Depot completes overhaul of first Stryker vehicle back from war

Rachael Scarborough King
Star Staff Writer
Published: June 30, 2006

BYNUM – The first Stryker infantry vehicle to be sent back from Iraq with combat damage is ready to return to the war zone. Officials at the Anniston Army Depot rolled out the refurbished vehicle, which required a total overhaul, for a news conference Thursday.

“We’re bringing out the first piece of equipment, the first Stryker system that has been reset here at Anniston Army Depot that has been in the hands of the soldiers and doing the nation’s business,” Anniston Army Depot Commander Col. Alexander Raulerson said.

The Stryker is a light-armor vehicle that is produced in Anniston through a partnership between the depot and General Dynamic Land Systems. Production of the Stryker vehicle began in September 2001.

The vehicle on display Thursday is the first completed of 16 combat-damaged Strykers being repaired at the depot right now. It was in Iraq for about two years before its return for maintenance.

“This is the vehicle that proofed out a new process to the depot,” Raulerson said. “We brought this … back to a serviceable vehicle that can be returned to soldiers in a like-new condition.”

Michael Viggato, deputy program manager of the Stryker Brigade Combat Team, said soldiers report back “how safe they feel in this vehicle.”

“It looks like a brand-new vehicle,” Viggato said of the newly refurbished Stryker. “They won’t know the difference, and that gives them confidence.”

Concerns were raised last year about the safety of the lighter, quieter vehicle, which critics said did not offer as much protection as a tank. An Army group, the Center for Army Lessons Learned, found several problems, including design flaws. But the Army countered with a report saying the Stryker is safe.

“Before this there was a gap in the Army between light infantry and heavy brigade … (The Stryker) was really addressing a hole in the Army,” Viggato said. “It really doesn’t replace anything, it’s a new capability that we’re giving to the soldiers.”

It costs from $225,000 to $250,000 to overhaul a Stryker, said Joan Gustafson, the depot’s spokeswoman. By comparison, a new Stryker costs between $1.3 million and $4 million, depending on its configuration. The Stryker has 10 variations, such as the infantry carrier, mobile-gun system, and medical-evacuation vehicle.

Viggato said the government plans to buy seven brigade units worth of Strykers, or just under 2,700 vehicles.

The vehicle on display Thursday now will be delivered to Fort Lewis in Washington and most likely will be sent back to the Middle East.

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