Army’s $200-billion Future: Symptom of “Next-war-itis”?

29.05.08

Categorie: Infantry, Reality Check |

Recently Secretary of Defense Robert Gates took the military to task for investing hundreds of billions of dollars in imaginary future wars instead of focusing on the fights we’re already in. Today Army Lieutenant General Stephen Speakes, the top programs officer, spoke to bloggers about the service’s $200-billion Future Combat Systems family of networked robots and hybrid vehicles, a program that has come under Congressional scrutiny for cost and performance reasons. He insisted FCS was tailored for today’s wars:

For example, right now if you take a look at 20,000 up-armored Humvees that are in theater today, virtually every one of them has FRAG Kit 5. FRAG Kit 5 is the precursor armor technology that we’re going to use on the [FCS] manned ground vehicles. When you take a look right now at the soldier who is using a robot to disarm an IED, they’re using one of the primitive robots that is a part of our capability in Future Combat Systems. The first point is the Army will not rest. If we have a capability that is needed in combat, we’re not standing on ceremony; we’re getting it out in the field as fast as we can. …

We fully understand and are adhering to Secretary Gates’s guidance. What he said was don’t get “nextwar-itis.” You be focused on making sure that the capabilities you’re fielding have a direct relationship and relevance to this fight. And our answer is,when you take a look at what FCS is delivering today in combat, whether it’s the UAV, whether it’s the robot, or it’s the promise of the common ground vehicle,we think everything we’re doing in FCS has a direct relationship to what soldiers in combat need today.

But the biggest and most expensive part of FCS is the new hybrid-electric manned ground vehicles (prototype pictured), which won’t enter service until after 2013. And even they could be accelerated by five years, the FCS vehicles are half as heavy as current vehicles, and therefore twice as vulnerable to IEDs, rockets and mines. How in the world are these relevant to Iraq and Afghanistan?

(Photo: Army)

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5 Responses to “Army’s $200-billion Future: Symptom of “Next-war-itis”?”

  1. ELP says:

    Like I said before: Deploy some of those fancy weapons like the mobile FCS arty thingy to Iraq and you will see half of the unit robbed of manpower to go run foot patrols and kick down doors. Hardly the solution Gates claims that we need to fight Operations Useless Dirt I and II.

  2. Kevin Knodell says:

    Well, you could argue that the hybrids are relevent to Iraq because our dependence on oil got us into that mess. Plus their just so freaking great for the environment aren’t they? Whip out our acoustics so we can save the world.

  3. ant says:

    But surely there will be a need for *something* in five to ten years? Is anyone seriously suggesting that no development for the next gen be done? Iraq and Afghanistan could last a long time yet, but sure as eggs is eggs, something else will come up. No one can say for sure if it’ll be another Iraq or Afghanistan either, so building an army around those two, relatively low intensity conflicts, might not be all that wise.

  4. James says:

    ant has made a good point.

    The Falklands Syndrome is a point to ponder.
    1: UK MoD cuts all the big carriers and hard hitters. Marine Amphibious capability is scrapped (Albion and Bulwark).
    2: Falklands War appears the UK had limited Naval projection. Imagine how quickly the war would have been over has we still had the big carriers, Phantoms and Buccaneers to provide long range CAP and strike.
    3: 20 years later the UK invests in better Marine landing ships but does away with Fleet Air-Cover.

    If Argentina wanted to invade the Falklands now would be an ideal time as we have invested too heavily in umnanned technology and not enough in out of area defence.

    UAV’s are great but are very limited compared to say the JSF when it comes into service for flexibility.

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