FT. LAUDERDALE: The Army’s sizable combat vehicle fleet will remain largely intact despite ongoing efforts inside the Pentagon to reshape the service into a post-Afghanistan force.
While the Army may not be able to buy the amount of new vehicles or modernize the number of legacy systems it wants, the service’s overall combat vehicle strategy will remain intact, according to Scott Davis, program executive officer for ground combat systems. There is nothing in the Pentagon’s new five year spending strategy or the White House’s new national security strategy “that terribly concerns us,” he told reporters during a briefing at the Association of the U.S. Army’s winter symposium here. “We may [decline] in quantities or distribution, but no real changes,” Davis said. His comments come weeks after Maj. Gen Tim Crosby, head of the Army’s program executive office for aviation, said that his accounts would largely be spared the budget axe across the service’s future years defense plan.
However, combat vehicle accounts did not come out completely unscathed. Service leaders decided to terminate the Humvee recapitalization effort in the fiscal ’13 plan. The cancellation of the Modernized Expanded Capability Vehicle program gave the Army some much needed budget breathing room. It also cleared the way for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and Ground Combat Vehicle to enter into the arsenal. Weapon systems aside, the Army did decide to cut over 50,000 troops from the total force as part of its fiscal 2013 budget plan unveiled earlier this month. Army units stationed in the continental United States and in Europe were hit particularly hard by the troop cuts. But the drop in troop strength could end up being an advantage for Army planners.
The reduction in Army personnel numbers drops the combat vehicle requirement for Army units, Col. William Sheehy, project manager for the Army heavy brigade combat teams, explained at the same briefing. That drop in requirements opens the door for service planners to use those excess vehicles for other development efforts. The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the proposed follow-on to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, will likely be a modified version of an existing Army platform, Sheehy said. Even though the AMPV is still in the “nascent stages” the $2.4 million Army-imposed cost cap on the effort all but rules out a brand new vehicle, Davis said. That kind of attention to cost could prompt the Army to do the same thing with the GCV. Leveraging a highly-modified Bradley or Stryker vehicle to fill the GCV requirement is “a potential scenario,” Project Manager Col. Andrew DiMarco said. But he did note the level of work required — particularly with the communications, command and control systems– to get a legacy Army vehicle up to GCV specs would probably rule that option out.
However the Army decides to reshape its combat vehicle fleet to fit a post-Afghanistan world, one thing is for certain: tanks and trucks will continue to be a staple of Army warfighting, Davis said. As long as that remains largely unchanged, so will the service’s combat vehicle fleet, he said.