By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (June 26, 2008) -- Soldiers in Infantry Brigade Combat Teams now get the first crack at Future Combat System technology, Army officials said during a news conference at the Pentagon June 26.
That capability, initially meant to be delivered first to Heavy Brigade Combat teams, will now be delivered to IBCTs by fiscal year 2011 -- three years earlier than previously planned.
The changes come after Army studies showed it was infantry units who were highest in demand in Afghanistan and Iraq, and infantry units with the most capability requests.
"As a result of capability gaps found in these IBCTs, the Army is accelerating the FCS complementary programs to provide capability to infantry units first," said Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. "These capabilities will increase their capability and survivability in offense, defense and stability operations."
Included in the equipment meant to be fielded to Soldiers is the Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, the Non Line of Sight-Launch System, the Class I Unmanned Airial Vehicle, the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle and network kits for the Humvee platform.
Also closely associated with this initial 2011 spinout of FCS equipment will be the Ground Soldier Ensemble. Though the ensemble is not part of the FCS lineup, it does contribute to Soldier effectiveness, and it will be accelerated so it can coincide with the FCS spinout.
"A key part of this is enabling the Soldier, so part of this decision is to take the Ground Soldier Ensemble -- the kit that enables the Soldier to be brought into the network -- to bring that developmental timeline in line with the FCS program," said Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson III, military deputy to the acting assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
Thompson also said the change in schedule would not change FCS program costs.
Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, deputy chief of staff for programs and Army G8, said the change will have a dramatic affect on the way Soldiers today can fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"This re-evaluation is based on seven years of sustained combat," he said. "We believe that the change materially improves upon the capabilities we will provide to Soldiers, and has direct relevance to the current war fight."