Acting Director Major General Robert “Bo” Dyess’ Comments:
The 2015 Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy (CVMS) stresses that vehicle modernization efforts must solve the “combat vehicle challenge;” that is, designing combat vehicles that protect Soldiers against threats and deliver precision lethality while providing both tactical mobility and global responsiveness within the limitations of vehicle cost and weight. The Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) is capable of moving mounted to positions of advantage rapidly and fighting dismounted to defeat enemy forces. The SBCT, however, faces challenges as potential adversaries improve the range and lethality of their capabilities.
In the aftermath of its annexation of Crimea in March 2014, Russian forces began supporting separatists in Eastern Ukraine with advanced weaponry. This ongoing conflict offers important insights about the lethality of the modern battlefield. The U.S. Army has not faced this level of lethality, particularly in Europe, since World War II. As General Daniel Allyn, Vice Chief of Staff of Army, stated during his most recent testimony, the Army could find itself “outgunned, outranged, and outdated.” The Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV), the primary maneuver vehicle in the SBCT, lacks the sensors and weapons to detect, recognize, identify and suppress or defeat threats at extended ranges or provide fire support for infantry as they dismount in close proximity to the enemy. The lack of sufficient mobile protected direct fire support throughout the formation makes it difficult to maintain freedom of movement and action, and makes the formation’s Soldiers vulnerable to surprise encounters with the enemy. Moreover, force protection improvements to protect the Stryker from IEDs and RPGs in Iraq and Afghanistan have significantly reduced the vehicle’s tactical mobility. Continued modernization of the SBCT is required to maintain overmatch.
In this week’s article, “Lethality Upgrade: Why a New Stryker Variant is needed on the Modern Battlefield,” Captain Andrew Gregory highlights the importance of the current upgrades to Stryker’s lethality. Of importance is Gregory’s implication that any modernization recommendations and solutions, specifically with respect to increased firepower, must be considered across DOTMLPF to collectively produce the force capabilities and attributes desired. He states, “Considering the number of BCTs under the current proposed force, the proliferation of armor and anti-armor threats, and the shift in understanding since the SBCT’s conception, turning down lethality upgrades to the formation is unwise.” He further emphasizes that critics ignore the supporting DOTMLPF solutions that would accompany increasing range and lethality of the Stryker’s weapon systems. “An increase in lethality for the SBCT,” he says, “would necessarily lead to an update to the formation’s doctrine and training techniques.” Gregory concludes that embracing the lethality upgrade and its supporting DOTMLPF solutions as part of a continued “evolution of a robust SBCT concept points toward an Army better prepared for future conflict.”
This week’s reading reminds us that a modern combat vehicle fleet is recognized worldwide as the hallmark of a capable, credible Army. As such, combat vehicle modernization is necessary to address and counter existing and projected capability gaps. Lethality improvements to the Stryker not only makes the platform more lethal, but provides the SBCT Commander more options to maneuver through contested terrain against future enemies. And that modernization is more than just the weapon system. Modernization requires identifying, assessing, and documenting changes across DOTMLPF that collectively produce the force capabilities and attributes prescribed in approved concepts, concept of operations, or other authoritative sources.
As our legacy platforms – M1 Abrams and M2 Bradley – near the fifty-year mark of service and begin to display the limitations of Twentieth Century platforms operating in the Twenty-First Century, Army leaders must determine the necessary balance between modernization and development and identify inflection points that demand decisions for future capabilities. Captain Gregory’s essay and the Stryker lethality upgrade process provides a model of how best to identify emerging critical capability gaps and then rapidly collaborate with industry to provide solutions that ensure future Soldiers and Joint teams can fight, win, and survive on tomorrow’s battlefields.
The US Army Combat Vehicle Modernization Strategy is (here) and the point of contact is Colonel William Chlebowski at 757-501-5472.