US Army and the Marianas Islands: A Stryker near you


U.S. Army Stryker vehicles made their way to Guam recently as part of an Army and Air Force operation to move equipment and people across the Pacific Ocean in response to hypothetical war situations that could flare up in the western Pacific region and beyond.

The Guam media showed pictures of fellow Chamorros who are assigned to the specific Army Stryker unit arriving in Guam. The governor and locally stationed military leaders were there to meet the Army commander in charge of this operation upon his arrival at the airport. 

One reason the Army is coming to Guam is to figure out how quickly it can move wheeled vehicle resources across vast distances that have the necessary features and components to oversee, direct, and control land-based tactical operations. This specific operation, like other military operations, is prohibitively expensive, but in many ways needed. 

What is a Stryker? 

A Stryker is a wheeled military combat vehicle that supports short-term ground tactical operations for the U.S. Army. The wheeled componentry of the Stryker makes it more able to move in and around a variety of terrain, unlike heavier, tracked vehicle weapons of war, such as tanks. The Stryker is an asset intended to transport and support Army infantry soldiers in ways that enable these people to then leave the vehicle and proceed forward and closer to their designated military land objective(s). 

Stryker vehicles are built and configured differently based on what they are intended to achieve in a real-time land war. Some are built to carry mortars, some are built to detect local area contamination caused by nuclear, chemical, or biological substances, some are built to act as onsite tactical command centers directing operations, while other Strykers are built to move injured soldiers away from the battlefield. 

Strykers are used by the United States Army, the United States Air Force, and other militaries found throughout the world.

What value do Strykers add when it comes to preparing for war in the western Pacific and Asiatic regions? 

The answer may be “not much.” 

One problem with the Stryker vehicles is that they are not properly equipped to directly engage in a fight with heavier kinds of land warfighting machines such as tanks, which have more destructive weapons able to destroy Stryker vehicles. 
Strykers, however, tend to be somewhat effective at protecting military bases or used to transport people and resources over terrain that is not wide open such as denser urban settings. Yet in a region of the world where water and ocean define how wars are to be fought and won decisively, having large inventories of land based wheeled vehicles may have limited, or very limited warfighting utility and value. 

Strykers based out of Washington state

The folks coming from Washington state to Guam are part of brigade combat team formations which make up the U.S. Army’s I Corps, which sizes up to around 100,000 soldiers. The word “brigade” is a pillar term used to describe elements of the United States Army. Each Army brigade has about 4,000 people and the Army has almost 90 brigades across its entire warfighting organization worldwide. There are almost 10 brigades Army wide that are organized around Stryker vehicles as main warfighting assets. These entities are referred to as Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. 

Because of money issues, and heavy wear and tear associated with use during war over the past two decades, Strykers are now being reconstituted and repackaged to meet so-called readiness mission sets to support U.S. Army warfighting objectives worldwide. 

The Army has had many challenges with how to best use these medium sized vehicles and continues to fight an uphill battle on how to optimize usage of these multimillion-dollar assets. 

Where Strykers may be headed—the Philippines

Strykers may end up being brought to the Republic of the Philippines and used in the Philippines on a recurring basis because the United States and the Philippines recently resumed talks on base construction facility matters for American military force use and operations in the country.  

This ongoing development is founded on military cooperation agreements between the Philippines and the United States concluded over the past decade. Currently efforts are being made to best figure out how to store and place a variety of weapons and supplies in the Philippines in anticipation of America having a larger renewed presence in the Philippines concentrated in five separate locations. 

People remain the most important resource that the US Army can ever have

Beyond Stryker vehicles and the unique challenges facing this wheeled vehicle community, what remains most important are the sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, fathers, and uncles that have served and continue to serve in the U.S. Army worldwide. Thousands of Chamorros and Pacific Islanders have worn the uniform of the American Army, and many have distinguished themselves in a variety of ways and forms. 

As the Pentagon reviews, restarts, and at times fumbles Army resources and programs, it is in our collective core interest to remember that the Army has taken on a tremendous role in fighting America’s wars both past and present. Those serving in the Army and specifically those serving in Stryker Brigades must never be forgotten for what they do. 

Rick Arriola Perez | Author
Rick Arriola Perez is a U.S. military veteran who has worked for the U.S. Department of Defense, the Bank of Hawaii, and the government of Guam. He holds several degrees including ones from UCLA and the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Rick is passionate about national security and foreign affairs in the Pacific Asia region and runs a blogsite called Guam Affairs at guamaffairs.substack.com. For more information, contact Perez at rickp7839@gmail.com.
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