YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash. -- 2nd Infantry Division Soldiers trained for three weeks here on the newest Stryker as part of a proof in practice engineering change proposal (ECP).

Legion Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team teamed up with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command (USAOTC) out of Fort Hood, Texas, as the first unit to test the Stryker Double V-Hull upgrades, also known as the Stryker DVH A1.

"This engineering change proposal is six years in the making to help increase the mobility performance, while maintaining survivability of the Stryker," said Roger Playle, General Dynamic's chief engineer for the project.

The operational test team, in close partnership with the Army Evaluation Center and the Legion Battalion, designed the test to capture a number of quantitative and qualitative data points such as Soldier feedback.

"Soldier feedback is critical to our testing," said Maj. Mindy Brown, USAOTC's assistant test officer. "Decision makers want to know what the Soldiers and commanders think of the system and how it helps them improve readiness."

"Another unique aspect of OTC is that our form of testing not only addresses the Army's modernization priority but also facilitates the improvement of the unit's readiness," she added.

Even individual Stryker teams learned how to use the equipment and how to employ it on the battlefield.

"This training has helped me learn how to move across the battlefield in a Stryker," said Spc. Trevor Hoffman a new vehicle commander assigned to A Company, 2-1 IN BN. "It has also taught us how we would set up our Stryker as a team and how we would move across the terrain in it."

Soldiers taking part in operational tests help identify ways to improve systems while allowing the Soldiers to help the Army.

"It makes me feel better knowing that the stuff I wanted to change on the Stryker or keep the same during testing will probably help me in the future or help others," Hoffman said.

Not only did their training include operating the Stryker, it taught Soldiers how to maneuver and fight as a battalion through multiple iterations in a rich field environment, complete with harsh terrain with sharp volcanic rock, steep hills and sagebrush.

"We went through a week-long training course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord with General Dynamics, and another week-long training course with our unit, but the terrain didn't require 8×8 wheel drive like here," said Pvt. Colton Stotts, a new Stryker driver assigned to A Company, 2-1 IN BN. "I learned how to use the 8×8 setting that wasn't needed for JBLM at Yakima.

"This training has got us more familiar with the Stryker by allowing us to drive and maintain it."

From the battalion commander down to the lowest ranking Soldier in the unit, all had positive things to say about helping the Army modernize the Stryker.

"ECP testing provides us the opportunity to conduct collective training in an expeditious environment at the battalion level, from exercising multiple levels of command posts and across all warfighting functions," said Lt. Col. Charles Ford, battalion commander of 2-1 IN BN. "Our overall unit readiness has improved."

"We have gotten a lot of repetition of different battle drills and driving experience for our young drivers and vehicle commanders," said Staff Sgt. Alex Stuckert, 2nd Platoon Sergeant with A Company, 2-1 IN BN, who has 5-and-a-half years in a Stryker unit and two combat deployments to Afghanistan under his belt.

"They are really starting to understand how the vehicle works, how to use and maneuver it, and how to trust the Stryker."

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About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

The U.S. Army Operational Test Command is based at West Fort Hood, Texas and its mission is about making sure that systems developed are effective in a Soldier's hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight. Test units and their Soldiers provide feedback, by offering input to improve upon existing and future systems with which Soldiers will ultimately use to train and fight.

USAOTC's Maneuver Test Directorate tests Armor, Infantry, and robotic systems as well as individual and crew served weapon systems. This includes the accompanying sights, combat uniforms, Soldier load bearing equipment, and personal protective systems for all military occupational specialties. MTD plans and conducts operational tests and reports on Systems-Under-Test in order to inform the evaluation process.