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Wolfowitz Takes a Spin in a Stryker

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Times Staff Writer

For Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, climbing into a Stryker armored personnel carrier for a tour of this northern city marked a vote of confidence in a controversial new technology untested in combat conditions until it made its recent debut in Iraq.

Critics had said the wheeled vehicle could not survive an attack by a rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, even with mesh-like grilles added for perilous patrols in Iraq.

Minutes after Wolfowitz climbed out of his vehicle Monday, another Stryker came under assault and passed the test. As a four-door Opel pulled up to the vehicle a few miles across the Tigris River from where Wolfowitz was visiting, an RPG went through the Stryker’s open window, was caught between armored slats and detonated harmlessly outside the passenger compartment -- just as the vehicle’s designers intended.

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Army Brig. Gen. Carter F. Ham said Monday that another Stryker had survived an attack by a roadside bomb -- an improvised explosive device, or IED, in military parlance -- during a patrol this month in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra, leaving an occupant with a broken foot.

On Sunday, an RPG hit a third Stryker in the grille, slightly injuring one occupant. Both driver and vehicle returned to duty Monday.

“No doubt somebody’s going to hit one someday, but we’re particularly confident it’ll be OK,” Ham said.

“We knew that it worked,” he said. “I guess now everybody knows that it worked. Now that it’s taken an IED and an RPG, I’d say confidence has increased.”

Wolfowitz said the Stryker was delivering as promised.

“The real news is that the Stryker performed exactly as we believed it would,” he said. “With the work we have to do here, it’s superior to a tracked vehicle.”

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