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Stryker is 'Way of the Future,' Army NCOs Say

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2002 – The Army's new multi-wheeled, armored vehicle, the Stryker, may be lean compared to an Abrams tank, but it's no lightweight.

At 38,000 pounds, the Stryker can be airlifted to deploy to hot spots around the globe, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary Engelbrecht, who, along with Staff Sgt. John Gemmell Jr., showcased the eighth Stryker off the assembly line to visitors May 9 as part of Public Service Recognition Week activities on the National Mall.

The two 2nd Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade noncommissioned officers from Fort Lewis, Wash., noted that the Stryker's 70-ton cousin, the Abrams, is too heavy to be airlifted, so it deploys by ship, a much slower process.

With the Stryker, Engelbrecht explained, "you'll be able to move a whole brigade within 96 hours" and engage the enemy for 72 hours until heavier forces arrive.

"It's basically getting the infantry to the battle faster," he added.

The rapid-deployable Stryker can also absorb a licking and keep on ticking.

"You can take up to a .50-caliber 'hit' it won't penetrate," Engelbrecht said. And, he added, with supplemental armor, the Stryker can face 14.5mm rocket- propelled grenade rounds.

The Stryker's low-slung silhouette and speedy nature also helps it to survive on the battlefield. The vehicle can travel more than 60 mph on hard roads and maintain 45 mph cross-country, Engelbrecht noted.

It can bite, too, with either a top-mounted, .50-caliber machine gun or Mark 19 grenade launcher as armament.

The gunner operates both weapons via remote control, Engelbrecht said.

Other versions will carry a 105mm gun tube, Engelbrecht noted, for "extra support" to the infantry.

"With the 105, the Stryker will be a tank on wheels," he said.

Eight wheels are easier to maintain in the field than tracks, Engelbrecht said, adding that the Stryker sports "run-flat" tires.

Hard-rubber inner tires allow Stryker drivers to get blowouts "and still move this thing," Gemmell said.

To cross heavy mud or sand, the driver can adjust the tire air-pressure, Gemmell said, adding that with 8-wheel-drive and posi-traction, the Stryker is one nimble beast.

"It's great for getting out of the mud puddles," he said, noting the Stryker can twist and turn "like a pollywog to get out of a tough situation."

Gemmell noted that the old, slow, M-113-based infantry carriers had trouble keeping up with Abrams tanks on the move. The Stryker, he said, has no problem doing so.

The Stryker "is a survivor" and "the absolute way of the future" for combined arms, quick-reaction missions, Gemmell noted.

Although the Stryker is an outstanding vehicle, it isn't replacing the Abrams tank, which the Army will have "for quite a while," Engelbrecht noted.

"This is a medium-weight vehicle to get our units to the fight a lot faster," he said.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy NCOs, Staff Sgt. John Gemmell Jr., left, and Sgt. 1st Class Gary Engelbrecht, pose in front of their Stryker multi-wheeled, armored vehicle May 9 on the National Mall. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageThe rubber-tired Stryker weighs 38,000 pounds, can mount a machine gun, grenade launcher, or a 105mm cannon, and can travel more than 60 mph on hard roads and maintain 45 mph cross-country. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageStaff Sgt. John Gemmell Jr. sits in the Stryker's gunner's chair. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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