The Bayonet

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

SBCTs showcase capabilities

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Envisioned in the late ’90s and developed a few years later, the Stryker Brigade Combat Team combines maneuverability with functional firepower, serving as an effective tool in the fight to gain overmatch against the enemy.

But more than just Soldiers go into this formation, the only one of its kind to feature three maneuver battalions.

Col. Elmer Speights Jr., director of TRADOC Capabilities Manager – Stryker, invited more than a dozen personnel from Anniston Army Depot, Ala., to Fort Benning last week for an in-depth look at the Stryker Brigade Combat Team — its capabilities and what it looks like in action.

While the professionals at Anniston are responsible for the Stryker when it’s out of combat, most have never even seen one fire, Speights said.

“You see the dedication on their faces. They actually love what they do,” said Speights, who toured the Alabama facility last fall. “Outside of Anniston, they really had no idea of how their vehicle was being used. They’re all excited. This is the real thing for them.”

Wednesday’s schedule included a brief on the past use and future plans of the SBCT. Afterward, Anniston employees viewed a training exercise conducted by C Company, 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, on Red Cloud Range.

While also a way to say thank you, the visit allowed the visitors to gain new information on the SBCT.

“They get the chance to talk to Soldiers who’ve actually been to combat with their vehicle,” Speights said. “They get to hear a Soldier talk about the good and bad aspects of the vehicle.” The training was as real-world as possible. It included two Bradleys and two Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicles, both conducting live fires.

Speights said the simulated combat scenario would be a first for most of the Anniston employees, who typically see only the aftermath of real encounters downrange.

“They see the devastating damage that comes back from war,” he said. “They fix it like brand new, push it back out, but they don’t know anything about how that vehicle was blown up, what happened to the troops who were in there.

“Then they have these new things called double V hulls that they hear are saving hundreds of lives in theater from IED strikes. They see this devastated vehicle come back in and say, ‘Did this whole crew walk away?’ And we come back and tell them, ‘Yes, they did, and this is why.’”

When Strykers were first developed, they were flat-bottomed vehicles. In 2011, the first double V hull Strykers were fielded to Afghanistan.

The new design provides additional protection against IEDs, and has literally saved Soldiers’ lives, said Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Marcon, Anniston Army Depot sergeant major.

Speights said the additional armor adds to the weight of the vehicle, so developers are looking to add a 450 horsepower engine.

The new engine is one of the many Engineer Change Proposals currently on the table — “small improvements that make a big update in the system,” Speights said. After the updates are approved, the Anniston employees will be the first to see and input the changes. It’s part of a reset program Strykers are currently undergoing to prepare them for the future battlefield.

The Stryker vehicle is expected to last at least another 30 years in the Army, Speights said, and Anniston Army Depot will be part of that future. He said he hopes to continue hosting groups from Anniston Army Depot. The Anniston employees are both Department of Defense civilians and General Dynamics Land Systems contractors.

Ultimately, Marcon said, the visit strengthens the partnership between TCM Stryker and Anniston Army Depot and benefits both.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” he said. “We’ll take back a lot of information, a lot of insight. In the long run, it will help us. They get to see their work and what it does. It’s going to give them more pride in the work they do.”

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