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Debt Deal Throws Army Vehicle Plan Off Track

Posted by Carlo Munoz on

Washington: The Army had a plan to revamp its ground combat fleet that would carry the service into the next decade.

Then the debt deal happened. Now, the Army is trying to figure out how to execute that strategy while meeting the $350 billion in defense cuts included in the White House debt reduction plan.

“The world changed last Monday, and it raised some additional questions that folks were not prepared to address,” a DoD source said. “At the end of the day, these are big-money [programs], regardless of what it is.”

On Friday, the Army will make its case to the Defense Acquisition Board, led by DoD acquisition chief Ash Carter, on what it has planned for most of the big-ticket programs in the ground combat systems portfolio, sources say.

Various tribes within the Army are jockeying for position before the Friday meeting, doing what they can to make the case for their pet programs, the source said. “There [is] confusion all across the portfolio on what exactly are we doing, what are the ground rules…what do we really want and what is really required, given the new fiscal realities and constraints” being pushed down by DoD.

From Strykers to Abrams tanks, every system except for the Ground Combat Vehicle and the Humevee replacement effort will be on the table. The decisions to come from Friday’s meeting will largely determine the service’s ground investments for fiscal year 2013.

This is the second time the Army’s ground combat systems have come under DoD scrutiny.

Some systems, like the Abrams tank and the Stryker, will just be modernized and sent back onto the battlefield.

Other systems, like the Vietnam-era M113 Armored Personnel Carrier, are destined for replacement due to its age.

But for other ground combat vehicles in arsenal, like the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the decision between modernization and replacement is not so clean cut.

Army leaders thought they had the answer a week ago. That is not the case now.

Budget pressures, compounded by readiness woes that are pushing the Army to the brink, it’s unclear whether the Army will have the right answers for DoD come Friday.

“There is not a complete meeting of the minds right now…within the Army on what [they] would consider the portfolio and what do [they] really want to do” with the legacy fleet, the source said. “What risk are [they] willing to take?”

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