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First Modernized Brigade Combat Team

Following completion of a Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review that was conducted on Dec. 22, 2009, that U.S. Army has received acquisition decision approval to move into low rate initial production for one Brigade Combat Team set of the “Increment 1” Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (EIBCT) modernization program.

The “Milestone C” acquisition decision came just six months after the June 23, 2009, acquisition decision memorandum (ADM), issued by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, which implemented decisions regarding the Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team (FCS BCT) program previously announced by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

While canceling the FCS BCT program, the June ADM also directed the Army “to transition to a modernization plan consisting of a number of separate but integrated acquisition programs to meet the secretary’s objectives. Those integrated programs include one to spin out the initial increment of the FCS program to seven infantry brigades in the near term and additional programs for information and communications networks, unmanned ground and air vehicles and sensors, and an integration effort aimed at follow-on spinouts to all Army brigades…”

That initial increment of the FCS program, dubbed “Increment 1,” includes the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle, the Class 1 Block 0 Unmanned Aerial System, both Tactical and Urban versions of Unattended Ground Sensors, the Non-Line of Sight Launch System and an early increment of the FCS network in the form of vehicle-mounted Network Integration Kits.

Early models of the “Increment 1” hardware were provided to the U.S. Army’s 5th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, based at Fort Bliss, Texas. Also known as the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF), the unit, which includes a high percentage of multi-tour combat veterans, work to evaluate the equipment and to develop the early tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) necessary to optimize initial employment.

A key milestone in the AETF test process was “Increment 1” Limited User Testing (LUT), which began at the end of April and helped paved the way for the DAB acquisition decision [see “Army Begins Limited User Test on FCS ‘Spin Out’ Technologies”].

As described by service representatives, the Defense Acquisition Board meeting “was a holistic review of maturity, requirements, testing and evaluation and production plans for Increment 1 capabilities.”

“The review formally paved the way for production of one Brigade Combat Team set of equipment, which will be used in Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) in FY2011,” they continued. “Additionally, the Army plans continued testing of all ‘Increment 1’ assets over the next two years. The Army is also executing a plan to incrementally grow and demonstrate network maturity and system reliability in order to support continued production and fielding of future Brigades based upon successful testing and evaluation this year and next.”

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Scott Gourley is a former U.S. Army officer and the author of more than 1,500...