Fort Benning's 3rd Brigade gets Strykers for medical evacuations

Fort Benning’s 3rd Brigade is the Army’s first heavy combat team to employ the Stryker Medical Evacuation Vehicle.

The Army’s first armored vehicle since the Bradley came aboard in the 1980s, the Stryker, which is named for two Medal of Honor recipients, may also be its most versatile combat machine.

Its chassis’ modular design supports a wide range of variants, prime of which is the Infantry Carrier Vehicle. While it can be configured to serve at least eight purposes, from fire support to mortar carrier, the version the 3rd Brigade is receiving is the armored ambulance.

“We’ll begin about two to two and a half months of training with four of the brigade’s battalions,” said Faatau Togia, the supervisor for Operational New Equipment Training, the group which will train personnel from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Battalion; the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment; the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion; and the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment.

In all, the brigade, which is expected to be deployed late this year to either Iraq, where it has served three tours since 2003, or Afghanistan, will receive 30 of the MEVs.

The ambulances, said Togia, are capable of crossing today’s battlefield at speeds up to 60 miles per hour, thus improving the survivability chances of injured soldiers.

“Medics will be able to perform minor surgery on board,” he said.

“There will be room for 10 injured soldiers, four on litters and six ambulatory. It’s equipped with on-board oxygen and is fully air conditioned.”

It is also capable of surviving 14.5mm ballistic and rocket propelled grenade hits.

One thing it can’t do, said Togia, is mount an offensive attack on the enemy.

“Ambulances are not allowed to carry weapons,” he said. “About all the crew can do is release smoke grenades.”

The majority of the Army’s Strykers are assigned to specific units, such as the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, at Fort Lewis.

Before now, they were only assigned to light and mobile combat teams throughout the Army.

The eight-wheeled Stryker, which was championed by then Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki, first saw combat in November 2003.