Army modernizes – New equipment strategy begins 

Nicholas Krueger

Institute of Land Warfare

AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare (ILW) has recently released a new publication.

"A New Equipping Strategy: Modernizing the U.S. Army of 2020" (Torchbearer National Security Report, June 2012) explores the new campaign that the Army has undertaken to improve its responsiveness to 21st century battlefield demands while also preparing to overmatch potential adversaries in the distant future.

Technological overmatch clearly proved to be a critical component of the operational and tactical supremacy demonstrated by the Army in Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

But then, during the 1990s, the Army endured a "procurement holiday" during which the nation underfunded military investment accounts by approximately $100 billion.

When major wars in Afghanistan and Iraq emerged unexpectedly in the 2000s, immediate wartime needs dominated the Army’s modernization and acquisition priorities, leaving few resources available for the development of 21st century technologies necessary to maintain overmatch in the future.

The Army learned that it needed to preserve balance among its three pillars of end strength/force structure, readiness and modernization.

The Army has taken three major steps to redefine its acquisition paradigm and provide new tools to more appropriately keep pace with technological advances.

First, it improved communication with partners in industry and academia by identifying enduring modernization challenges in need of long-term development.

Second, it implemented the Capability Portfolio Review process, a senior leader evaluation mechanism that constantly reviews the performance of all existing equipment of similar purpose.

Third, it institutionalized the Army Agile Capabilities Life Cycle process (or Agile Process), a methodology that maximizes industry partners’ input early in the development cycle for rapidly evolving technologies.

As the paradigm matured, the Army has validated some of its modernization programs as high priorities that the force of 2020 simply must procure:

Warfighter Information Network–Tactical (WIN-T). WIN-T, the Army’s top modernization priority, is the soldier’s Internet and communications backbone to which all other networked systems must connect.

Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV). The GCV is the Army’s top combat vehicle priority and will replace the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle in heavy brigade combat teams.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV). The centerpiece of the Army’s tactical wheeled vehicle modernization strategy, the JLTV will replace the High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (Humvee).

Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV). The AMPV will fill general-purpose roles and replace the M113 armored personnel carriers (of Vietnam War vintage) that remain in service.

Paladin Integrated Management (PIM). PIM provides necessary upgrades to the existing Paladin self-propelled 155mm artillery vehicles and ammunition supply vehicles currently in service.

Kiowa Warrior. The Army is making upgrades to the light helicopter fleet – in continuous service since the 1960s – to keep these aircraft serviceable and continue meeting high demand.

Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS). JTRS is the Army’s future deployable mobile communications family of radio systems that permits digital exchange of voice, data and video with multiple channels.

Nett Warrior. Nett Warrior includes a smartphone-like electronic display device that graphically displays soldiers’ locations on a digital map that can be shared on the Army network.

Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A). DCGS-A is the Army’s premier intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tool that gives intelligence analysts rapid exploitation capabilities.

Joint Battle Command–Platforms (JBC-P). JBC-P friendly force tracking devices expand upon existing technology to increase joint interoperability and decrease the potential for fratricide.

In addition, the Army is replacing and upgrading its existing aviation platforms to keep them viable and capitalizing on the versatile hybrid acquisition approach that delivered unmanned aviation technology that was urgently needed by soldiers at war.

It is also pursuing major advances in such areas as precision munitions, defeating improvised explosive devices and lightweight crew-served weapons.

The Army has a clear, flexible plan to modernize and acquire the equipment needed to continue in its role as the nation’s force of decisive action.

The modernization and acquisition strategy in place today encompasses the concept of "readiness at best value" to help the Army manage itself as a responsible steward of national resources even as it evolves into the Army of 2020.

It is balanced, capable, agile and affordable.

What is needed now is better predictability of future resources, timely provision of expected funding and institutional support for the mechanisms that have streamlined the modernization and acquisition process so successfully. Unwavering support for a balanced equipping approach is key to maintaining a force of decisive action that stands ready to prevent, shape and win when the nation calls.

This and other ILW publications are available online at http://www.ausa.org/ilw and can also be obtained by calling (800) 336-4570, Ext. 4630, or by e-mailing a request to ilwpublications@ausa.org.