CAMP MURRAY, Wash. - The large, armored eight-wheeled Stryker vehicle became a fixture of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Joint Base Lewis McChord became a center for their deployment. Now the Washington National Guard is putting in a request with the Pentagon for Strykers that could help out in disasters.

You could evacuate civilians out of a flood area or even a fire area, said Col. Alan Dorow, who, among other roles, handled logistics for the Guard during major flooding in Lewis County in 2007 that damaged and flooded I-5 and required evacuation of hundreds.

Col. Dorow is also a veteran of the 81st Armored Combat Team, a joint Washington and California Guard unit which is currently equipped with M-1 tanks and Bradley Fighting vehicles among other equipment. He deployed twice to the war in Iraq with the 81st.

Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee and Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, Washington's adjutant general, urged the Pentagon to convert the 81st Armored Brigade Combat Team to a Stryker brigade.

As the war winds down in Afghanistan, recently returning active duty soldiers from the 4th Brigade 2nd Infantry learned that their unit could be deactivated.

The 81st now uses old tanks that are too heavy to use on our roads during emergencies, said Inslee, who quoted in a National Guard press release.

He went on to say that the Strykers would not only be more practical in natural disasters from floods to fire to earthquakes, but would continue to be available in their combat role as the military continues to shift its focus to the Asia-Pacific region.

Only one National Guard unit in Pennsylvania currently uses Stryker vehicles.

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