U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno brought some real talk to the AUSA convention in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this morning when discussing ground vehicles. Talking about the Army’s need for a new infantry fighting vehicle, Odierno lambasted the performance of the Bradley in combat, saying that the BAE Systems-manufactured combat truck “hasn’t done very well” in terms of survivability, and that in Iraq “we lost more Bradleys than any other combat platform, and we haven’t used a Bradley in five years.”
When it comes to the General Dynamics-made Stryker, he said that “we have so much weight on the Stryker right now, we can’t get it off the damn roads.” The Army is currently in the middle of standing up its ninth Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Hood.
To address these problems, the Army is developing the Ground Combat Vehicle.
“I want a system where we have flexibility,” the general continued, so a commander on the ground can choose between how much protection and mobility he needs. “I want a system that I can incrementally improve” as technologies improve over time, like the continued evolution of the Abrams tank to its current SEP II level, he said.
The chief’s harsh words about the Bradley and Stryker might not be welcome news to the Army’s Ground Combat Systems office, which went to great lengths to explain its modernization initiatives earlier this week.
Since 2003 Scott Davis, program executive officer of ground combat systems, said the Stryker has logged about 27 million combat miles and maintained a 96% operational readiness rate. David Dopp, project manager for the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, added that the service should finish taking delivery of the last of over 700 double V-hulled Strykers later this year, though once the drawdown in Afghanistan is completed, there will be “strategic issues to be determined” about what to do with these heavier vehicles, including how to fit them into existing Stryker brigades.
Dopp also said that coming modernization plans for the 4,000-strong Stryker fleet include improvements in electrical power, a next-generation engine—bumping it up from 350 HP to somewhere in the 400-HP range, and digitization. “We want to be operating in a common operating environment with the Bradley, Abrams and other recently upgraded vehicles,” he said.
And the Army is hardly done with its newly upgraded fleet of A3 Bradleys. In fact, just this week the service held an industry day for its Bradley and Abrams platforms to explain how it wants to increase commonality across the platforms in order to drive down logistics costs. The Bradley and Stryker are also being considered for the Armored Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) program.
Davis also said that the Army is actively looking to sell the Abrams and Bradley internationally, and that “we had some interest in Stryker but it’s nowhere near as far along as the Bradley and Abrams.”
While Gen. Odierno’s criticisms might be true, they had to sting.