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Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT)

The high frequency of joint contingency operations in the 1990's -- a frequency directly linked to the rise in global instability and uncertainty in the post-Cold War world and complicated by the reduction in the number of US forward presence forces -- exposed an area of risk with respect to the Army's ability to respond rapidly to crisis. Accordingly, the 1999 Army Strategic Planning Guidance (ASPG) establishes and explicit requirement for the Army of the 21st Century to become more strategically responsive. To meet these requirements the Army began the development of the STRIKE FORCE.

Several concrete challenges must be overcome to satisfy this requirement. The Army organization and force structure is not optimized for full spectrum strategic responsiveness. Frequent contingency responses also place a heavy burden on the operational tempo (OPTEMPO) on Army forces. The Army's contingency experience has also established a continuing requirement for rapid, effective team-building of specifically tailored Army task forces comprised of units drawn from the Army's mix of AC/RC, SOF/conventional, and mechanized/light forces.

The STRIKE FORCE mission would be to deploy globally with a mission tailored force package of combat, combat support, and combat service support forces to conduct strategically responsive operations in support of joint contingencies. Capable of commitment across the full spectrum of conflict, the STRIKE FORCE is optimized to conduct small-scale contingency operations and to deter or contain crises, employing the full range of Army, joint, multinational, and interagency capabilities. The STRIKE FORCE may also support offensive or defensive decisive operations and conduct humanitarian assistance. In addition, the STRIKE FORCE Headquarters serves as a vehicle for developing the future force.

In October 1999 Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki annunced that the Army will develop two technology-enhanced, fast-deployable and lethal brigades at Fort Lewis WA using knowledge gained by Force XXI experiments and off-the-shelf technology available from the private sector. Additionally, heavy tracked vehicles like armored personnel carriers and tanks would be replaced out by lighter, faster, more fuel-efficient wheeled vehicles. He said the Army will develop the capability to put brigade combat teams anywhere in the world within 96 hours after liftoff, a division on the ground in 120 hours, and five divisions within 30 days. The new Initial Brigades build on the Strike Force concept, which focused on the the ability to deploy, almost immediately, a lethal modular force, tailored to operational requirements.

The first two initial brigade combat teams (IBCT's) of the interim force are being created at Fort Lewis, Washington, by reorganizing the 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division, and then the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light Infantry). At least six IBCT's will be established, including at least one in the reserve components. The majority of the interim force will be oriented toward the Pacific. Units converted to the IBCT structure will be the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate) at Fts. Wainwright and Richardson in Alaska; the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light) at Ft. Polk, LA; the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) at Schofield Barracks, HI; and the 56th Brigade of the 28th Infantry Division (mechanized) of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

The interim force will not be an early-entry force. Instead, the IBCT's will fill the gap between early-entry forces and heavier follow-on forces; the brigades will be lethal, agile, and mobile enough to dominate combat during that interval.

Army Training and Doctrine Command schools are developing new doctrine and training techniques for the IBCT's. Some of the training will be provided in the form of simulations delivered through the Army's distance learning system. Tactical leader training for IBCT officers and noncommissioned officers is underway. Company training and brigade and battalion staff-level training was scheduled to begin at Fort Lewis in September.

While development of the future combat system proceeds, the IBCT will be equipped with an interim armored vehicle. The new Stryker brigades cost an estimated $1.5 billion apiece. Initially, the IBCT worked with armored vehicles borrowed from several other countries as surrogates for the interim armored vehicle.

The Army is on schedule to meet its goal of standing up the objective force by Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki's target timeframe of 2008 to 2012. According to Army officials, the Army should attain the technological innovations needed to create the objective force as projected. Key among these are the technologies required to produce the future combat system, which will be a replacement for the 70-ton M1 Abrams tank that will have the same lethality and survivability but will weigh only 20 tons. The Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Technology, Dr. Michael Andrews, predicts, "By the end of [20]05, early [20]06, we will have a future combat systems demonstration. We're not having to create new technologies out of thin air."

The Army's IBCT is a full-spectrum, wheeled combat force. It is employed in all operational environments against all projected future threats. However, it is designed and optimized primarily for employment in small-scale contingency operations in complex and urban terrain, confronting low-end and midrange threats that may employ both conventional and asymmetric capabilities. The IBCT deploys very rapidly, executes early entry, and conducts effective combat operations immediately on arrival to prevent, contain, stabilize, or resolve a conflict through shaping and decisive operations. The IBCT participates in war (with augmentation) as a subordinate maneuver component within a division or a corps and in a variety of possible roles. The IBCT also participates (with appropriate augmentation) in stability and support operations as an initial-entry force or as a guarantor to provide security for stability forces by means of its extensive capabilities.

The IBCT is a divisional brigade. It is designed to optimize its organizational effectiveness and to balance the traditional domains of lethality, mobility, and survivability with the domains required for responsiveness, deployability, sustainability, and a reduced in-theater footprint. Its two core qualities are its high mobility (strategic, operational, and tactical) and its ability to achieve decisive action through a dismounted infantry assault. The major fighting components are its motorized infantry battalions. The IBCT has a unique reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) squadron to enhance situational understanding.

To achieve a rapid deployment threshold, the brigade's design capitalizes on the widespread use of common vehicular platforms-particularly a highly mobile, medium-weight, combat/CS platform coupled with the minimization of the personnel and logistical footprint on theater. Encompassing a personnel strength of about 3,500 and preconfigured in ready-to-fight combined-arms packages, the entire IBCT can deploy within 96 hours of "first aircraft wheels up" and begin operations immediately upon arrival.

The Army is currently converting the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division (Medium) and 1st Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) at Lewis. There are already more than 100 Strykers at Lewis. Under current plans, the next units to convert to the Stryker would be the 172nd Infantry Brigade stationed at Ft. Wainwright, Alaska, the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light) at Ft. Polk, La., and the 56th Brigade (Mechanized) of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized), located in Philadelphia.

The Army plans to shift one of the two Ft. Lewis, Wash.-based Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) to Europe by FY '07 to meet a recommendation in the FY '01 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The QDR advised that the Army station a BCT in Europe to augment its forces in Europe, which include the 1st Armored Division, the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Each of the two divisions has two maneuver brigades located in Germany, while the 173rd Airborne Brigade is stationed in Italy. Such an assignment would mean either retasking one of the six already-planned BCTs, or adding a seventh brigade. The Army would convert one of the current five Europe-based brigades to a BCT by FY '07, while the 3rd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division (Medium) would revert back to a normal brigade, such as with M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

On 08 December 2003 the Department of Defense approved plans for the Army to field six Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT). Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved an Army enhancement plan that provides for the acquisition of Stryker Brigade Combat Teams (SBCT) 5 and 6. The Army's plan focused on enhancing the aviation, fire support, network, and sensor capability of SBCTs 5 and 6, and retrofitting brigades 1 through 4 with newer technology as it becomes available. The approval gives the Army permission to begin expending funds for the new brigades' acquisition and fielding. Rumsfeld directed the Army to prepare the plan in a Dec. 2002. The memorandum approved SBCTs 1 through 4, but directed further study of SBCTs 5 and 6 before the Army would receive final approval to field them. Additionally, the plan reviewed basing options for the brigades and the desirability of associating Stryker brigades with Air Force aerial expeditionary forces to facilitate development of joint doctrine, training, and deployment. The fifth SBCT, scheduled for fielding in 2006, will be in the 2d Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (Light) at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. The sixth SBCT, scheduled for fielding from 2008 - 2010, will be the 56th Brigade (Mechanized), 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized), of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

The Army announced on May 14, 2004 that 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment (Light), will begin the transformation to an Infantry-based Stryker Brigade upon its return from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit is expected to attain an initial operational capability (IOC) as an infantry-designed SBCT by late 2006. The conversion of the 2d ACR to an infantry-centric SBCT supports the Army's transition to modularity, standardizes the design for all six planned SBCTs, and increases the number of Army infantry formations available to combatant commanders worldwide to set the tempo of battle and act decisively against enemy forces.




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