House signals FCS cuts

House lawmakers slashed $400 million from the Army’s $3.4 billion funding request for the Future Combat System (FCS) in the Defense Department’s fiscal 2006 budget.

The House Armed Services Committee’s Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee reviewed or marked up the Pentagon’s 2006 budget May 12. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), subcommittee chairman, discussed funding priorities in a statement opening the session.

“The fiscal year 2006 mark gives first priority to providing equipment to the services for the global war on terrorism,” Weldon said.

The subcommittee also wants the military to seek independent analysis regarding the weight of manned ground vehicles in FCS. FCS represents a multiyear effort to equip the Army’s future force of brigade-size units with light vehicles that will have the heavy firepower of the service’s current division-size forces, with each brigade of 1,500 soldiers possessing 18 manned and robotic air and ground systems connected by a fast and secure communications network.

The Army requested $3.4 billion for FCS for 2006, a $600 million increase from the $2.8 billion submitted for 2005. The Army requested $98.6 billion as part of the Pentagon’s $419.3 billion budget request for 2006.

The subcommittee’s decision to slash FCS funding means a showdown when House and Senate conferees meet later this year to agree on funding in the 2006 National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate Armed Services Committee fully funded FCS when it marked up the DOD budget May 13.

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