Sunday, February 25, 2007

Perspective: Stryker team key to Iraq security plan

The Stryker vehicle system is designed to be a troop transport that's as deadly as a tank, as swift as a Humvee and highly mobile for quick deployment into combat.

BAGHDAD — In any other city, the sight of an old man standing next to a can on the side of a crowded street would go unnoticed. In Baghdad, it was enough to make U.S. Army Spc. Aurelio Cazares slow down his armored Stryker for a closer look and alert his gunner.

The vehicle's gunner fixed his viewfinder on the man and the object and zoomed in, just as a sedan stopped in front of them, blocking the view and adding further suspense to the moment. Then, the car pulled away, the old man crossed the road, and the Stryker's high-tech remote weapons system, which can detect heat in an object and determine the presence of explosives, confirmed that the can was harmless.

The Stryker moved on, and Cazares relaxed.

There aren't many things that worry him as he steers the 22-ton troop carrier, which resembles an oversized and massively overloaded camper van, through Baghdad's streets. Its steel-and-ceramic armor is far stronger than a Humvee's, making it the safest troop transporter by far on roads littered with explosives and snipers.

Nothing, though, can guarantee protection from some of the armor-piercing explosives plaguing U.S. forces in Iraq. Since August, three men from Cazares' 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, from the Army's 2nd Infantry Division, have died in such attacks.

Read the rest at the LA Times