Strykers in Alaska could be scrapped for parts, says Army secretary

As Army planners move quickly to convert service formations in Alaska to the 11th Airborne Division this summer, the fate of about 320 Strykers in the region is uncertain. But they could end up being used as spares for other units in the force.

“We are considering potentially removing the Strykers from Alaska and if we do, we will take them and look at which ones we can reuse elsewhere or use for parts,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters. legislators at a Senate Appropriations Committee. hearing Tuesday.

As part of the force’s recent focus on Arctic warfare and the shift from counter-terrorism to conventional combat tactics, it is bringing its 12,000 troops to Alaska under one banner — the 11th Airborne Division. , and ditches the 25th Infantry Division patch commonly associated with Jungle Warfare.

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Currently, there are two major formations in Alaska: the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The first is a mechanized infantry force using Strykers as their primary combat platform; the latter is his paratrooper element. The region’s headquarters element, US Army Alaska, would also be reorganized into the new division.

Strykers are typically used to transport troops and can provide support for ground assaults with weapons such as the M2 .50 caliber machine gun. Army planners launched numerous efforts to bolster the Stryker’s technological and offensive capabilities, trying to make it a relevant platform for decades.

“When the Stryker formation was originally created, it was designed to be an interim force, really a bridge between what was then the legacy military and future combat systems,” Lt. Gen. Gary said. Volesky, who was the commanding general of 1st Corps and has since retired, said in 2019 at that year’s Maneuver Warfighter Conference. “Today, this force is no longer interim. This force is going to be with the army until 2040.”

The service’s Future Combat Systems program, which was supposed to create a replacement for the Strykers, was canned in 2009 after at least $32 billion was dumped into a range of futuristic hardware that was a long way from entering service. The program’s cancellation coincided with the Department of Defense’s move away from conventional warfare capabilities and towards a full focus on countering insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Strykers are not built for the arctic climate and are unable to operate reliably in temperatures below minus 65 degrees Fahrenheit, benchmark commanders in Alaska have set for the equipment. Strykers are also too large to easily navigate narrow roads and, being wheeled vehicles, they cannot be taken off-road in a snowy environment and driven up steep hills.

Instead, the Army wants to buy 13 cold weather all-terrain vehicles, or CATVs, as part of its 2023 budget proposal for Alaska, which still needs to be approved by Congress. These tracked vehicles can be taken off-road and can be much more compatible with the freezing environment. That same budget also includes $671 million for Stryker upgrades for other units.

— Steve Beynon can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Breakdown, torn clothes and dead batteries: the army enters the Arctic, but always tries to understand what the soldiers need

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