Army officials search for new Land Warrior funds

After cutting all funding from the Land Warrior program in President Bush’s fiscal 2008 budget, the Army is searching for new ways to keep the program alive. Budget and operations officials will meet to search for new funding streams and plan for the future, Federal Computer Week has learned.

Land Warrior is the Army’s 10-year, $2 billion program to bring the power of the network to the individual soldier by equipping troops with a suite of computer, communications and sensor technologies.

The 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment at Fort Lewis, Wash., will deploy to Iraq in April to bring Land Warrior into the fight for the first and last time. The Army has said that the troops will be fully supported throughout their deployment, but then Land Warrior will go away.

The Army wants to take Land Warrior technologies that prove successful in Iraq and bring them into the Future Force Warrior program, the soldier network component of the Future Combat System. Therefore, the service needs to find funds to keep the program office open and continue development.

Operations officers will meet with Army budget officials next week to work out the details, said Brig. Gen. Marc Brown, who leads the Program Executive Office-Soldier, which oversees Land Warrior.

“I have been assured that I will receive some level of funding…the amount is in debate,” Brown said. The amount of money the program receives will determine what capabilities he can provide, Brown added.

Land Warrior has been successful, Brown said. The Army had to make a business decision to prioritize the future network over the current one, he said. “It is not fiscally prudent to invest in both networks,” he added.

Money could be taken from other programs or from foreign military sales of the Land Warrior technologies, said Claude Bolton, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisitions, logistics, and technology. At the recent IDEX conference in Abu Dhabi, several countries expressed interest in purchasing Land Warrior elements, Bolton said. “We’re out there looking for another way of doing this,” he said.

Success of Land Warrior in Iraq after it’s deployed could spur greater demand, said Col. Richard Hansen, the Soldier Warrior program manager. That, in turn, could produce new funding streams and potentially save the program from extinction, he said.

There won’t be any program of record to fill the gap between Land Warrior and Future Force Warrior, said Lt. Gen. Thomas Metz, deputy commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command. “We don’t know how we may bridge the capabilities,” Metz said.

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