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Project on Government Oversight




Statement on the Army's New Stryker Video

April 21, 2005 


"In a time of war, there is no legitimate reason for the Army to spend money on promotional propagandistic videos. This video includes 'so-called' testimonials which can not be taken seriously. The verdict is in. Behind closed doors, soldiers and commanders raised serious issues about the performance of the Stryker. The only question left is whether these issues have been adequately addressed. Rather than spending funds on promotional videos, the Army should be fixing these problems."


Last month, the Project On Government Oversight posted on its web site a report by the Center for Army Lessons Learned on the Stryker Armored Vehicle.

Today the Associated Press filed the following story on the Army's digital videotape defending the Stryker.

Army: Stryker Has Proven Its Worth
By Robert Burns, AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON - Citing videotaped testimonials from soldiers in Iraq, the Army on Thursday returned fire in a battle with critics of its Stryker troop-carrying vehicle, which some say inadequately protects soldiers.

The Army says the Stryker has proven its worth in numerous combat engagements, although its own think tank, the Center for Army Lessons Learned, found numerous design flaws and other problems.

When the Army center's study of the Stryker's performance in Iraq received news coverage in late March, Army officials mounted a public defense of the 19-ton, eight-wheeled vehicle. Some see it as a forerunner of a new generation of lighter, more mobile Army combat vehicles.

Taking its campaign a step farther, the Army distributed to news organizations a digital videotape that it said was produced by soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., which spent a year in Iraq and was the first unit to deploy the Stryker in combat.

Another Stryker unit, the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, is now in Iraq, using the same vehicles.

The video depicts numerous Strykers on patrol in northern Iraq, which was the 3rd Brigade's area of responsibility, including one dramatic scene showing a large roadside bomb destroying a Stryker. The vehicle commander, Staff Sgt. Michael Randolph, is shown on the tape saying that he had been blown out of the Stryker. The tape indicates that the worst injury in that attack was a broken arm.

A battalion commander, Lt. Col. Eric Kurilla, said that between October 2003 and January 2005 his unit's Strykers sustained 16 direct hits from roadside bombs and 36 direct hits from rocket-propelled grenades.

"I've not lost a soldier life, limb or eyesight" from any of those attacks, Kurilla said. "We have a lot of soldiers alive today because of these vehicles."

Sgt. 1st Class Robert Bowman said he has confident in the Stryker. "It's brought me and my boys safe and alive to carry out the next mission," he said.

The Stryker has been a subject of controversy from its inception in 1999, particularly among some in Congress and in the Army who question the wisdom of moving away from more heavily armored tracked vehicles like tanks in favor of swifter, more lightly armored vehicles.

One critic is the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group in Washington, which is using the Internet to solicit comments from soldiers in Iraq who have operated with the Stryker.

Eric Miller, who has led the Project on Government Oversight scrutiny of the Stryker, said in an interview Thursday that he considers the Army's vigorous public defense of the Stryker to be suspicious. He thinks it might indicate the Army feels vulnerable on this issue.

The Army think tank report, written in December, found a number of problems with the Stryker. Among them:

  • The weapon system does not shoot accurately when the Stryker is moving.

  • Troops cannot fasten their seat belts when they are wearing bulky body armor.

  • Computer systems for communications, intelligence and other systems have malfunctioned in the desert heat because of air conditioning problems.

  • An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Kevin Curry, said none of the study's findings was a surprise. "Many of the improvements were in progress of implementation or had been completed" before the study was completed, Curry said.

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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