WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, outfitted with a 30mm cannon, was delivered to the Army Thursday.

The upgraded Stryker vehicle will be known as the Dragoon, the name of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. The prototype also features a new fully-integrated commander's station, upgraded driveline componentry and hull modifications, according to a press release from Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems.

"It's important to realize the genesis of this event," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, speaking at the General Dynamics Land Systems Maneuver Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

Following the 2015 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Army leaders in Europe "identified a capability gap that threatened our forces in theater," Allyn explained. "The Russians, it turns out, had upgraded and fielded significant capabilities while we were engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Army leaders recognized that existing Stryker weaponry placed U.S. forces at "unacceptable risk," he said.

The Urgent Operational Needs statement submitted in March 2015 resulted in a directed Stryker lethality requirement, one that included an accelerated acquisition effort to integrate the 30mm canon on the vehicles, he said.

Fielding to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe will begin in May 2018, which represents "a near-record time from concept to delivery," according to Allyn.

"This is an example of what is possible when government, military and industry leaders unite as one team," he continued, describing the collaboration between General Dynamics Land Systems and PEO GCS.

The goal, he noted, was to offer forces on the ground the best equipment and protection possible.

"It's all about the people on the ground, serving and sacrificing on our behalf, each and every day, around the globe," he said.

According to PEO GCS, the Army has provided programmatic direction to initiate the first two elements of the Stryker Fleet Lethality strategy: providing an under-armor Javelin capability for the Stryker and improving the capabilities of the Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle to better locate and engage targets via networked fires.

NATION AT WAR

"It's important to know we are a nation at war right now, and our Army remains globally engaged," Allyn said. "Today, over 8,000 Soldiers are in Afghanistan, providing enabling support to an emerging force, fighting a persistent insurgent threat."

Nearly 5,000 more are in the Middle East, supporting the fight against the Islamic State, "a ruthless force, intent on destabilizing the region and the globe."

More than 33,000 Soldiers are assigned or allocated to Europe "to assure our allies and to deter a potentially grave threat to freedom," he continued.

Nearly 80,000 are assigned to U.S. Pacific Command, including 20,000 in South Korea, where they are prepared "to respond tonight with our (Republic of Korea) allies," he added.

Supporting the fight around the globe means having the best technologies for Soldiers to ensure overmatch against future adversaries in an increasingly complex and dangerous world where the threat is often "elusive and ambiguous," he said.

This environment will place a premium on unmanned systems, lethal technologies and rapid maneuver capabilities that the new Stryker system exemplifies, Allyn concluded.