FCS cancellation confirmed, Army modernization changes course

Several smaller programs to take the place of Future Combat System

The Defense Department has issued an acquisition decision memorandum (ADM) that sets the future direction for Army modernization and that formally cancels the Future Combat System (FCS) program, the largest of the Army’s modernization efforts.

The memorandum issued June 23 confirms the recommendations made earlier this year by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to replace the single, giant program with a number of smaller modernization efforts.

FCS, particularly the manned combat vehicle portion, did not reflect the anti-insurgency lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gates said. The ballooning cost of the program and a contracting structure that didn’t closely tie fees to performance were also major issues.

One of the new modernization programs includes plans to quickly spin out the FCS capabilities that have already been developed to seven infantry brigades.

David Ahern, director of portfolio systems acquisition in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense, told a Senate Armed Services Committee panel earlier this month that limited user testing will be conducted this summer on various individual systems — the small unmanned ground vehicle, the class 1 unmanned air vehicle, unattended ground sensors and the Non-Line of Sight Launch System — as well as the network components needed to tie the systems together.

A Milestone C decision to move the systems into production is expected by the end of 2009, he said.

As well as this early infantry brigade acquisition, other programs so far identified for the new regime include a follow-on Brigade Combat Team (BCT) modernization, a ground combat vehicle modernization and an incremental ground tactical network capability.

The follow-on BCT program will expand the delivery of the early acquisition to remaining Army combat brigades by 2025. An acquisition plan for that will be presented for review in the fall, Ahern said.

The Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) has been given the task of identifying just what the critical issues are for the new Army modernization approach. It formed a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of force designs, the overall BCT modernization plan, network integrated architectures and ground combat vehicle operations requirements.

The resulting modernization strategy will produce “a versatile mix of BCTs that will leverage mobility, protection, information and precision fires to conduct effective operations across the spectrum of conflict,” said Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, director of TRADOC’s Army Capabilities Integration Center.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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Reader comments

Sat, Sep 24, 2011

"FCS, particularly the manned combat vehicle portion, did not reflect the anti-insurgency lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gates said"

of course the real question has to be.. Are the anti-insurgency lessons learned and conclusions valid.

If they include some notion that is better for US troops to engage insurgents directly rather than behind a wall of steel and firepower. ( which they currently are). Then the lesson itself and conclusions are flawed.

You see as much cheaper to hand select troops slapped them on the back side, hand them a rifle and a rock and say "go get them". Much cheaper than using the well proved combination of forces to include the Mech Armor component which is the actual muscle any modern army .

Lessons of the insurgency? If the greatest threats to the United States were in fact comprised of insurgents.
Perhaps cancellation of the FCS mechanized portions would be justified.

Of course they're not so why would DOD be so eager to cancel the mechanized portions
of FCS?

Well it turns out in terms of pure profitability nothing beats C3 I. Systems based upon software require and allow for endless upgrades tweaks and modifications were the profitability is high and the costs of the actual product is minimal as compared to the costs and profitability of managing and manufacturing major weapons platforms.

It turns out the lifespan of Major weapons platforms such as tanks and armored personnel carriers even aircraft in many cases is much longer and the skills required to manufacture initially and maintain such legacy systems are exceedingly high. Which of course affects profitability.

So it turns out the cancellation of FCS is nothing more than a ploy supported by the MIC ( military-industrial complex) to keep profits high cost low.

Needlessly endangering the lives of line Soldiers and Marines is just a cost of doing business. What's more it's a price the MIC does not have to pay.

Indeed truth is stranger than fiction.

Thu, Jun 25, 2009 Terry DC Area

You would think that drawing the line would be a simpler process. The vehicles being nixed were armored, the software going into that great beyond is not the system that has been the most expensive and wasteful and the people asked to review the options are not the best source of honest 'to the bone' truth. So where does this decision take us? Nowhere but back to spending more for less. Business as usual IAW DoD leades turned privateer!

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