Send in the Strykers

Air Mobility Command says it is kicking off efforts this week to move more than 300 Army Stryker armored ground vehicles to Afghanistan in support of the US military’s troop surge there. Over the next two months, the command intends to fly these vehicles into land-locked Afghanistan on board C-17s and commercially contracted AN-124s. Cargo ships will carry the Strykers, which are assigned to the Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Ft. Lewis, Wash., for most of their journey into the Middle East theater. The airlifters will transport them on their last leg. “We’re continually working to plan new missions to meet [combatant commands’] needs—in this case the need for Strykers—as fast and as efficiently as possible,” said Maj. Charlie Velino, chief of the division within the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center at Scott AFB, Ill., that planned the Stryker airlift missions. The Obama Administration is beefing up combat forces by 17,000 and adding another 4,000 training personnel in Afghanistan to counter the resurgent Taliban and help Afghan security forces become more self sufficient. (Scott report by Capt. Justin Brockhoff)