FORT BENNING, Ga. --- The Army is pressing ahead vigorously with efforts to make its Stryker Brigade Combat Teams more deadly and otherwise ready to take on large, modern adversaries on the battlefield, military experts said here Sept. 10 during the 2019 Maneuver Warfighter Conference.
The Stryker force accounts for nearly a third of the Army's Infantry forces, according to several speakers at the day's sessions.
Strykers have seen extensive service in the post-9/11 era, but the Army has seen a need to prepare them for the battlefield challenges they'd face in combat against near-peer military adversaries.
"It's all tied to that mission of meeting that near-peer competitor," said Col. Syd Hills, director of the Stryker Warfighter Forum. Hills was the speaker for a discussion of what's ahead for the Army's Stryker forces.
"Gotta keep up with the speed of war," said Hills.
Accordingly, the Army has undertaken a broad range of initiatives to shape the Stryker force of the future. Some upgrades involve weapons being added to the Stryker, including a 30-mm cannon that can train devastating fire on an enemy. Equipping Strykers with anti-tank missiles is another example of the push to increase Stryker lethality.
Some Strykers are equipped with a turreted 30-mm cannon, others with Javelin anti-tank missiles, and some with mortars, but there are also numerous Stryker variants that have been adapted to a broad variety of roles.
In addition, the Army is focused on adding sophisticated electronics that will enhance the Stryker's existing ability to communicate on the battlefield. Also in view are modifications of the Stryker's key parts, including such basics as tires, steering and engines, according to Col. Bill Venable, who gave the audience a detailed rundown of the Army's Stryker modernization effort.
Brigade Combat Teams, or BCTs, are the basic deployable fighting organization under the Army's current structure. A BCT is organized so it can be sent into combat as a self-sustaining fighting force that goes into battle with its own support elements, including artillery, engineer, medical, logistical and other units, rather than being dependent on a larger element, like a division, for that support.
There are several types of BCTs, including those that are predominantly infantry (IBCTs), armor (ABCTs), and those built around Stryker combat vehicles (SBCTs).
Fort Benning's Maneuver Center of Excellence is hosting the three-day conference, which runs Sept. 10 through 12. This year's conference theme is "The Brigade Combat Team: Readying for Large Scale Combat." The conference brings together senior and other military professionals for expert discussion of key issues, ideas and trends related to the Army's infantry and armor forces.
A Stryker Brigade Combat Team, or SBCT, is a fighting unit built around a core battle element composed of lightly-armored, eight-wheeled Stryker combat vehicles that can be equipped for various battlefield functions. The highly mobile Stryker can transport an infantry squad into battle, and can range over rugged, cross-country terrain, along roads, and can also operate in urban areas.