The Stryker Mothership
New Wars is an unashamed fan of the Stryker brigades and their premier “interim” combat vehicle of the same name. Recently Armed Forces Journal sent Major General Robert Scales to visit with the troops where he learned some interesting things about the future of land warfare and the failure of the FCS:
The high point of my visit to Iraq was the day I spent with the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry “Manchus” at Taji. These soldiers were the first to be equipped both with the Army’s newest mounted vehicle, the Stryker, and with Land Warrior, the Army’s first attempt to equip the individual soldier with a networking device connecting him to his buddies, his leaders and the outside world. I discovered that it was the synergies that came from combining these two cutting-edge systems that empowered the Manchus to fight in a different way.
My visit happened on a very hot day. Two soldiers waited to greet me as they stood alongside their Stryker, bent over by the crushing burden of more than 100 pounds of gear. I walked around the vehicle followed by one of the soldiers. As I peered into the crew compartment, he leaned over and whispered:
“Hey, sir, know what we call this thing?”
“No, what?” I asked.
“We call it the Mothership.” He said as he glanced at his buddy with a knowing grin.
We use the naval analogy of mothership often enough here, it is interesting to see it viewed in the context of land warfare. The principle is the same, allowing the warships to cast off unnecessary impediments like excessive fuel, armament, and cargo, so they can concentrate on what warships do best, which is fight. And as we often contend hulls in the water for the navy is boots on the ground for the Army, so we see here the opposite is also true:
Today’s soldiers walk into battle with more than they can carry. Studies have shown that the practical limit of what a soldier can carry into sustained combat is a third of his body weight, or about 40 pounds. Body armor alone today approaches this limit. Other essential accoutrements such as weapons, ammunition, food and water push the soldier’s load above half his weight. A Manchu soldier equipped with Land Warrior is burdened by about 120 pounds. The Manchus’ experience with Land Warrior shows that to gain a significant advantage over the enemy, tomorrow’s soldier will be required to add the weight of many technological devices, to include access to the network and the ability to carry and control sensors. The bottom line is that overburdened ground forces fighting in a country as inhospitable and vast as Afghanistan, whether heavy or light, Army, Marine or SOF, must ride to war. They are all to one degree or another tied to a mounted tether.
It has been a concern about the excessive weights our soldiers are forced to lug into combat these days. I have even considered proposing a return of pack mules to bring some relief to our beleaguered warriors! Appears the troops themselves may have found a way.