving relatively fast -- averaged anywhere from 20 to 30 miles an hour. The systems on board told them exactly where they needed to be on the battlefield. They showed up at the objective area, the troops were fresh and ready to fight because of the comfortable ride inside the Stryker.
Colonel Begines: If I could jump in with a follow up here, I heard an interesting exchange between these two [Captain Tegtmeier and Captain Bazin, the OPFOR commander]. I'm an old tanker. I fought at the National Training Center. I know there's places you can't get tracks. But these two had an exchange, they fought against each other, and I don't know who wants to go first about the Stryker unit. . . .
Captain Tegtmeier: It was my unit Colonel Rounds' report referred to earlier, that first mission we had, we refer to it as the Pioneer site mission, but we had a very long movement from the airhead to the actual objective and Colonel Rounds and Colonel Choppa used all the assets in the brigade and battalion cell so I could maneuver mostly out of contact and get to the objective.
Once we got to the objective what we tried to do is, there's two pieces of ground that we thought were critical and we got on those pieces of high ground.
When we were planning for that mission we had some observer controllers, who are experienced people at the National Training Center that watch what we're doing. They don't evaluate, but they help us learn lessons. So they were trying to coach us against trying to drive a vehicle on those two pieces of terrain. They said there was no way we could get those vehicles up there. Based on their experience at the National Training Center, no vehicles that they know of could have gotten up there. But we were able to get the vehicles up on top of that hill.
Captain Bazin: There were two different elements of being able to strike or get surprise on me. We come up with different courses of action, what we think the enemy on our side was going to do. And I discounted one course of action, of them [Captain Tegtmeier's Stryker company] driving up a 1200 foot mountain. We could not drive a HMMWV [High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle] up there. I did not believe the Stryker could get up there.
The two things that surprised me, the element of surprise, one was the mobility. In my observation, more mobile then the HMMWVs, the OC's [observer controllers) couldn't follow, in their HMMWVs. The second thing was how quiet the vehicle [the Styrker] was. The muffler on the vehicle, Typically out in the desert you can hear and see -- before you see a vehicle you can hear it and you can see its dust cloud. We did not with the Stryker. About 50-60 meters away you still can't hear the Stryker. So they got right up on me in my dismounted position and with their heavy weapons.
So those were the two things, the mobility and how quiet the vehicle was.
Question: Captain Tegtmeier, you mentioned about the observer controllers not being able to keep up with it?
Captain Tegtmeier: The observer controllers have HMMWVs and they moved with us through the desert. The way the suspension system is on the Stryker, with the eight wheels and they all have independent suspension, we were able to move at much greater speeds than a lot of other vehicles can. We're not beating the soldiers up in the back of the thing. In fact, we're actually able to rest plan over long distances, it's so comfortable for the soldiers. The observer controllers in their HMMWVs, whenever we would stop, they would have to keep going because they could not maintain the speeds we could over that rough terrain.
Question: Can you tell about the terrain? What made it so difficult that they shouldn't go there. Was it the --
Captain Tegtmeier: It was the steep slopes. We had done a lot, we had done basically a month and a half of training at the Yakima Training Center in preparation for Millennium Challenge and training up there is pretty lethal. There's a lot of steep terrain there. We were able to learn a capability there based on the slopes that we could handle there, and doing a map reconnaissance, we figured we could handle those pieces of ground when we got out there [to the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin].
Question: What kind of steepness were we talking about here?
Captain Bazin: Probably 20-30 percent grades with this big, sheer rock. You cannot drive a HMMWV up that slope.
Captain Tegtmeier: And that's the other piece of it. There are large rocks up on the high ground at the National Training Center. They're very sharp, large rocks and it beats up a lot of vehicles. We didn't have any problem getting up it. The actual published abilities of the Stryker is 60 degrees up or down slope or 30 degrees side slope is what it can handle.
Question: General Riley, I'm hoping you can explain a couple of the key performance parameters about this program. I understand there's four. C-130 deployability. What does hat mean? Does that mean that the vehicle is supposed to be deployed by the C-130 and that when it comes off the C-130 it should be ready and able to fight? It needs reconfiguration time? I think there's some misinformation that may be out there. There was a perception when the Army started this program back in March 2000 that whatever the IAV [Interim Armored Vehicle] was going to be, the vehicle was going to easily fit on and off a C-130. One of the other parameters was for the vehicle to carry a squad of soldiers. That squad of soldiers were to come out in that vehicle and be ready to fight right away. That's not seeming to be the case here.
So please explain maybe what C-130 deployability means and maybe explain -- Is the Army ever going to be able to attain a capability where a C-130 is going to carry a Stryker, carry a squad of soldiers in that same aircraft, and have it roll off in a fairly short amount of time and.?
Colonel Begines : First of all, Colonel Betack is TRADOC [Training & Doctrine Command] Systems Manager. He sets user requirements. He's the perfect guy to answer, and our airlifter will have something to say. We have a lot to say. [Laughter]
Colonel Betack: What you're talking about is, of the four key parameters that come out of the operations requirements document, there's four of them. One of them is interoperability. That interoperability means that we are able to host any of the [ABCS] systems, the communication systems, so that we'll be able to communicate not only joint but also in a combined operation. And the platform hosted those very well. We had no problems with that.
Another one that you brought up was the ability to carry a nine-man squad, whether that squad be an infantry squad or an engineer squad, and there is ample room in the back of the ICV [infantry carrier variant of the Stryker] and the CSV [combat support/engineer variant] for both of these nine-man squads.
Now those are nine-man squads and on top of that you add a crew. You have a driver and a vehicle commander.
The third one that you talked about is the transportability. To make sure that we don't have any problem, let me read you exactly what it says. The key parameter is in the order [operations requirements document].
It says, "To transport in a C-130 aircraft an IAV [Interim Armored Vehicle] must enter and exit the aircraft capable of immediate combat operations." Does not require a full basic load. That's the requirement that we have.
What we actually can do, if you read that down line-by-line, can we get the vehicle into a C-130? Yes, we can. Can we get out of a C-130? Of course we can. Then it talks about immediate combat operations. I guess that's where a lot of people have had a lot of problems lately.
We don't expect the Stryker to be coming rolling off the back of the C-130 with the guns ablaze. There is some configuration time because of the way it was built, and a simple example is the remote weapon station [RWS]. The remote weapon station needs to be dropped down in order for the vehicle to fit into the C-130. So the configuration time at a minimum when we pull off the back of a C-130 is to erect the RWS again, so that takes time.
Now we're talking, the soldiers today have demonstrated they have the capability of putting it into immediate combat operation in as little as five to seven minutes.
Question: What about you have to put additional armor on --
Colonel Betack: The armor that we have on the vehicle right now is 14.5 integral armor. That is there all the time, 360 degrees on the vehicle.
The additional armor that we were going to bring on is the armor for the RPG [to defend against rocket propelled grenades]. That armor will have to travel in a different aircraft and it will link up in the area of operations where it gets put on. That's the same way we do it for the Bradley today. The Bradley does not travel with its RPG armor on it. It links up with it in the area of operation where they're put on and then it continues with the mission.
Colonel Begines: I think part of this confusion is, realize, we have to have a secure airfield for the C-130 to land. So this notion of it will be "guns blazing" as you come out the back ramp is a non-sequitor. It's just not something that's going to happen.
Question: So going back to March 2000 the Army never envisioned that the Stryker was going to roll off a C-130 and be able to fight right away, that was never --
Colonel Betack: No, it's not a forced entry capability, it's an early entry capability. So we're going to go into a permissive or semi-permissive environment. We don't expect to need -- I can tell you right now, I don't think Jimmy [Simmons] or any of his pilots is going to be flying a C-130 into any kind of airfield where there's bullets flying.
Question: Can you answer how much time it will take for the armor to be put on before we get further away?
Colonel Betack: The RPG [rocket propelled grenade] armor?
Question: How much time will it take to put on?
Colonel Begines: There are a couple of pieces here. Let me ask people who have done it. If you're on a C-130, how long does it take you to roll off and prepare for combat operations?
Lt. Colonel Choppa: For immediate combat operations, I've served in a Ranger battalion, airborne units, and even in those forced entry units where you jump in, you still have to take your weapon out of your protective jump pack and put it into operation. If you heavy drop a vehicle in you still have to re-rig it on the drop zone. All of that takes five minutes. No more.
Light infantry, if they air land still take five minutes to get off and get their [inaudible] ready. So five minutes of preparation to get combat ready is what our forced entry units do. That's what the Stryker capability is.
Captain Tegtmeier: You mentioned that a squadron is five vehicles. That's not true. In fact today we did it on two different C-130s and if you come out tomorrow you can see that happen. Today we had 11 personnel flying with a Stryker loaded up with everything they would need for combat operations -- all their personal equipment, body armor, to include chest plate, the extra armor we put inside the body armor, we had fuel cans, water cans, replicated ammo, all that stuff, all on the C-130 with the Stryker vehicle and those 11 personnel.
Colonel Rounds: When they roll off, five minutes, they're ready to fight for 72 hours.
Question: I guess what I was asking was does the Air Force have to certify if the Army can do that yet? If the Army has not been given approval to carry a Stryker and carry a squad in the transport aircraft, is that going to happen some day or not? What's the Air Force's stance on it? Will it limit the Stryker's effectiveness when it gets into [inaudible] --
Question: -- the Stryker or the Stryker bringing combat troops when it gets into a hot LZ [landing zone]?
Colonel Simmons: I can't talk to the limitations that would be on the Stryker brigade. These gentlemen can do that for you but I can tell you what the airlift architecture is if this were a force moved forward and how we certify loads for transport on all our aircraft.
First off, in the process of measuring stresses on the airplane, the process of understanding how to get people into and out of the aircraft with the engines running, engines not running, whether we'll be in a semi-permissive environment, permissive environment, is a pretty scientific analysis and the kind of process that we undertake.
We started with, the first waiver was a vehicle with its driver. Let's make sure that that works. That worked. Then we went to MC '02 [Millennium Challenge 2002] and said okay, let's do it with four soldiers on board. We took them out and proved that, that worked. In the last couple of days, we've done it a couple of times now with 11 soldiers and two extra crewmembers in the back of the aircraft. We're tailoring our crew so that we've got a good mix of aviators and ground support personnel to make sure that we have in effect a package that goes forward. From what we checked last night, with 15 people, we did the check on that. The walk-through, so that we know how we'll affect the operation of the aircraft.
Right now we have not discovered anything that would derail the C-130-Stryker marriage. There's been nothing in the process where we've had engineers or anyone else raise their hand and say this is not going to work. But as I mentioned before we're in the waiver process right now because we're in the area, as we use these two pieces of equipment together and we're learning as we go a little bit.
But for the airlift architecture, I think you guys need to understand the C-130s aren't going to load Strykers up at Fort Dix and fly them across the ocean. The way we're going to use the aircraft is through a hub and spoke operation where we'll put it on C-17 aircraft, we'll fly it to the forward operating location that is a permissive environment, do a cross-load to C-130s, and [inaudible] the disbursed operations.
To help facilitate disbursed operations the C-130 would take it [the Stryker] to the different assault zones where the Army needs it in the forward area as we do our combined plans so that they're as close as we can get them in a semi-permissive environment. The C-130 is not equipped to go into a place where it would take heavy fire. We don't do it today in Afghanistan; we don't do it today in Pakistan. We just have not used the aircraft that way in an airland role. Every time we put it where hostile forces, we may encounter hostile forces; we use the aircraft the way we just talked about.
CPT Tegtmeier: What the colonel's talking about, we actually executed in Millennium Challenge. We flew my whole company down with 14 Strykers on C-17s from Fort Lewis down to the National Training Center, into an ISB [intermediate staging base] in southern California from a logistics standpoint. From there we flew the rest of the way in on C-130s. And that's the exact concept we were talking about.
Colonel Begines: And that's what you will see tomorrow. A C-17 will come in and offload the three Strykers and [inaudible] get another Stryker on board a C-130 after offloading. It's a pretty quick process actually.
Question: When does the Air Force expect that it's going to certify a Stryker and a squad of infantry on C-130s?
Colonel Simmons: I can't give you a date. When the engineers are satisfied that everything's going to work properly and that we can handle it. But as I said right now, we're on track with measuring the two pieces of equipment and how they work together and the new things we need to be aware of for the aircrews and the soldiers who control the weapon.
Colonel Begines: I think we've touched upon a really important area. I'm going to ask Colonel King to make some comments here. The Air Force is working their way through a process. Because the Army is serious about transformation, serious about the Stryker brigade combat teams, this whole thing has been accelerated. So rather than have all of the answers up front, which is historically kind of how we've done it in the past, we are pushing ahead, so we're encountering situations where we have to work our way through waivers to get to the end result. Could you talk a little bit about acceleration?
Lt. Colonel King: I want everybody to understand that what makes this so different than anything we've done before is how quickly we're doing it, and we're doing it by doing a lot of stuff that we would normally do sequentially, we're doing it in parallel, we're doing it concurrently. At the same time we're producing these fielded vehicles to an operational unit that's out training with those vehicles, we have a rigorous test program ongoing.
Now in the normal development you're going to spend six or eight or ten years developing a vehicle and testing it and then we're going to give it to the unit, and anything we discover at that point that the testers missed or the engineers missed or something the unit simply doesn't like about the vehicles, you're stuck with it. It's a done deal, the design's cast in stone. You're not going to change anything or fix anything that's broken until you go to the A1 model six or eight years hence.
What we're doing in this case is we're getting direct feedback literally daily from the unit. We're learning directly from the Air Force exactly what we need to do to cause things to happen and we're doing that even as we build and field these vehicles.
So if the unit says here's a feature of the vehicle that we know meets the requirements in accordance with the order, but we would like these additional capabilities, or the Air Force says it would be easier to do this if we make the change. It's a whole different way of doing business. We cut things into production. We've got contractors who literally live in the motor pool with the soldiers and will make adjustments to the vehicles in the unit motor pools in accordance with what it will take to make the vehicle better.
So when you get to the end and this brigade is certified in May, they're going to have a lot more capability than they would have if we had started six years ago developing this thing and then just handed it to them as a done deal.
Colonel Betack: One of the great things we got out of Millennium Challenge was the feedback from the soldiers. We had those under 24x7 operations going on and we got some great feedback. We've got to go back and make some adjustments to them. But it's not one of those things that these adjustments are going to take years. No. They're going to take weeks, they're going to take months. What the real benefit is, people inside the brigade are going to have the benefit of what they've gone through so the platforms that we deliver to them, by the time we get to the last battalion in that brigade, they're going to have the corrections and the solutions they've asked for that we learned from Millennium Challenge. That's a big deal. You don't get that happening every day on a [material].
Question: Can you give us an example of one of those changes?
Colonel Betack: Sure. They found a lot of problems with the RWS, the remote weapon station. From their insight on problems, an example. We found out with the RWS when you stuck the 50-caliber MILES on it you end up having pressure on a direction that was not anticipated by the contractor. These soldiers found that out. As soon as we got back the material solution to the contractor they corrected it. As a matter of fact that thing was corrected before we even finished Millennium Challenge.
Question: But that's a sort of training center issue, right? It's not a warfighting issue.
Colonel Betack: What it is, it's training, but everything we do in training is preparation for war. So that's the way I look at it. But yes, it was one of those things that was an anomaly, that was corrected immediately for the training.
Lt. Colonel King: I'll give you another example. I was talking to the company commander about seatbelts. The testers go out and they've got seat belts for each position in the vehicle, and the way the testers test it is they yank on the seatbelts until they break and they say yeah, it meets the requirement of X amount of pull and X amount of finger pressure to release the buckle.
Well, the seatbelts the way they're built is they're like a car seatbelt where you pull the thing across [your chest] and buckle it down here [at the waist]. Well guess what, when you're loaded up in the vehicle and you've got all this gear on, it's kind of hard to get to that seatbelt. A tester's not going to figure that out but the soldiers did and said it would be a lot easier if the seatbelts were here [at the waist]. So we're going to put the seatbelts here. Then at some point in the next several months we're going to go back and retrofit all the vehicles that had the seatbelts the other way and make them the way the soldiers want them.
If we were doing this in a [inaudible] vehicle, we'd build 1,000 vehicles, put them out in the field and everybody would say gosh, we hate these seatbelts and wouldn't wear them. This way we get seatbelts that work, the soldiers will wear it, a better safety feature for the vehicle.
Lt. Colonel King: And we didn't take 20 years to develop it. [Laughter]
Colonel Simmons: One last point on the certification. That's not an endless process because equipment, as you guys well know, under DoD we tend to try and improve our equipment every time we discover there's a way we can make it even more lethal or provide better service to the folks who use it. So it's not an endless process. I would defer, again I don't have the timeline for you, but the last time I talked with the engineers in here looking at the footprints across the load as we load the vehicle on the aircraft, and I believe we have that one solved by how we configure it to upload the ICV [infantry carrier variant]. The last one we looked at was the emergency egress capability, which we tested last night for the engineers. So the checklist for the engineers is probably fairly complete, and we'll look for an ICV certification, the Stryker certification, relatively soon.
Question: General Riley, does the Army still expect to meet its goal of a May 2003 combat ready date for the first Stryker brigade combat team?
General Riley: We do. Mike, what do you think?
Colonel Rounds: Sir, I'm going to be ready to go in May.
Question: A question on the RWS. Can you talk about the user perspective that came back, targeting ability, [FLIR, Forward Looking Infrared Radar] and whether or not it should be stabilized? Are those things you're going to go back and change?
Colonel Betack: Sure. The [FLIR] -- most definitely we are going back, because that will give us the capability at night that we asked for. The stabilization on the platform right now to be honest with you, they've able to fire that weapon system on the move. The company commander can tell you more because he's actually done it, but you have to remember this is not a Bradley or a tank. We are not asking that weapon system to be a precision-firing weapon system. It's a suppressive weapon system. It enhances the maneuverability of the squad when they're dismounting. It's not there to do long shots, angle shots, kill as we expect out of the Bradley and the tank.
Question: Are they able to shoot on the move?
Colonel Begines: That's an excellent point. I often get queries from the media and essentially, they ask why the Stryker doesn't have such and such a capability. And if you take it to the logical conclusion, the question is, why doesn't a Stryker have all the capabilities of a tank? Well it could, but it would weight 70 tons. That's the short answer.
CPT Tegtmeier: The remote weapons station, you can fire on the move. You're not going to be as accurate as you would if you were stopped. No, it is not stabilized. It can suppress a target on the move.
The infantry carrier, the purpose for it is to provide survivability and mobility to infantry soldiers, to get to a fight, dismount and go fight -- do the infantry thing. It's not a tank that would be a fighting vehicle. You're not supposed to be able to fight out of it. The weapon system on there, that is a bonus for us to support the infantry once they've dismounted or they're returning to the vehicle.
I will say this. That remote weapon station is extremely accurate. The first time we took it out and live-fired it, everybody was impressed. You can put rounds on targets past a thousand meters, first burst. And a 50 caliber machine gun was never intended to be that accurate. If you can put rounds in the aperture of the bunkers outside of one kilometer, it's very impressive.
Colonel Begines [to Colonel Rounds]: You made some comments earlier that I didn't realize, I'm an Armor officer, but the anti-armor capability in an SBCT, I didn't know this but it's kind of astounding.
Colonel Rounds: If you look at the anti-armor capability we have, it's resident not in the Stryker or ICV [infantry carrier variant] but resident in the [Javelins?] that we have. And if you're looking at fighting, as I talked about before, I'm going to see where the enemy is. I'm not supposed to go up head-to-head against armored vehicles. I'm going to see where the enemy is and then I'm going to maneuver the forces against them and position the Javelin or the anti-tank systems I have that goes on top of the Stryker, in order to make contact with them when and where I want to. And routinely, when you have Javelins training at the National Training Center, the OPFOR can , you can validate this, they draw a two-kilometer circle around them [the Javelins] because they have about a 99 percent kill rate. So that's what we use if we go into a fight where we have to take out armor vehicles. If you look at the density of Javelins, it's very impressive across the brigade.
General Riley: The Army just added information as an element of combat power a couple of years ago, and the Stryker brigade combat team is a good example of how information can be used to enhance the combat capability and the lethality of this organization, because he can see the battlefield more clearly. He can deploy his weapons more effectively. He increases his lethality.
Question: Sir, what do the Stryker combat brigade teams give combatant commanders that they don't have now?
General Riley: Speed, flexibility for starters. If you put two Stryker brigades in a position to be worldwide deployable, and these first two Stryker brigades are in such a place, and the third Stryker brigade is in such a place. . . I don't think we own a deployable platform that's better located geographically than Alaska in terms of being able to reach the world and to do so quickly.
You enhance their flexibility when you give them something that can introduce American forces into an area of conflict in either a preventive, deterrent way or as a rapid follow-on to forced entry.
Question: I wanted to go back to the airlift issue for just a second, from the Air Force and Army standpoint. I was trying to get a sense of how, for lack of a better word, academic the C-130 issue is. How often in a real live operational environment do you anticipate having to load these things on C-130s to get where you need to be, versus how often is a C-17 going to be able to handle things?
Colonel Begines: That is a great question, and you [Colonel Simmons] had an interesting answer.
Colonel Simmons: I don't know which one I gave. [Laughter]
Colonel Begines: I was under the misconception, and I'll say I think others are too, that the C-17s bring the Strykers in or ships bring them in until they're about 800, 900 miles away and then you use C-130s. That's not the way operations are conducted. That's not the way the Air Force does it either.
Colonel Simmons: We would establish forward operating locations and bring them in via C-17 in a strategic flow, and then the three Stryker on each C-17 offers an opportunity to set up a shuttle to various locations, to forward operating locations based on the air assaults required. Again, a joint team would sit down and discover where the Strykers need to be and which variant needs to be there at what time, and we build the air bridges with C-130s to flow back and forth.
A C-130 with a Stryker that is presently in use can do a 500 nautical mile round trip without refueling. So I can take a Stryker out, if I can get it in with a C-17 close enough, I can go out, drop it off, fly back, and while loading the next Stryker get some gas and go again. So one crew could probably move four Strykers in a single day. So you can do the math. If we have two or three C-130s operating out of one location the air bridge would be pretty efficient to get them moved up fairly quickly.
Question: You would fly these things from the United States to a location in any part of the world that has C-130 sized airstrips, right?
Colonel Simmons: Not necessarily.
Question: You said you could move them from the United States [inaudible], and [inaudible] C-130s.
Colonel Simmons: Perhaps, but maybe not.
General Riley: Let me give you the perspective of a forward deployed commander. My last life was Commander of V Corps in Germany. The U.S. Air Force Commander Europe has X number of C-130s that are part of his force structure. CINCEUR [Commander-in-Chief Europe] asked CINC U.S. Army Europe not too long ago if he could use those C-130s to fly Army capabilities around the EUCOM AOR [European Command Area of Responsibility]. And if so, what Army platforms would fit on a C-130? He was thinking back to [Operation] Allied Force, he was thinking back to Task Force Hawk, he was thinking forward to potentially doing things in Montenegro or another part of the Balkans that was stabilized, and there were so few C-17 airplanes in the world, and the competition for the them was so high and they're controlled by TRANSCOM [Transportation Command]. He's looking for the CINCEUR, he's looking for something that he could pull the trigger on right there in the theater if given the green light by the national leadership. Flexibility.
Question: Several of you have mentioned it not beating up the people in the back of this thing. I've never ridden in a tracked vehicle. What is it about this thing compared to the Bradley or a 113 or whatever the comparison is, why is this thing better?
Captain Tegtmeier: I've ridden, worked in a Bradley battalion and now with this [the Styrker], and certainly I was also with the 19th Division Motorized when we had that back in the '80s and it was primarily HMMWV-based. You can go places in a Stryker faster than with any other vehicle than we have in the inventory.
For example, I was stopped several times by the OCs [observer controllers], the thing about them being able to keep up with us. We were moving across the desert floor at night, 30 to 40 miles an hour and the people in the back in most cases were working their sleep plan because it's that comfortable.
Just nodding off, quick look inside the vehicle of where everybody else in reference to the FBCB2 [inaudible], with the weapon systems so you can see the environment around you and your close and you let everyone out and you're fresh and ready to fight. You are more comfortable than any vehicle that I've personally been on, and I think I've been on about every vehicle in the Army.
General Riley: Thirty-seven years ago I was a private riding on the back of an M113. Seven years later I commanded a company of them, then I commanded a battalion of Bradleys, a brigade of Bradleys, during Desert Storm. There is literally no comparison in the amount of space, the amount of comfort, the ability to do things in the back. I was a young teenager. I'd have killed to ride around in one of these things. In the back of a Bradley you can get seasick.
Colonel Begines: I can tell you from a tanker perspective, we use the word comfort, but it really isn't about comfort per se. In most tracked vehicles you get beat up, your muscles get worn out from bracing yourself so that you don't get battered about inside. You are worn out, you are physically worn out after a certain amount of time of moving in those vehicles, and that's the difference.
Colonel Betack: One other thing is noise. You can ride in a track vehicle on a hard surface. The engines that we have to have in there to move that amount of weight, first of all the engine noise is extremely loud, and then you hear the constant rattling of these tracks going on the hard pan. It just drives you kind of nuts. It sort of lulls you away.
In the Stryker, I was at Fort Lewis, they took me for a ride in the Stryker, and they took me from where we were doing the new equipment training out to where the driver's training was. I was sitting in the back, the doors, the hatch, everything closed, and we shot right out there.
The amazing thing about it was I felt we were on the road all the way out. When you pop the hatch [open] and look back and you saw what you drove across and you realized what comfort you had in that vehicle, it was phenomenal.
Captain Tegtmeier: You brought a great point. It's an important thing to note is how fresh your soldiers can be when they get out from the back of that thing. We were on a movement for seven hours prior to one of our attacks. The guys got out of the back of it and went on the assault. And they were fine.
Captain Bazin: [inaudible] entering the back, [inaudible]. Normally when they [soldiers in Bradleys or M113s] come out after bouncing around in the desert for ten days, they're pretty lethargic. These [Stryker soldiers] came out pretty quick. After a full night's movement I was surprised at how quick and aggressive these guys were, not to mention the same 1200-foot mountain that we were talking about earlier, they assaulted up that too. After a long night it was pretty impressive from that perspective.
Lt. Colonel Choppa: Some of the issues that we heard from the leader perspective is because it is quiet you can communicate between leader and soldier and understand each other without screaming over the sounds of a grinding engine. And then with [FBCB2] and the thermal imagery onyour screen, you have situational awareness of events.
Lt. Colonel King: One of the words we used a little while ago, talking about another subject, is "academic." I remember Ms. Roosevelt talking about, at the MAV-CE briefing. . . it gets back to the whole wheels versus track thing. It's really become academic. I was as much a skeptic as anyone when we selected this vehicle. Even though I worked the system. And let me tell you, there are advantages to this wheeled system that we never envisioned when we selected it.
My favorite one that I like to talk about just gets back to the whole issue of survivability. When you get shot in a tracked vehicle and blow a track off that thing or you hit a landmine, you go in circles. You don't go anywhere, and you don't go anywhere until somebody gets out of that vehicle and repairs that track. If you're being shot at by somebody, they haven't gone away just because they killed the vehicle. They're going to wait until you get out and repair that track and they're going to shoot at you some more so you're in a very dangerous situation.
With the wheeled Stryker vehicle, we've had live fire test shots and we've blown out five tires and the thing has climbed and gone through all the same obstacles on the test course after having five tires shot out that it went through with eight fully inflated tires.
The point I'm trying to make is, if you lose a road wheel -- I cite the example of a vehicle that's self-recovered missing one rear wheel out at the NTC. If you lose tires, if you lose rear wheels, you don't have to stop and repair the vehicle. You just keep going on those run flats or on the remaining wheels until you're at a safe location where you can perform whatever necessary battle damage assessment you have to do. So in that sense you get a tremendous degree of survivability to go with the unexpectedly greater degree of mobility that you've got.