5 years, 12 months ago
The Future Combat System Vehicle is soon to bite the dust.
The $87 billion Manned Ground Vehicle Program will probably be killed this week, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee Tuesday morning.
Army Secretary Pete Geren also clarified one point that is sure to raise the hackles of Sen. James Inhofe — the Non Line of Sight Cannon was killed as well. Inhofe had the NLOC made a separate program in large part to protect it from any cuts made to FCS. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the decision that killing MGV also meant killing the NLOS-C, Geren said today.
An Acquisition Decision Memorandum should be out this week, splitting the Manned ground Vehicle from the rest of the FCS program and killing MGV, Casey told the subcommittee. He said they have already instructed Training and Doctrine Command to being drawing up new requirements. A new program outline for a new ground vehicle should be ready “after Labor Day,” Casey said. The military will consider foreign vehicles, though Casey seemed reluctant to commit to the idea of buying one should it look tempting. (While the Army has bought excellent equipment from overseas in the past, it has been badly burned before over buying from foreign suppliers — remember those black berets made in China…. ) The first vehicles should roll out of the plant within five to seven years.
Sec. Gates and his budget experts have made very clear they expect MRAP will be a major part of the new approach to FCS. Casey and Geren were very cautious in responding to reporters questions about this after the hearing. “We are working to incorporate the MRAP” into whatever approach the Army comes up with, Geren said. And Casey said the Army is already putting networked MRAPs — with other FCS spinouts — into testing at Fort Bliss.
And is being replaced with something that the Pentagon believes to be more conducive to fighting insurgencies and other asymmetric conflicts. Concerning the first article on the FCS Vehicle, commenter
As was the case with the Chinese made black berets…the emerging issue is our declining defense manufacturing capacity. At the outset of the current “over-seas contingent operation” (we used to call them wars) we did not even have the capability to manufacture enough 5.56 ball ammo! Most units crossed the l/d without the basic load! This is not so much a ‘buy America” issue as one of being self sustaining.
Except that the problem actually runs deeper than that. First as the commenter mentions, there is the need to be self sufficient. The Captain’s Journal has mentioned the problems in the past with the loss of shipbuilding engineering experience, and it is no surprise that the USS San Antonio had so many problems straight out of port (see also here).
But remember that defense dollars also means development of both infrastructure and technology. When money goes to contractors other than American, U.S. dollars are helping both to transfer U.S. technology overseas, and also to develop new technology in countries other than America.
Finally, it gets even worse when those assisted with U.S. defense dollars are criminals like Vladimir Putin, who now owns a signficant portion of EADS and who stands to profit from the Airbus refueling tanker if the contract is awarded to EADS. This is the worst of all possible worlds. In this case, the U.S. would lose the capability to manufacture this aircraft, technology would be transferred overseas, and communist criminals would become wealthy off of U.S. defense dollars.
But we just don’t want to learn our lessons. Sarbanes-Oxley is bad law, contractors know how to game the system, and the low bid almost always means getting the worst equipment.