The Washington National Guard has gained its first Stryker vehicles after years admiring the ones driven by active-duty soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
This spring, the Guard started fielding a half dozen special Stryker vehicles to help it respond to natural disasters and potential terrorist incidents. The eight-wheeled machines will bolster units trained to respond to chemical, biological or nuclear threats, Guard spokesman Capt. Joe Siemandel said.
Each Stryker carries a crew of four soldiers. The Stryker can be sealed to drive into a toxic environment, where it can be used to obtain soil, vegetation, air and water samples for testing, according to the Army.
Washington is the fourth state to receive the so-called “chemical reconnaissance” Strykers for its fleet of military vehicles.
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The Strykers are not replacements for the tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles that make up the bulk of the Washington National Guard’s ground combat units.
For several years, Washington National Guard Commander Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty has been urging military leaders to replace the tracked tanks and Bradleys with Strykers. Gov. Jay Inslee and the state Legislature have endorsed Daugherty’s proposal.
Daugherty wants Strykers because he considers them more useful for domestic disasters.
Strykers for the Guard also could improve collaboration with JBLM, which has more Stryker units than any other Army installation and is home to the Army’s Stryker Center of Excellence.
The six vehicles have been assigned to the National Guard’s 420th Chemical Battalion and 898th Engineer Battalion. The soldiers who will work with them got them in the field this month at the Yakima Training Center.