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U.S. Army Year in Review

Although the Enhanced Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (E-IBCT) modernization efforts under way at Fort Bliss and White Sands Missile Range with 5th Brigade – 1st Armor Division (Army Evaluation Task Force – AETF) and 3rd Brigade – 1st Armor Division (selected as the first equipped and deployable E-IBCT) represent just a small slice of ongoing U.S. Army activities, they provide one annual cycle in which to track myriad initiatives and efforts.

So it was that calendar year (CY) 2010 began with the echoes of a Dec. 22, 2009, DAB that provided the Army with a “Milestone C” acquisition decision approval to move into low-rate initial production for one Brigade Combat Team set of the “Increment 1” E-IBCT modernization program.

Initial Increment 1 elements of the canceled Future Combat System (FCS) program included 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.

As described by service representatives, the December 2009 DAB 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 FY 2011. 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.”

A soldier operates a Class 1 UAV during 2010 E-IBCT Increment 1 test and evaluation. The Class 1 UAV has since been cancelled. U.S. Army photo

But equipment modernization like the E-IBCT Increment 1 package represents just one small part of the U.S. Army’s ongoing activities. In establishing the U.S. Army’s “Posture Statement” early in CY 2010, the U.S. Army chief of staff and secretary of the Army jointly observed that the Army also “continues to lead America in the global struggle against violent extremism. Since the attacks of September 11th, 2001, America’s Army has engaged in sustained combat against determined enemies, provided lifesaving humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disaster, and supported homeland defense and civil authorities in responding to domestic emergencies.

“In more than eight years of war, the soldiers, civilians, and families of our Army have paid a heavy price – more than one million have deployed to combat, over 3,900 soldiers have sacrificed their lives and over 25,000 have been wounded,” they stated. “Yet our Army remains the ‘Strength of the Nation’ because of the courage, commitment and resilience of our people. Each day, 1.1 million soldiers, 279,500 civilians, and their families proudly serve in nearly 80 countries around the world, and in the past year, more than 279,000 men and women chose to enlist or reenlist in the United States Army.”

Outlining service priorities for the coming calendar year, they pointed to a process, now under way for three years, to “restore balance” to the Army under a plan based on four critical imperatives: the ability to sustain the Army’s soldiers, families, and civilians; to prepare forces for success in the current conflict; to reset returning units, rebuilding the readiness consumed in combat while preparing for future deployments and contingencies; and to transform to meet the unknown demands of the 21st century.

The Army’s successful emphasis on those four critical imperatives is reflected in milestone events and announcements across the calendar year.

As examples, Army efforts to sustain forces and prepare for success in the current conflict were clearly evident in early 2010 announcements marking a growing “surge” of additional force elements to Afghanistan, part of the 30,000 troop increase authorized by President Barack Obama on Nov. 30, 2009.

Jan. 12, 2010, saw the announcement of the deployment of approximately 3,100 additional forces to Afghanistan, including the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, which would deploy approximately 2,600 soldiers to Afghanistan in the summer of 2010.

That deployment announcement was followed less than three weeks later by the Feb. 2, 2010, announcement of a late summer deployment for an additional 4,100 soldiers to Afghanistan, including elements of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, from Fort Campbell, Ky., along with approximately 900 additional troops from several other units.

Between those two deployment announcements, the challenges of combat in Afghanistan were highlighted by a Jan. 29, 2010, announcement from Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

U.S. Army soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, engage in a small-arms firefight with enemy forces during Operation Moshtarak in Badula Qulp, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 19, 2010. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Efren Lopez, U.S. Air Force

After receiving the U.S. Central Command investigation results regarding the combat action involving U.S. Army forces at Wanat, Afghanistan, on July 13, 2008, in which nine U.S. Army soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded, McHugh stated, “I have directed the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, Gen. Charles Campbell, to review the recommendations and take action as he deems appropriate with regard to Army personnel identified in the report within 90 days.

“We remain in close contact with the families of our fallen from this battle, and they will be invited to a comprehensive briefing on the investigation following Gen. Campbell’s actions,” he said. “We must be an Army that is committed to continuous self-assessment and improvement. Analysis of this investigation’s findings provides us the opportunity to better ensure we are doing everything possible to safeguard the lives and treasure entrusted to us while ensuring mission success.”

One very small measure of preparing soldiers for that mission success could be found in the Army’s Feb. 19 announcement that the service would provide combat uniforms in a new “MultiCam” pattern to all soldiers deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, starting in the summer of 2010.

“This decision follows a rigorous four-month evaluation and reflects the Army’s commitment to giving soldiers in Afghanistan the most effective concealment possible,” the announcement read, adding, “The Army’s selection of MultiCam for soldiers in Afghanistan culminates phase III of a four-phase plan to thoroughly and deliberately evaluate camouflage alternatives.”

The evaluation of camouflage alternatives included a fall 2009 limited fielding of possible new patterns to two battalion-size elements in Afghanistan. In addition, the Army deployed a team of experts to Afghanistan in October 2009 to gather extensive data and photos on the diverse environments of Afghanistan, where soldiers often travel through multiple environments in a single mission, from snow to woodland to desert.

According to the announcement, “The Army incorporated the information gathered into a photo simulation study it then administered to nearly 750 soldiers who had deployed to Afghanistan. The study asked them to compare six patterns against eight different environments. The results, along with surveys of soldiers in the two battalions who received alternate camouflage, formed the basis for the Army’s decision on MultiCam.”

At the larger end of the materiel spectrum from warfighter uniforms, February 2010 also witnessed the Department of the Army announcement that it had “re-evaluated the contract award decision for its Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) originally made on Aug. 26, 2009. This change was based on Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recommendations. Accordingly, Oshkosh Corp. has been awarded a competitive, five-year requirements contract for production of up to 12,415 trucks, 10,926 trailers, and associated support and engineering services. The total estimated contract value at award was $3.023 billion.”

“The Army originally awarded the contract to Oshkosh, but BAE Systems, Tactical Vehicles LP and Navistar, LLC filed GAO protests against the contract award to Oshkosh,” it added. “GAO sustained portions of the Navistar and BAE protests on Dec. 14, 2009. The GAO recommended that the Army re-evaluate the offerors’ proposals under the Key Tooling and Equipment Element and conduct a new evaluation of Navistar’s past performance that adequately documented the agency’s judgments, and make a new source selection decision. The Army notified the GAO on Dec. 28, 2009, that it would comply with its recommendations to re-evaluate the proposals and make a new source selection decision. From Dec. 21, 2009, to Jan. 22, 2010, the Army re-evaluated the proposals in accordance with the GAO’s recommendation. Subsequently, there was an Office of the Secretary of Defense peer review affirming the Army’s reevaluation process.”

Reflective of the imperative to transform to meet the unknown demands of the 21st century, approximately two weeks after its “re-affirmation” of the FMTV award, the Army released a request for proposal (RFP) for the technology development phase of the Infantry Fighting Vehicle to be developed under the Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) effort.

Pfc. Matthew Becerra and a soldier with B Company, 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, advance toward an objective during a tactical demonstration at a palm grove near Ba’qubah in Diyala province, Iraq. The demonstration was performed for senior Iraqi army officers to showcase the skills their soldiers learned during rural training exercises that were conducted in October. DoD photo by Spc. Robert England, U.S. Army

At the time, the GCV effort was described as “part of a holistic Army plan to modernize its combat vehicle fleet. This includes incorporating Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected [MRAP] vehicles into the fleet while modernizing current vehicle fleets including Stryker. The first Ground Combat Vehicle will be an Infantry Fighting Vehicle offering a highly-survivable platform for delivering a nine-man infantry squad to the battlefield. The GCV is the first vehicle that will be designed from the ground up to operate in an improvised explosive device [IED] environment. It is envisioned to have greater lethality and ballistic protection than a Bradley, greater IED and mine protection than an MRAP, and the cross country mobility of an Abrams tank. The GCV will be highly survivable, mobile and versatile, but the Army has not set specific requirements such as weight, instead allowing industry to propose the best solution to meet the requirements.”

All of those activities were taking place against a background of emerging Capability Portfolio Reviews (CPRs). As described by participants in the process, the CPRs reflected a balanced Army vision that not only sought an effective, affordable, and modernized Army but also recognized the need to be diligent stewards of resources to carefully manage existing programs and budgets.

As a result, the secretary of the Army directed the under secretary and the vice chief of staff of the Army to implement a CPR process for a one-year period, effective Feb. 22, 2010. The intent of the process is to conduct an Army-wide, all components revalidation of requirements for all Army acquisition programs, holistically examining all existing requirements and making recommendations to terminate ones that are redundant and outdated.

The CPR process focuses on eight portfolios: Tactical Wheeled Vehicles, Precision Fires, Air and Missile Defense, Radios and Network, Aviation, Engineer Mobility, Combat Vehicle Modernization, and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance.

However, the Army never stands still, so about the same time that the CPRs were moving into high gear, late April saw the release of the 2010 Army Modernization Strategy by the Army’s G-8 office.

Marking the strategy release, Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., chief of staff of the Army, observed, “The goal of Army modernization is to develop and field the best equipment available to allow our soldiers to be successful against our enemies. We must continue to transform into a force that is versatile, expeditionary, agile, lethal, sustainable, and interoperable, so that our soldiers will have a decisive advantage in any fight.”

As outlined by the strategy, the Army plans to achieve its moderni-zation goals by developing and fielding new capabilities; continuously modernizing equipment to meet current and future capability needs through procurement of upgraded capabilities, reset, and recapitalization; and meeting continuously evolving force requirements through Army priorities and the Army Force Generation model.

Other 21st-century uncertainties were reflected in the May 21, 2010, announcement of Army intentions to establish a new Army Forces Cyber Command (ARFORCYBER) Headquarters within the National Capital Region, no later than October 2010.

As the Army’s component to U.S. Cyber Command, ARFORCYBER will capitalize on existing service cyber resources, achieving efficiencies by bringing cyber resources under a single command. The U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Signal Command (Army) and portions of the 1st Information Operations Command (Land) will be subordinate units to ARFORCYBER. Additionally, the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command will be under the operational control of ARFORCYBER for cyber-related actions.

Service announcements credited ARFORCYBER with bringing “unprecedented unity of effort and synchronization of Army forces operating within the cyber domain, and will integrate full-spectrum cyberspace operations for the Army.”

Sometimes modernization requires stepping back from a particular program or initiative, as seen in the May 13, 2010, Department of Defense (DoD) announcement that it had authorized the Army to cancel the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS) element of its Increment 1 E-IBCT package.

The NLOS-LS cancellation decision was one early “key result” of the CPR process that the Army had implemented in late February. In crediting the decision to CPR, the DoD announcement stated, “The Precision Fires portfolio review examined the balance of high-end precision munitions and lower-end near-precision munitions. A detailed analysis of alternatives determined that the Non-Line-of-Sight Launch System does not provide a cost-effective precision fire capability. The Army intends to pursue other capabilities to engage a moving target in all-weather conditions in order to fulfill the operational requirement defined for the NLOS-LS. As a result, the Army concluded NLOS-LS is no longer required; the Secretary of the Army recommended cancellation and the undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics approved and authorized the request. Additionally, analysis from the portfolio review concluded a reduction in the number of Excalibur and Accelerated Precision Mortar Initiative rounds was also warranted; the Secretary of the Army also recommended approval of these proposed reductions, which the Department approved as well.”

The Army’s combat realities remained a ubiquitous presence during CY 2010, with yet another reminder surfacing in late June, with the release of findings for the July 13, 2008, battle fought by soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Wanat, Afghanistan.

“In every review and study conducted to date, the courage, valor, and discipline of the soldiers who fought at Wanat have been universally praised,” said Casey. “These soldiers were well-trained, well-led, and fought bravely to defeat a determined and intense enemy action to overrun their base in Wanat. They persevered in a fashion that deserves broad recognition of their bravery and tenacity. Our hearts go out to the families of the fallen soldiers.”

“We can never alleviate the suffering felt by the families and friends of the incredibly brave soldiers who were killed and injured during this battle, or adequately express our sympathy for their loss,” added McHugh. “We remain grateful for and humbled by their extraordinary courage and valor.”

The officer directed to lead the review back at the end of January, Campbell, added that the U.S. officers, noncommissioned officers, soldiers, and Marines at Wanat met the test of battle, noting, “By their valor and their skill, they successfully defended their positions and defeated a determined, skillful, and adaptable enemy who masses and attacks at times, ways and places of his choosing.”

And just as the 2010 Posture Statement referenced the Army’s ability to engage “in sustained combat against determined enemies” while also providing “lifesaving humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disaster,” late August 2010 saw the announced deployment of 18 additional helicopters to Pakistan as part of the expanding U.S. contribution to flood-relief efforts.

“The aircraft, which include 10 CH-47 Chinook and eight UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, and associated personnel are assigned to the 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Wainwright, Alaska,” the announcement read. “The unit will operate in partnership with the Pakistani military throughout flood-impacted areas. These helicopters are expected to begin flood-relief efforts in Pakistan in mid-September.”

It added, “This is the latest in a series of deployments in response to Pakistan’s urgent request for flood-relief assistance. Approximately 15 U.S. military helicopters and three C-130 aircraft already supporting flood-relief efforts in Pakistan have transported more than 2 million pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies and rescued more than 7,000 people, delivering much-needed aid and providing transport to people who urgently need emergency assistance.”

U.S. and Pakistani soldiers load bags of grain onto a U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Pakistan Aug. 5, 2010. Humanitarian relief and evacuation missions were being conducted as part of the disaster relief efforts to assist Pakistanis in flood-stricken regions of the nation. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Horace Murray, U.S. Army

Another representative readjustment to service modernization plans took place in late August when the Army canceled the original RFP for its GCV program, following comprehensive review of the initial supporting requirements.

“The review was conducted by both the Army and Office of Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (OSD (AT&L)) as part of a continuing effort to ensure that all Army acquisitions effectively and affordably meet the needs of our soldiers,” an Army announcement stated. “The contract cancellation was made at the earliest stage of the acquisition process, resulting in up to a six-month delay of the program, which will best ensure the long-term success of the Ground Combat Vehicle program by better aligning vehicle capabilities with the anticipated needs of future combat operations.”

In late October 2010, as industry representatives continued preparing for the release of a new RFP for the GCV program, the changing nature of the U.S. Army warfighting commitments in one theater was highlighted by the deployment announcement for the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade (AAB), 1st Cavalry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas.

Consisting of approximately 3,800 personnel, the unit will deploy to Iraq in January 2011 in support of Operation New Dawn (OND). As part of OND, the 3rd AAB will have three primary missions: advise, assist, train, and equip Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered counterterrorism operations; and support and protect civilian and military efforts focused on developing Iraqi civil and institutional capacity.

Concluding their introduction to the 2010 Posture Statement, the Army chief of staff and service secretary acknowledged, “Our nation faces the difficult challenge of balancing when, where, and how to engage in a dynamic and uncertain world while meeting important priorities at home. However, when the security of our citizens or allies is threatened, the nation can depend on America’s Army – the Strength of the Nation.”

This article first appeared in The Year in Defense, 2010 Review, Winter 2011 Edition.


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