During conflict, control of the rivers is often vital to controlling a country. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers define Iraq. During the Iraq conflict, the resistance used these rivers as major lines of communication and supply. Yet, the United States and coalition forces never succeeded in dominating these rivers or establishing lasting presence on them. The U.S. Navy deployed a single squadron (12 boats and 200 sailors) for riverine operations in Iraq to control the 2,890 miles of the rivers. Even then, the squadron did not always patrol the rivers; rather it spent considerable time in the Delta and maintaining security on the vital Haditha Dam.
Since the time of Alexander the Great, the battle-ridden mountain ranges of Afghanistan have proven to be some of the most harsh and extreme environments in which empires, warlords, and countries waged war. From the initial Special Operations units deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to present day, countless units reported in their after action reviews (AARs) that the terrain significantly and adversely affected their Soldiers and missions. The rugged mountain terrain consistently challenged a unit’s mobility and its ability to resupply while significantly reducing equipment capabilities.
In December 2012, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) returned from a successful counterinsurgency (COIN) deployment to southern Afghanistan. Upon arriving to home station, our brigade made preparations to ready the formation for decisive action operations. Decisive action is defined as the concept of continuous, simultaneous offense, defense, and stability operations. Instead of purely focusing on COIN operations, as the force has done for the last 10 years, we had to become proficient across the full range of military operations.
Why did the Army create the Stryker vehicle? Army planners recognized the need to bridge the gap between our light forcible entry forces and our heavy formations based on experiences deploying to Bosnia. Early entry operations were, and are, important to our ability to answer our nation’s call. The Stryker brigade was designed to fulfill this requirement, but the Global War on Terrorism prevented early entry operations from being one of the key missions of the SBCT.1
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