The Army’s G-8 rolled out the service’s modernization strategy, emphasizing both affordability and interoperability as key drivers, at the April Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast April 29.
Speaking in suburban Washington April 29, Lt. Gen. Robert Lennox said tin devising the strategy the Army was building on the Quadrennial Defense Review’s admonition to “winning the wars you are in and preparing for future contingencies.”
It also takes into account that the Army is “not sure what your enemy is going to look like.”
The way the strategy will be implemented is “developing and fielding new capabilities,” he said, built on a strong network able to take critical information down to the dismounted soldier or the company commander on the move, the development of the Ground Combat Vehicle to replace the Bradley fleet and future developments in unmanned aerial vehicles.
“You have to take the network with you,” he said. Later in answer to a question, he added it is more complex than using a Blackberry in the United States with cell phone towers reaching pretty much around the country. “Afghanistan does not have cell phone towers” in those kinds of numbers.
Lennox said, “You have to be able to upgrade” what goes into the systems and they need to be relevant for the next 15 years.
The fielding part of the strategy is consistent with Army priorities of the Army Force Generation Model and ensuring that [units] are equipped for that specific mission,” be it homeland security or high-end combat.” Lennox said this is “not tiered readiness.”
Stressing affordability, Lennox said the Army’s portfolio review of programs are determining the currency and relevancy of programs and are also looking at new requirements on the near horizon.
At the same time, the Army is reviewing quarterly the items fielded through the Rapid Equipping Force to determine what will move into the program of record, what are niche technologies that can be warehoused and what technologies are no longer current or relevant.
An example of one technology that moved from rapid equipping to being a program of record is the Raven UAV.
Originally about 180 were fielded and now there are 1,200 in the Army’s fleet.
Industry is to respond to the Army’s request for proposals on the new Ground Combat Vehicle in May. During two industry days, the Army shared what it had learned from the now cancelled Future Combat Systems vehicle program with industry, he said later.
Lennox said the key difference between FCS and the Ground Combat Vehicle is the “leverage of much more mature technology [and] then we’re going to put these in the hands of soldiers” for testing and evaluation at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Speaking with reporters after the breakfast, Lt. Gen. William Phillips, the military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said one of the key lessons from FCS is: “Speed matters.”
The Army will test spin out technologies for battalions from other elements of FCS in September. “We had some trouble with testing last year.”
He noted the General Accountability Office and Congress Research Service’s reports on the tests and said they were accurate. As he testified recently, “program managers immediately began fixing” the areas that failed. “This is a four-year test program.”
Lennox said, “We’re making it more complex over time.” The following year the tests will be on technologies for brigades.
Phillips added in the session with reporters. “If they prove not to be reliable, we are not going to field those systems.”
“I think this is a low-risk strategy,” of testing potential spin-out technologies, Lennox said. The Army is testing “not only the sensors, but the integration of the sensors” with the soldiers at Fort Bliss.
Strategy is posted at www.G8.army.mil
Fluor, an AUSA sustaining member, sponsored the breakfast