Public Support Needed to Support Army Programs 

7/16/2009 

         “This is not the time to look to the Army for resources” to cover other parts of the federal budget in time of economic crisis, one of its senior resource officers told 200 attendees at the Association of the United States Army’s Institute for Land Warfare Breakfast in suburban Washington.

          Lt. Gen. Stephen Speakes, deputy chief of staff, G-8, asked for help in “strengthening public support” over the long term for Army modernization programs in the wake of the cancellation of the manned ground vehicle portion of the Future Combat Systems.

          He told reporters following his July 16 remarks that an Army Blue Ribbon Panel chaired by the vice chief of staff  is reaching out now to solicit insights from academics to platoon sergeants that will then be analyzed and submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in September on how to proceed with a manned ground vehicle program.

          “We became more insulated” in developing FCS. “That is not a position of strength. We want to become more inclusive” in addressing his concerns – focusing on the current operating environment and balancing deployability and survivability -- expressed April 6 by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in announcing the cancellation.

          Those concerns raise a host of issues including what kind of vehicles – scout, command and control, etc.; the mix of heavy, medium and light; developing them in synchronization or serially -- are needed for a fleet numbering 16,000 combat vehicles now, he said.

          “We’re confident we’ll get [Gates’ support] by addressing his concerns, and that funds will be there in the Fiscal Year 2011 budget request going to Congress in February.

          “The goal is simple: We have it right and have the implicit support of OSD” in going to Congress for the funds.

          “We’re going to bring that vehicle in five to seven years,” Speakes said in his address.

          He said challenges in the future include sustaining the All Volunteer Force [“our people come first”], restoring depth, integrating Quadrennial Defense Review decisions and taking on a “fossilized” acquisition system.

          Turning to current issues, Speakes said the Army plans to move the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle program [from maintenance to providing them to the training base to placing in prepositioned stocks] into the modular force and put the cost in the base budget.

          “The Army is straining today to meet combatant commanders’ requirements” for manpower at a time when the service’s capitalization and reset of equipment “is coming under increased scrutiny”

Northrup-Grumman, an AUSA sustaining member, sponsored the breakfast.