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Project on Government Oversight




Leaked Report: Stryker Armored Vehicle

March 31, 2005 


An internal Army report, marked "For Official Use Only," reveals that the Stryker Interim Armored Vehicle has been only 50 percent effective overall against Rocket Propelled Grenades during combat in Iraq, much less effective than what the Pentagon has publicly claimed.

According to the report: "Soldiers were briefed that slat armor would protect them against eight out of eleven strikes against Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) attacks…In the field, Soldiers say the slat armor is effective against half of the RPG attacks."

The December, 2004 report was published by the Center for Army Lessons Learned based on a study conducted in Iraq from September 22 to October 19, 2004. Click here to view the report, Initial Impressions Report Operations In Mosul, Iraq which was obtained by POGO earlier this year.

The report said that the 5,000-pound improvised "slat" armor attached to the Stryker is failing to defend against two of the three types of RPG attacks that have been used against U.S. soldiers in Iraq -- primarily strikes by anti-personnel RPGs and anti-tank RPGs. When these two types of RPGs hit the vehicle, "the shrapnel continues to move through the slat and hits exposed personnel," the report says.

Today's Washington Post features a front-page story, "Study Faults Army Vehicle," on the report. In recent days, Inside the Army and CNN have reported on the document.

Some of the other conclusions of the study include:

  • The high-tech Stryker's computer software is slowing and overheating in the extreme temperatures of Iraq. As a result, the Center said the vehicles need to be air-conditioned. The Army has approved adding air-conditioning to the vehicles, but funding has not yet been approved.

  • Stryker operators are not, but should be, trained before going to Iraq because the addition of the 5,000-pound "slat" armor to the vehicle significantly increases the circumference and weight of the Stryker, changing its performance. The slat armor also has reduced the vehicle's off-road capabilities.

  • The Stryker's primary offensive weapon system, a grenade launcher, does not hit targets when the vehicle is moving.

  • The slat armor's extra weight is causing problems with the vehicle's automatic tire pressure system, requiring crews to check tire pressure three times a day.

  • The Stryker brigade's tires were designed primarily for off-road surfaces, but are often being driven on hard road surfaces. As a result, the brigade has been replacing tires at a rate of nine-per-day.

The Stryker, a $4 million-a-copy, eight-wheeled, 19-ton armored Army vehicle, was deployed in Mosul, Iraq beginning in late 2003, despite warnings by the Pentagon's top independent tester, Thomas Christie , Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E), that it was not thoroughly tested against RPGs. (click here to view the report.)

In January 2004, POGO revealed that Christie warned the Secretary of Defense that the vehicle should not be deployed in Iraq because it is vulnerable to rocket propelled grenades (Click here to view POGO's alert.) At that time, POGO also raised questions about the January 2000 hiring of former Army Lt. General David K. Heebner by General Dynamics Corp., and the subsequent award 11 months later of the $4 billion contract to General Dynamics to build the Stryker.

As a top assistant to Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, Heebner played a significant role in drumming up procurement funding and support for Shinseki's plan to transform the Army, which included the Stryker. In October 1999, only three months before Heebner retired, Shinseki's "Army Vision" statement called for an interim armored brigade: "We are prepared to move to an all-wheel formation as soon as technology permits." General Dynamics' primary competitor and an unsuccessful bidder for the Stryker contract, United Defense, primarily manufactures tracked, rather than wheeled, armored vehicles.

In meetings and conference calls with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, then Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Steve Cambone, and then Department of Defense Comptroller Dov Zackheim, attended by POGO staff, Rumsfeld and the others made it clear they were not interested in buying more than four brigades of Strykers. However, the Army and Congress were pushing twice that number – eight brigades, they said.

"The Army should not put inadequately tested equipment in the field, as it creates a false impression that the troops are properly equipped to fight in combat.  The Army should speed up the process of deploying the proven M113's armored personnel carriers that are sitting out of harm's way while the Stryker is being showcased in Iraq," said Senior Defense Investigator Eric Miller.

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms. POGO's investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, open, and ethical federal government.

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