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The views expressed in FMSO publications and reports are those of the
authors and do not necessarily represent the official policy or position of the
Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

THE BEAR FACTS:


Russians Appraise the Stryker
Brigade Concept
by Mr. Les Grau, Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS.
And Elena Stoyanov
This article was previously published in
Infantry
November-December 2004
THE BEAR FACTS:
Russians Appraise the Stryker Brigade Concept
LESTER W. GRAU
ELENA STOYANOV

T
he Stryker brigade concept is a matter of some interest The BMD is just too cramped and uncomfortable for long-term
to the Russian Army, which has inherited a long tradition patrolling missions. Russian troops in Chechnya use a combination
of using wheeled personnel carriers in concert with of BMPs and BTRs. The BMPs are employed for anticipated
tracked personnel carriers. In Soviet times, Motorized Rifle combat, while the BTRs are used more for patrolling and
Divisions normally had three motorized rifle regiments, a tank administrative movements where a truck or jeep would be at risk.
regiment and an artillery regiment. Two of the motorized rifle The Russians are interested in how other countries employ
regiments were mounted on wheeled armored personnel carriers tracked and wheeled troop carriers. The June 2004 issue of the
(BTRs), while the third was mounted on tracked armored personnel Russian Foreign Military Review carried the following article,
carriers (BMPs). BMPs were recognized as the tougher, more which was titled The Formation of the Mechanized Stryker
effective combat vehicle, but even the Soviet Army occasionally Brigade in the U.S. Army:
had to watch its rubles. The wheeled BTRs were used on secondary
attack routes or as a follow-and support force while tracked BMPs In 2003, the U.S. Army formed its first Stryker Mechanized
were used for the main break-thorough attack in conjunction with Brigade, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division based at Fort
the tank regiment. The cheaper wheeled carriers were a cost-cutting Lewis, Washington. It is part of the transition to a new type of
measure. army.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian Army The documents and regulations governing this force, its tactics,
continued this TO&E (table of organization and equipment), but TOE, armaments and equipment were developed in 1999. The
formed a special peace keeping division. The 27th Guard mission was to form, in the first decade of the 21st Century, a
Motorized Rifle Division kept their BTRs and BMPs, but stored combined arms unit capable of rapid deployment and decisive
their artillery and tanks. They used their BTRs primarily for peace action in any part of the world during combat or peacetime.
keeping roles. The Russians saw the peace keeping division as The Stryker Brigade has a headquarters element, a HHC, three
a patrolling and stability unit, not a combat unit, so the prominence infantry battalions, a reconnaissance battalion, an artillery
of the more road-bound wheeled carriers made sense. battalion, a support battalion and four separate companies
When the Russians joined NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovina, they antitank, military intelligence, engineer and signal.
contributed an airborne regiment. The regiment was mounted on The TOE strength is 3,614 personnel. The brigade has 308
the cramped, air-droppable BMD tracked armored personnel Stryker armored vehicles, 12 towed M198 155mm howitzers, 66
carriers. Once the ground situation settled, mortars (l20mm, 81mm and 60mm), 10 TOW-2
the Russian regiment was augmented ATGM launchers, 121 Javelin
with a number of BTRs. ATGM launchers, and three

38 INFANTRY November-December 2004


Shadow 200 UAVs. (See Organization reconnaissance platoon mounted on three are equipped for reconnaissance, command,
chart and Personnel and Key Equipment Fox Stryker vehicles. engineering support, artillery spotting, NBC
Chart). The artillery battalion has 290 personnel reconnaissance and medical evacuation as
There are 121 personnel in the HHC and for fire support to the brigade elements. It well as mortar carriers and anti-tank
brigade staff The headquarters supports the has a headquarters, an HHB and two vehicles.
brigade commander in directing the artillery batteries as well as a target Despite its lack of M1 Abrams tanks and
subordinate units in peace and war. It is acquisition platoon. M2 and M3 Bradleys, American military
organized into a command group and seven Each artillery battery has two firing specialists do not consider that the Stryker
sections-intelligence, training, command platoons, each platoon having three M198 brigade is any less effective than the US
and control, air movement, fire control, 155mm towed howitzers. The target heavy brigades. The mechanized rifle
nonlethal weapons employment, acquisition platoon has the Q-36 and Q-37 companies have the minimum essential fire
communications and computers. The HHC radar. power due to their organic platoons of
supports the brigade staff. It has two groups The brigade support battalion has 338 Mobile Gun Systems armed with a 105mm
of liaison officers and five sections: personnel with a headquarters and three cannon plus their mortar sections and a
command, personnel, support, signal and companies; an HHC and distribution, a sniper groups.
medical. maintenance and a medical. The brigades ability to conduct
The mechanized infantry battalions have The antitank company consists of 53 reconnaissance and command subordinate
691 personnel each. They are the primary personnel who destroy armored vehicles and units is greatly enhanced by the inclusion
combat units of the brigade, capable of enemy strong points. The company has three of an organic cavalry squadron and an MI
conducting all types of combat as well as antitank platoons and three sections company. These units have the Shadow
peace-support missions. Each battalion has headquarters, fire direction and medical. 200 UAV system and a command and
a headquarters, a HHC and three Each antitank platoon has three TOW-2 control computerized information system
mechanized infantry companies. launchers mounted on Stryker vehicles. which is under development.
The HHC has a reconnaissance, mortar The military intelligence company has 67 The Brigades TO&E was determined and
and medical platoon as well as a sniper personnel that conduct reconnaissance, the precise dimensions of the equipment was
squad. The reconnaissance platoon is gather data and analyze it for the brigade. designed in order to fit in all models of US
mounted on four reconnaissance Strykers. The company has a command group and two transportation aviation, including the C-130
The mortar platoon has four M286 120mm platoons. Each platoon is responsible for a Hercules. This significantly enhances the
and four M224 60mm mortars. separate brigade axis. mobility of the brigade. According to
Every mechanized infantry company has The engineer company has 120 personnel American experts, the unit and its equipment
three mechanized infantry platoons and a to support the brigade. It has a headquarters can be moved from the American continent
fire support platoon with a mortar and a and three engineer-sapper platoons and an to any region of the world within 96 hours.
sniper section. The mechanized infantry engineer support platoon. Beside The most apparent weakness of a mobile
platoon has four Stryker vehicles and three engineering equipment, the company has unit is its inadequate combat power for
Javelin ATGM launchers. The fire four Javelin ATGM launchers. penetrating a prepared defense. Second, is
support platoon has three Mobile Gun The signal company has 74 personnel its high vulnerability to artillery fire and
System Stryker vehicles and its mortar and supports the brigade commander, staff anti-tank systems during combat with a well-
section has two M286 120mm and two M224 and brigade elements with various signal armed opponent. The US Army Senior
60mm mortars. support. It has a headquarters, two signal Command feels that these weaknesses can
The cavalry squadron (reconnaissance, platoons and a support platoon. be offset by aviation support from the USAF,
surveillance and targeting battalion) has The main organization difference in the USN and coalition air forces. In addition,
428 personnel to support the commander TOE structure of the Stryker brigade is that the brigade can be reinforced with tanks,
and brigade units with intelligence, it has replaced all the heavily- armored artillery, air defense systems and army
targeting combined arms fires and assessing tracked vehicles (the M1 Abrams tank, the aviation from division or corps. According
the results in near-real time. The battalion M2 and M3 Bradley Fighting and to American experts, the real assessment of
is organized into a headquarters, HHC, reconnaissance vehicles, and the Paladin the Stryker brigades combat potential will
three reconnaissance troops and a one M109A6 self-propelled howitzer) with the come only after it has fulfilled its mission
electronic surveillance troop. wheeled armored LA V-III vehicle, the to stabilize Iraq. One brigade has been
Each reconnaissance troop has three Stryker, and the towed M198 howitzer. The stationed in Iraq since January 2004.
reconnaissance platoons, each of which is weight of each of these systems does not The military leadership of the U.S. plans
mounted on four reconnaissance Strykers exceed 19 tons. to field four more active-duty Stryker
each with Javelin ATGM launcher. Each The Stryker is based on the Canadian brigades by 2009. They will be the 1st
platoon also has a mortar section with two LAV-III Kodiak and is named in honor of Brigade, 25th Light Infantry Division (Fort
120mm M286mm mortars. two US soldiers, Stewart and Robert Stryker- Lewis, Washington), the 172nd Separate
The electronic surveillance troop has a who were noted for their service in World Infantry Brigade (Fort Wainwright,
headquarters and three platoons: a UAV War II and Vietnam. The Stryker Brigade Alaska), the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment
platoon with the Shadow 200 launcher has two primary types of Stryker-LA V-III (Fort Polk, Louisiana) and 2nd Brigade,
and three aircraft; a ground sensor platoon troop carriers and LA V-III Mobile Gun 25th Light Infantry Division (Schofield
with four GSR radar and a NBC Systems. Other specialized Stryker vehicles Barracks, Hawaii). There will be another

November-December 2004 INFANTRY 39


Figure 1 - Stryker Brigade Organization

Stryker Brigade formed from the 56th Infantry Brigade of the the stand-alone nature of the Stryker brigade is not accepted. The
28th Infantry Division (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of the Army Russians still see this as a underpowered brigade that needs
National Guard. During the course of the transformation, there augmentation and lots of air support to carry out a mission when
can be corrections made in TO&E, they can add an organic army confronted with a well-armed, well-positioned enemy. Third, the
aviation battalion, improve the personnel and equipment mix and air transport issue is not as important to the Russians. Russia is a
modernize the equipment, etc. continental power. In the days of the Soviet Union, they resolved
As a next step, the U.S. Army plans to incorporate the Future their air transport issues by building wing-in-ground effect aircraft
Combat Systems (FCS) vehicle as part of its transformation capable of carrying the standard tanks, self-propelled howitzers
process. The U.S. Army will form another new type brigade, based and armored personnel carriers. Their philosophy was to build a
on its Stryker experience, by 2010. large enough aircraft to hold and move the equipment, so that the
optimum combined-arms combat unit could be delivered. They
The TO&E of the Stryker brigade changes rapidly and the see the U.S. move as sacrificing combat power and soldier
Russian article is slightly out-of-date. However, it has captured protection for the sole purpose of fitting into existing, aging
the main points and spent a lot of time on details. The article also airframes.
ran pictures and specifications of most of the vehicles and weapons The proof of the Stryker brigade and wheeled personnel carrier
in the Stryker brigade. controversy will be in combat. Russia is currently engaged in
The Stryker brigade is similar in size and number of vehicles counterinsurgency operations in Chechnya. The United States is
to the old Soviet BTR regiment. The Soviet BTR regiment had engaged in counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
three motorized rifle battalions, an organic tank battalion, howitzer Counterinsurgency places special demands on conventional forces
battalion, reconnaissance company, NBC reconnaissance and that eventually lead to changes in training, tactics, force structure
decontamination platoon, engineer company, signal company, and equipment. Consequently, the Russians are watching the
maintenance company, transport company, medical company, performance of the Stryker brigade in northwest Iraq with almost
supply platoon and band. Much of the combined-arms structure as much interest as the U.S. Both countries have a lot to learn
of the Stryker brigade is comparable to that of the older BTR from one another as they prepare forces to meet all the challenges
regiment, although the Soviet regiment had much more firepower of the future.
and the US model has much more intelligence-gathering capability.
The Russians realize that their BTR regiments lacked breakthrough
power and were very vulnerable to enemy artillery and anti-tank Lieutenant Colonel Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army Retired is a retired
infantryman and Soviet Foreign Area Officer who has published widely on
fires. Consequently, BTRs were never used for the main attack. tactics, the Soviet-Afghan War and the Central Asia Region. Author of three
They see similar vulnerabilities in the Stryker brigade. It is book on Afghanistan, he is working on a fourth. He is a Vietnam veteran who
interesting to note what is missing from the Russian Stryker article. has also served as an Army civilian in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is a military
First, there is no real discussion or excitement about using analyst for the Foreign Military Studies Office and the current Central Command
Fellow.
information technology as electronic judo to outperform an Elena Stoyanov is a Navy Reserve cryptologist and linguist with native
opponent and substitute electrons for armor plate and fire power. fluency in Bulgarian and professional credentials in Russian and Serbo-
The presence of advanced computers and the eventual delivery of Croatian. She currently works for the Florida Department of Health. She heads
advanced computerized C4ISR is noted, but not developed. Second, her own interpreter/translation business.

40 INFANTRY November-December 2004