End of the Bradley?

| March 7, 2012 | 47 Comments

SnafuDude sends us a link to the Strategy Page which reports that one of the casualties of the Defense budget cuts is the M2-series Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. I was among the first squad leaders to lead a 10-man squad in the 26-ton Winnebago known as the Bradley back in 1983, I think. I was glad to see it come and replace the M113 Armored Personnel Carrier which was exactly that – just something to carry troops in. A squad leader had control over more firepower than ever in history. A coaxial 7.62 machine gun, a 25mm chain gun and anti-armor TOW missiles was added to the ten-man squad of infantrymen. It began a new era of battlefield supremacy for the US Army, and I was proud to be a part of it.

If we had faced Saddam Hussein’s army in 1991 with Jimmy Carter’s mechanized divisions, there might have been a different outcome because Saddam’s army out-matched our 1983 army. And our unit in Desert Storm had the oldest Bradleys in the theater and we experienced surprisingly few mechanical break downs because of the reliability of the Bradley IFV.

The Army’s reasoning for replacing the Bradley is it’s vulnerability to roadside bombs, according to Strategy Page;

The army is trying to come up with a new IFV design. The MRAP and Stryker are not adequate replacements because these wheeled vehicles have poor off-road capabilities. The design of the new GCV (Ground Combat Vehicle) is supposed to be ready by 2015, after which prototypes would be built and tested. At best, the army might have a new IFV by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, thousands of M-2s are still in service and would be sent into combat if it was believed roadside bombs were not going to be a major presence on the battlefield.

We knew from the beginning that Bradleys weren’t as impervious to anti-armor weapons as the M1, we were supposed to use the terrain for cover, keeping in mind that it was vulnerable. I guess it’s a little harder to use terrain as cover when the bomb is right next to you. I’ve heard that Strykers have their problems, too, but I never paid much attention to the debate, so i won’t comment on that.

But I hope the Army isn’t stupid enough to completely get rid of Bradleys until they have a new replacement. If it takes ten years to replace it, and they dump the Brad, you can be sure that we’ll need them sometime in the next ten years. That’s the nature of the business and our enemies.

Category: Military issues

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  1. Just A Grunt says:

    Same O same O. Fighting the last war not the next one. This whole new strategic plan is built on the false premise that we will never go to war with a conventional enemy again.

  2. OldCavLt says:

    As a Force Mod officer, I was with assigned to the 11th Cav to get the Bradley M3 on the ground in 84-85.

    There were teething problems, but the troops were brilliant and training went very well.

    It was quite the step up from the 113, but I sure miss driving one of those bad boys from the good old days when I was a scout in the 3rd ID.

    You comments are dead on, BTW….

  3. Beretverde says:

    My “buddy” while with CDC at Benning, was trying to kill the MICV in the early 70s. He just graduated from the War College (when that meant something). He was “babbling” about armed helicopters as tank killers. The Army now happens to be 40 fucking years too late. Good riddance to the expensive ton of shit with guns. A lot of money was made and spent on these worthless behemoths.

    BTW- my “buddy” was Master Paratrooper, CIB Korea (SS), 1st Officer Ranger Class Grad, and a Master Aviator (gunship Co in Vietnam SSw/OLC etc.) also an OCS Hall of Fame.

    I’m passing along the good news to him!

  4. Spigot says:

    @1…Not really. The primary effort in CTC training is now shifting focus to a Hybrid Threat. A mix of conventional Tier 2/3 capabilities in armor, IFVs, AT weapons, rotary and fixed wing, and small arms.

    Coupled with a mix of insurgent and paramilitary forces, and criminal elements, the entire training focus of the Army is moving towards the HT and away from COIN.

    No one is assuming that the only opponent we’ll face is a guy in a man dress, sandals and a rusty AK, I can assure you.

  5. I suspect they’ll come up with a modifeid Prius…put it on tracks…beer can armor and of course the 50MPG of the Hybrid…it’ll be Green but not worth a shit in battle.

  6. jerry920 says:

    @5 Don’t laugh, they are already on the drawing boards, and further. THey keep calling it a “tank” like they did the M2/3, but it’s not a tank.

    http://gizmodo.com/5888644/armys-new-hybrid-tank-targets-our-enemies-and-soaring-oil-prices

  7. Jacobite says:

    Bet they’re prepping for the eventual acceptance of BAE System’s hybrid drive powered Northrop Grumman Ground Combat Vehicle.

    If it proves to be a true improvement over the Bradley, all well and good. If it’s just a lame attempt at reducing fuel consumption in a combat vehicle, bad on the DoD.

  8. Just Plain Jason says:

    Damn you CI…if the great one gets reelected then that is what will probably happen. Next thing you know they will issue biodegradable body armor…that dissolves when wet.

  9. xbradtc says:

    I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in Strategy Page’s reporting. Is the Army suddenly going to mothball all the M2/M3 in the inventory?

    No.

    Is the M2/M3 less vulnerable to IEDs than the 1st Gen Strykers? Yes.

    Does it make sense for the Army to start looking to replace a vehicle that’s been in service for 30 years? Yes.

  10. Just Plain Jason says:

    Now dammit can we just be old and just say we don’t like it?

    I don’t like these new fangled guns you have nowadays…in my day we used pointy sticks and we were happy!

  11. Ben says:

    Actually, I think it’s an M1113, not an M113.

  12. Ben says:

    Sorry, I just checked Wiki. I was wrong.

  13. jerry920 says:

    @10. Well said. I started out on the M551 Sheridan’s, the M60A1, the M113′s, the M561 (Gama Goat), the GOER (unsafe at any speed) and the M151. When I retired it was Bradley A2′s and the M1A2,the HEMTT and the HMMWV. I can’t tell you how many Bn Co’s kept a Armor All’d M151 jeep around for show (You here me 2/41 Inf?)

  14. jerry920 says:

    *hear, geeze I can’t do 2 things at once at all anymore.

  15. SnafuDude says:

    I can remember when we first got the Brads to replace the 113s.I was in the 1st ID in Germany (1986-1990).The learning curve was huge,as I was the driver and had to know every inch of that machine.Inside and out.You can imagine how clean they had to be after the wash rack trips.Command wanted them white glove ready because they were brand new.But Damn I loved gunnery at Grafenwohr.Had a butterbar lt.ride with me one night on a field exercise.{Not Graf}He told me to go forward.I said Sir, there`s a tank trap right in front of us.We can`t.He and I argued about it for awhile.I could see the hole through the drivers night sight,which was pretty clear.All he had was a pair of NODS on his head.Anyway he told me to go and I said then hold on Sir or something to that effect.I drove that Bradley straight down that hole.Bam.He hit his head in the commanders hatch and was bleeding from his face.We hit with a pretty good thud but I was prepared for it.I was fine,just a little rattled.That hole swallowed the entire Bradley.It was standing on it`s nose,in the mud.The rear of it was flush with the ground.It took a while to get it out with an M88 recovery vehicle.I wish I would have had my camera with me at the time.That Lt. never asked me to take him out on a recon at night again.He new he was wrong and I never got my ass chewed out for it.What a ride.

  16. Claymore says:

    The questions I have are 1) when are they going to surplus and 2) can I register it to drive on ATL roads…

  17. TPM says:

    WOW. When I was in the BAC (early 1982), they were building the IFV course. 11M didn’t even exist as an MOS then. Or, if it did, I didn’t know about it. Ft. Benning didn’t have a reception station then. We got to semi-chill at Jackson to get our shots, uniforms, etc. The Jackson cadre giving us a fake hard time about guys that are going to Benning. 3rd day a drill came, read us the riot act and put us on the bus. That was the longest bus ride of my life, even now. Man, I am getting old. It beats the alternative, I suppose. Thanks for the article.

  18. DirtyMick says:

    In my guard unit we cruise around in the old POS ODS versions (sorry still a little salty after gunnery) but the ODSS that 11ACR are getting and the A3s that other mech units are all suped up. The high mag switch is 48x, they have BFTs in the commanders seat and for the dismount squad in the back, and the gunners control station has been revamped. I doubt they’ll be replaced for a very long time

  19. Correction says:

    “If we had faced Saddam Hussein’s army in 1991 with Jimmy Carter’s mechanized divisions,”

    Huh? You need to research this vehicle, son. It was developed in the early 1970s and given final approval BY the Carter Administration in 1980. The only reason why you even had that thing to drive around in was because they fought Congress to get it for you.

    Numbnuts.

  20. Jonn Lilyea says:

    Um, numbnuts, I know the history of the vehicle, and I’m quite aware that the Bradley wasn’t created in two years. Where did I say otherwise?

  21. Yat Yas 1833 says:

    Gentlemen, don’t count on them doing away with the Bradley and giving you fellas a new toy. When I enlisted into my beloved Corps the LVT P-7 was still very new. They came into service in 1972 and if anyone is counting, that was 40 years ago! So here they come up with the EFV, faster in the water, faster on land, more heavily armored and more fire power. A more gooder vehicle, right? So what do they do? Cancel it!?

    Don’t think they won’t do same thing to you guys. As long as comrade banana is in the White House anything is possible.

  22. S.G. says:

    I remember a demonstration 2AD put on with the New Brads in 83, everything went great till the ramp dropped before they dismounts could remove the M231 FPW’s result bent barrels. I could feel the heat from the 1SG and he went from mildly irritated to spewing volcano of obscenity and fury

  23. Country Singer says:

    I’ll try sniffing around the TCMs and CDD here at Benning next week and see if I can find out what’s being thought of in terms of Brad lifespan and potential replacements.

  24. RayRaytheSBS says:

    I started off my career in the Bradley, switched to the ODS when it came out. And when I deployed to Iraq, I was a gunner in one. It was great to have that firepower right on hand to support the infantry squads.

    The armor company I was attached to in Ramadi in ’06 used them more than the Abrams. As far as armored vehicles go, it was more versitile.And did a great job of supporting the infantry in urban ops.

    While I will hate to see it go, it is apparent that the Bradley either needs an overhaul, or to be rep…laced. But if this administration decides to go ‘full retard’ and get rid of it without having a replacement lined qup… It won’t be pretty.

    P.S. I never liked the -A3 w

  25. RayRaytheSBS says:

    I started off my career in the Bradley, switched to the ODS when it came out. And when I deployed to Iraq, I was a gunner in one. It was great to have that firepower right on hand to support the infantry squads.

    The armor company I was attached to in Ramadi in ’06 used them more than the Abrams. As far as armored vehicles go, it was more versitile.And did a great job of supporting the infantry in urban ops.

    While I will hate to see it go, it is apparent that the Bradley either needs an overhaul, or to be rep…laced. But if this administration decides to go ‘full retard’ and get rid of it without having a replacement lined qup… It won’t be pretty.

    P.S. I never liked the -A3. Mostly because I believe the Bradley turret was designed by a four-foot nothing, militant feminist. And It was a tight fit for me in the ODS version. The A3 did add capabilities, but wow was it a tight squeeze for a BC, especially when trying to do immediate action on the coax whith that

  26. RayRaytheSBS says:

    I started off my career in the Bradley, switched to the ODS when it came out. And when I deployed to Iraq, I was a gunner in one. It was great to have that firepower right on hand to support the infantry squads.

    The armor company I was attached to in Ramadi in ’06 used them more than the Abrams. As far as armored vehicles go, it was more versitile.And did a great job of supporting the infantry in urban ops.

    While I will hate to see it go, it is apparent that the Bradley either needs an overhaul, or to be rep…laced. But if this administration decides to go ‘full retard’ and get rid of it without having a replacement lined qup… It won’t be pretty.

    P.S. I never liked the -A3. Mostly because I believe the Bradley turret was designed by a four-foot nothing, militant feminist. And It was a tight fit for all 6 foot of me in the ODS version. While the A3 did add capabilities, wow was it a tight squeeze for a BC. Especially when trying to do immediate action on the coax with that &$%! BFT screen in the way.

  27. RayRaytheSBS says:

    I am never adding posts from the phone again…

  28. Steadfast&Loyal says:

    I wouldn’t believe everything you read. There is hype to sell the GCV and/or sell more Strykers.

  29. Snowman says:

    Jonn:

    The question we all want to know is: Who won the Bradley speed races: you or COB6?

    Care to weigh in, there, COB6 actual?

    Snowman

  30. YatYas says:

    Would rather have an amtrack, although the Marine Corps was upgrading with the Bradley suspension as I was retiring in 1999. Yea, the Bradley has more firepower, but let’s see it go through a surf zone and do ship-to-shore.

    When recalled in 2005, saw some of the Guard units with modified M113s in MNF-W.

  31. Ann says:

    How about instead of going after our fighting capabilities we save the money by cutting a few obscenely expensive (and useless) contracts or cashiering the oodles and oodles of essentially jobless Generals we have running around?

  32. Elric says:

    Believe it…hybrid war, see Grozny as the best example. The interesting question is are we looking for a fighting vehicle or troop carrier. For the most part the Stryker variants and the MRAPs are troop carriers. The BFVs gave you tank killing power but were never meant to take them head on. That being said, 25mm AP will do a number on the T-72, rendering essentially defenseless. However that was a perfect storm of terrain, fires, and tech and training overmatch.

    They killed FCS, so what is this….Back to the Future? Doctrine must be synch’ed with tech or we wind up with some overpriced POS that claims to do everything but is good at nothing. Our track record is not very good on this.

  33. Poohbah, Lord High Everything Else says:

    Off topic, but funny:

    Tokyo Drift in a Bradley IFV

  34. Cedo Alteram says:

    1#”This whole new strategic plan is built on the false premise that we will never go to war with a conventional enemy again.” Up until recently I think you were correct but that has changed over the last two or three years. The Army isn’t just running from COIN but irregular conflict in general. It mistakely believes that the Operators will be able to handle it by themselves. That vision comes right from the administration and what it thinks our budgetary priorities should be. How did that work in the 90s?

    #4″Coupled with a mix of insurgent and paramilitary forces, and criminal elements, the entire training focus of the Army is moving towards the HT and away from COIN.” It’s almost like the USA doesn’t know what Full Spectrum means. The Army has a habit of totaling shoveling itself in one operational direction until bitten in the ass from the opposite. Then it will do a 180 and the process will start a new. Hybrd is a nice term but I’d like to know what that actually entails training wise.

    #13″@10. Well said. I started out on the M551 Sheridan’s…” That’s another thing it’s replacement the Buford was never bought. That’s a whole conversation right there. Reestablish the ACR concept, equipped with airtransportable M113s(or newer replacement) and Bufords we have a true medium force in the Army. Can likely be deployed in 96hrs, off ramp, and off road capable. It could actually do successfully the mission that the Stryker was bought for and failed at.

    Hell, forget the turret, just put a gun on a chassis like the Germans and Soviets did.

    The 82nd should also have the Armor battalion stood back up with Bufords.

    I read the article Jonn and frankly I think it’s a little misleading. The Bradley isn’t gone yet, it’s on the list to be replaced, that’s slighlty different. We do need a IFV for our mech units, that role is not obsolete.

  35. J.M. says:

    This is funnier
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXQ2lO3ieBA

    I was a Bradley guy. Compared to some of the things I’ve driven (M551, M113, BRDM once) the Bradely was a blast and I loved gunnery. Hated recovery ops at the washrack, but loved gunnery (except for that one unfortunate gunnery where everything from a warped barrel to constant blue torpedoes occured). Does anyone remember Rodriguez Range in Korea?

    What worries me is that some people in authority honestly believe that the Stryker is a superior vehicle in every way to the Brad and will be an excellent replacement. While I was not a fan of the Stryker, originally, I’ve grown to appreciate it’s capabilities over the Bradley in urban areas (keeping in mind that doctrine during the Bradley development was completely different then the roll-up, drop ramp, hit the bad guys house, and leave).
    But during BNCOC and while as an O/C at Polk and Irwin, I’ve encountered too many Soldiers drinking the Stryker kool-aid. No BN CDR in his right mind should ever stand up in a full auditorium during an AAR and state that his Stryker BN could out manuever a Armor/Mech BN and beat them in any terrain.
    What worries me is that we will see the Heavy Brigades shut down and replaced with Stryker brigades. And the next time we are in a stand up force on force fight, we’ll see a Stryker BN mauled on CNN.

  36. Muqdadiyah19D says:

    I worked on a Bradley on and off my whole 6 years in the Cav. Definitally grew on me. Nothin’ like the Finger of Allah with 25mm of thunder comin to save your butt while pinned down in Baqubah. It’s unfortunaly extremely loud, and extremely vulnarable to IED’s. We had our support weld on some super thick steel plates on the bottom to “help.” But a deep buried IED will literally blow a turret out and flip the whole vehicle. Seen it, more than once.

    The FLIR sights are awesome. You can see a person fart, literally. Glowing gun barrels, facial expressions on an individual 2 klicks away. The only problem was the gunner/commander can’t see through a window.

    Very versatile and fast vehicle. I can write for an hour on it, I loved it that much.

    Except sitting in the back of it as a dismount team, wondering if BOOM it’ll happen…not seeing where you’re going. Waiting hours for EOD to come out. Waiting on a FRAGO. Back hurting, dismount radio antennae poking everyone near you. Argh.

    I’m 135 pounds…I could barely fit in that turret with my plate carrier on. I can’t imagine some of you bigger guys. One of my commanders while I gunned it was a 200+ pound E-6. It was a struggle for him getting in and out.

  37. Brian A. says:

    Spent many an hour sitting in the back of a Bradley. Some of my fondest moments were at Hohenfels and Grafenwohr. – 91A10 for Alpha Company 3rd platoon 1/41 mech. inf. 1987-1990.

    • Jonn Lilyea says:

      Brian, you must have been at Garlstedt before I got there. I was in 1/41 twice. Once in Ft Hood and then again at Clay Kaserne. I got there just before the deployment to DS/DS.

  38. CavScoutCoastie says:

    Spent alot of time tearing up Ft. Stewart in a Bradley (the Cav version). Some of the most fun I ever had was as a gunner. I went to a light Cav troop when I transfered to the FLANG. I missed the Brad’s then. The washrack always sucked but the actual exercises were a blast.

    Just thinking about it brings back alot of memories. My first unit was an brigade scout troop. I spent the rest of my time in trying to find a similar situation. I’d go back to them today if I could.

  39. CavScoutCoastie says:

    Holy shit! I just realized this means I’m getting old. WTF!

  40. Spigot says:

    @#34: You wrote “It’s almost like the USA doesn’t know what Full Spectrum means. The Army has a habit of totaling shoveling itself in one operational direction until bitten in the ass from the opposite. Then it will do a 180 and the process will start a new. Hybrd is a nice term but I’d like to know what that actually entails training wise.”

    Three points: the term “Full Spectrum Operations” has been dropped from Army doctrinal lexicon–the correct term is “Decisive Action Operations”. (Doctrine Update 1-12).

    You write that you’d “…like to know what that actually entails training wise”. Are you former/current US Army? If so, haven’t you been through a CTC rotation when assigned to a RTU at NTC, JRTC or JMRC?

    The Army is very aware of what “Full Spectrum” (now Decisive Action) Operations entail…as for COIN…that is the piece that will remain embedded within the HT…paramilitary, insurgent, guerrilla and/or criminal elements present in the OE…acting in concert with the conventional threat or independently. Certainly a concern following the conventional fight, during Defense Support of Civil Authorities.

  41. Cedo Alteram says:

    #41 “Full Spectrum Operations” has been dropped from Army doctrinal lexicon–the correct term is “Decisive Action Operations”. (Doctrine Update 1-12).” Just looked it up have not read yet.

    “Are you former/current US Army?” No I am not.

    “The Army is very aware of what “Full Spectrum” (now Decisive Action) Operations entail…as for COIN…that is the piece that will remain embedded within the HT…paramilitary, insurgent, guerrilla and/or criminal elements present in the OE…acting in concert with the conventional threat or independently. Certainly a concern following the conventional fight, during Defense Support of Civil Authorities.”

    Sounds good and I hope you/Army is right. The issue I see occuring is what happened after Vietnam over thirty years, where if not by design then by default a two-tier Army manifested. Big Army, would cull itself of anything and almost everything but the big engagments(s). That would leave the Operators to pick up all the other tasks. Basic police functions, the foundation of COIN/Peace keeping/Stability Operations, belong to the regular USA/USMC formations, not the Operators.

    By the way, that critique I would increasingly aim toward the USMC as well. With creation of MARSOC, you have many of the same issues starting to come up.

    #35 “What worries me is that some people in authority honestly believe that the Stryker is a superior vehicle in every way to the Brad and will be an excellent replacement. While I was not a fan of the Stryker, originally, I’ve grown to appreciate it’s capabilities over the Bradley in urban areas (keeping in mind that doctrine during the Bradley development was completely different then the roll-up, drop ramp, hit the bad guys house, and leave).
    But during BNCOC and while as an O/C at Polk and Irwin, I’ve encountered too many Soldiers drinking the Stryker kool-aid. No BN CDR in his right mind should ever stand up in a full auditorium during an AAR and state that his Stryker BN could out manuever a Armor/Mech BN and beat them in any terrain.” I completely agree with you, excellent rundown.

    “What worries me is that we will see the Heavy Brigades shut down and replaced with Stryker brigades.” I highly doubt this will happen now but was a danger until recently. I think the limitations of the Stryker are far more known to the Army leadership then before. Second, there is no more money for conversions of anykind, the force is now contracting. I think the former 3rd ACR has converted and that brigade in the 1st Armored Division, the last two slated. Frankly we don’t need anymore Strykers!

  42. Brian A. says:

    John, I never had the good fortune to be at Ft. Hood. Went straight from AIT to Garlstedt. Spent my entire enlistment there. Nov. 87 – Feb. 90. There has been many times I wished I had re-enlisted.

  43. Exeter says:

    I tend to read articles from Strategy Page with a little skepticism, after having caught them with making annoying mistakes that five minutes of research could have prevented. And some of the articles have leaned into cheerleading for the Stryker/against the tank/IFV. Though the fact that one of those mistakes was done in support of the Stryker probably does not help their case that much…

  44. Ann says:

    When I first saw the title I thought you were referring to the Manning variant of the Bradley, only to have my hopes dashed. Quit playing with my emotions TAH!

  45. DaveO says:

    #45 Ann:

    THAT WAS AWESOME!

    total snortfest!

  46. Bushmaster5 says:

    Bradley memories…Hmmmm….been on every model from A0 thru A3; swim ops across Victory Pond and the Leine River; gunnery at Bergen and Graf. Good times! I can also remember from my Straight and Stalwart days a much younger COB6 as a brand new 2LT having his CVC cord wrapped around his neck at Bergen-Hohne. Good blog ya got going here Mr. Lilyea!

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