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Test compares Stryker with M113

by Joe Burlas

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 16, 2002) -- The Army Test and Evaluation Command started the 16-day field-testing portion of a formal comparison between the new Stryker Armored Vehicle and the M113A3 Armored Personnel Carrier Sept. 12 at Fort Lewis, Wash.

Formally dubbed the Medium Armored Vehicle Comparison Evaluation, the test is required by the 2001 National Defense Authorization Act.

The comparison started with a 50-mile road march, and the first two mission vignettes are schedule to begin Sept. 13.

A wide variety of data will be collected from a platoon of four M113A3s recently rebuilt by Anniston Army Depot, Ala., and a platoon of four new Strykers delivered to Fort Lewis this summer, said Col. Phil North, MAVCE test director.

Two 44-man platoons from Company B, 1-24th Infantry Battalion, 25th Infantry Division will operate the sets of vehicles through two iterations of simulated combat missions. Those missions include an attack on an objective, a raid, a route reconnaissance and a security operation in a stabilized environment against a 33-man, dismounted opposing force.

North stressed that everything possible had been done to ensure all tasks, conditions and standards for the comparison were equal:

o Each platoon received their sets of equipment in July and had same amount of time to train collective and individual tasks in preparation for the evaluation.

o Both platoons will use the same Transformation tactics developed for the Stryker brigade combat teams.

o Two vehicles from each platoon are equipped with a new command, control, communications and computers intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (better known as C4ISR) suites.

o The soldiers assigned to operate the M113s were unfamiliar with operating it before getting them; likewise, the Stryker troops had not used the new wheeled vehicle before getting it, nor had the soldiers operated like owned vehicles.

o Neither platoon is familiar with Fort Lewis' South Rainier Training Area where the mission vignettes will occur.

o All operator and crew maintenance for both vehicles will be conducted by contractors under the direct supervision of comparison evaluators.

The vignettes will require the vehicles to use mostly mixed improved asphalt-covered roads, as well as secondary gravel and logging trails in restricted wooded and urban terrain, North said. However, he said he does expect some cross-country movement as the platoons maneuver through ambushes, obstacles and other situations.

Eight evaluators from TRADOC will record things like how long it takes to get in and out of the vehicle in a combat situation, how long it takes to carry out a medical evaluation and what the maintenance reliability rate is for each vehicle, North said.

The platoons will not run through the same mission side-by-side, but rather run through different vignettes at the same time and then rotate until each has completed all four scenarios. After a day's rest, they will again run through the same vignettes.

The field test will end with a live-fire exercise on Sept. 30.

After collating the results with historical data from formal technical tests of both vehicles, the report of the test is expected to be completed in mid-November.

The Army currently has two Stryker brigades, formerly known as Interim Brigade Combat Teams, standing up at Fort Lewis, Wash. They are the 3rd Bridage, 2nd Infantry Division and the 1st Brigade, 25th ID. The first Stryker brigade is slated to be fully equipped and ready for operational testing late next spring.

Defense planning guidance calls for one of the Fort Lewis Stryker brigades to transfer to Europe by 2007. Which unit that will make the move has not been determined.

Four additional units are scheduled to convert to Stryker brigades over the next five years. Those units include: the 172nd Infantry Brigade at Fort Wanwright, Alaska; 2nd Brigade, 25th I.D. at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, Fort Polk, La; and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 56th Brigade in Philadelphia.

The first Stryker Armored Vehicle was delivered to the Army in April. It currently is being fielded at a rate of 50 a month to the two Fort Lewis brigades. General Motors-General Dynamics Land Systems Defense Group has a contract to build about 2,000 Strykers for the Army between its two plants in Anniston, Ala., and Quebec, Ontario.

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