Defense Media Network

U.S. Land Forces Developments and Programs

Enhancing the Imagery

So much for the overview snapshot of land force development planning. Although Army planners anticipated the broad parameters of what was coming, it would be another 10 weeks before the receipt of the formal acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) regarding the FCS.

Issued by the then-under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics on June 23, 2009, the ADM defined and implemented the FCS Brigade Combat Team (BCT) changes outlined by Gates.

“The ADM released today cancels the Future Combat Systems Brigade Combat Team (FCS BCT) program and in its place directs the Army to transition to a modernization plan consisting of a number of separate but integrated acquisition programs to meet the secretary’s objectives,” read the Department of Defense ADM release. “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. The ADM also terminates the manned ground vehicle portion of the previous FCS program and directs an assessment with the Marine Corps of joint capability gaps for ground combat vehicles. The assessment will inform new requirements for Army ground combat vehicle modernization, leading to the launch of a new acquisition program in 2010.”

The release went on to identify the establishment of a task force by the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) to examine critical issues in Army-wide modernization as part of that assessment process, adding that the TRADOC task force “will lead a comprehensive review of force designs, the BCT modernization plan, network integrated architectures, and ground combat vehicle operational requirements.”

Current Fleet Modernization

While a solid, well-researched BCT modernization plan is critical to future planning, land force service planners have continued a broad array of modernization efforts that are focused on enhancing the capabilities and survivability of warfighters today and tomorrow.

One of the best examples of meeting today’s warfighter modernization needs can be found in the June 30, 2009, award for MRAP-All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV), which will provide soldiers and Marines with the optimum mix of survivability and mobility to conduct operations in Afghanistan. Simultaneously, three industry teams also are also conducting technology development programs under a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program that will ensure optimum performance and survivability traits across a broader range of future contingency operations.

But land force planners aren’t sitting around and waiting for the fielding of the JLTV. In fact, myriad modernization activities are swirling around the already-fielded fleet of joint service light tactical vehicles broadly identified as high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs).

Manufactured by AM General, the HMMWV is continuing its 25-year evolution odyssey that began with the “A0” series (1984-1993). The vehicle was initially seen as a replacement for the “5/4-ton” Jeep and possessed payload capacities of 2,500 to 3,630 pounds with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 7,700 pounds. Yet in just one decade, that “5/4-ton” replacement had grown to a “deuce and a half” equivalent, with the HMMWV Expanded Capacity Vehicle (ECV) (1993-present) rated for payloads up to 5,100 pounds at a gross vehicle weight of 12,100 pounds.

However, the survivability mandates of current operations have burdened many HMMWVs well beyond their rated GVWs, skewing “3Ps” of payload, performance, and protection (often called “The Iron Triangle”) by armoring ECVs to combat weights of 16,500 pounds or more.

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

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    Adam Longaker

    It is good to see that we are doing every thing that we can to support our military’s most valuable assets. (The men and women who defend our country with honor).