By Staff Sgt. Ricardo BranchSeptember 14, 2011
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, "Warriors," 25th Infantry Division welcomed the return of the Stryker fighting vehicle during a vehicle issue Sept. 13, here.
The Warrior Brigade returned from a 12-month deployment in Iraq three months ago, but without its original vehicles. Those Stryker vehicles were shipped from Kuwait directly to Alabama during the redeployment process. The brigade will now draw newly overhauled Strykers that were turned in by 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division and overhauled during the past year. This system of turning in old and drawling newly overhauled vehicles allows units to receive equipment synchronized with their deployment timeline and the Army's Force Generation or ARFORGEN cycle and train up process.
"Our Stryker vehicles play a key role in moving our Soldiers across the battlefield," said Maj. Patrick Roddy, operations officer, 2nd BCT. "Bringing them back and getting them back in the hands of the unit truly sets conditions for us to begin training again."
The newly overhauled vehicles, which were retrofitted and updated over a period of two years, were slotted to replace the Warrior Brigade's aging fleet of battle-tested vehicles upon redeployment.
"These vehicles came from Aston, Alabama, where they were serviced and reset," said Max Stritzel, a Stryker mechanic with General Dynamics. "In reset, the entire vehicle was taken apart, and all the systems were checked for serviceability, updated, and repaired to Army standard for handoff today."
The modifications to the Warrior Brigade Stryker fleet include: updated blast seats, airhorns, an updated remote video surveillance system camera, and a new suspension system.
"Right now these Strykers have better survivability than the previous vehicles used by this brigade," said Stritzel. "They are a big step-up to the older model, and one version away from the double blast V hull, which is gradually being fielded into the Army."
He said the changes to the vehicles will provide increased protection to Soldiers while making the vehicle more effective in executing its mission.
"These modifications are current to what the Strykers are using in Afghanistan," said Stritzel. "We've had a lot of praise thus far on the modifications. Deployed Soldiers are conducting a wide variety of missions and reporting the new seats, cameras and suspension are great."
He explained the updated Stryker will provide improved safety to passengers, which gives Soldiers more trust and confidence in the vehicle.
If a Soldier rides in the updated Stryker, he'll sit on improved seats, which will absorb the impact of improvised explosive devices, said Strizel. This allows the Soldier to ride safely, and be in a position to walk away with fewer injuries from vehicle rollovers and explosions.
During the hand off, Soldiers inspected the equipment that arrived with the Strykers and conducted preventive maintenance checks on the vehicles before embarking on a short road test through Schofield to perform function checks.
"I drove a Stryker in Iraq, and they handled pretty well over there," said Spc. Matthew Mulac, a Stryker vehicle driver with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT. "A lot of the things I saw remained pretty much the same, however, there are some changes to the seating and suspension system, which we'll get a better feel for as we use them."
Mulac went on to echo the feelings of the Soldiers present about receiving the Strykers. He's confident that the updated vehicles will perform as expected, and looks forward to using them to train new Soldiers on Stryker operations.
"It feels good to have them again," Mulac said. "They look new and we can't wait to take them to the field, maybe set up some of the 50 caliber machine guns and see what they can do. Before today, we were doing a lot of classroom training but now we can begin the hands-on training."
Following the Stryker draw, the Warrior Brigade moves forward in preparation to begin their individual, crew, and unit training in the coming months.
"Bringing Strykers back into the formation is a key task; however, to ensure that we begin training properly we need to ensure the training we conduct is properly resourced and trained with the appropriate leaders," said Roddy. "It varies by unit, but the initial process is getting them back into the formation so we can start training."