Questions are again swirling about whether the Stryker vehicle is capable of handling the rough terrain of Afghanistan. Foreign Policy puts it even more bluntly: Was it a mistake to send a Stryker brigade to Afghanistan?
Fort Lewis’ 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division deployed with 350 Strykers. Twenty-one have been lost to roadside bombs. Soldiers returning for their two weeks or leave (or back home on deployment) describe vehicles that can’t effectively handle the bombs Afghan militants are planting underneath dirt roads. National Public Radio, also along with 5/2, was along on one of the fatal missions.
Of course, people were asking the same things several years ago when bombs were ripping through Strykers in Iraq. Bomb-related deaths there are way down for two reasons: the introduction of the Mine Resistant Ambushed Protected behicle and a better crackdown on the network that plants the bombs in the first place.
The brigade commander, Col. Harry Tunnell, told Washington Times that his brigade most needs better intelligence, surveillance and reconaissance capabilities to disrupt those networks.
He said he understands the concerns of his soldiers, he told the paper, but “it’s up to the American people to answer whether the lives already lost are worth the cost so we can accomplish the objective of the mission.”
Of course, that’s probably not much comfort for the joes of 5/2 who still worry about a bomb detonating near them. The Strykers have earned a new nickname in Kandahar province.
They call them “Kevlar coffins.”