By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (June 17, 2009) -- The Army is committed to providing Soldiers with a new ground combat vehicle, despite the recent cancellation of the eight manned ground vehicles from the Future Combat Systems program.
Army leaders hosted a symposium to develop requirements for a new vehicle, June 15, at the National Defense University on Fort McNair in Washington, D.C. Attendees at the forum included Army commanders, retired general officers, representatives from think tanks and enlisted Soldiers.
"It's a wide variety of diverse individuals with experiences in combat, experiences in combat development, experiences in strategic operations and operational concept development -- we've got a lot of people," said Brig. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., director, joint and futures, Army G-8.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli requested the "blue-ribbon panel" event, Harrison said, to gather "thoughts, ideas and perspectives" on what the Army needed in a new ground combat vehicle.
Harrison said it was important to include a variety of people in the panels because diversity of insight would mean a more robust vehicle for Soldiers.
"We have the end user in mind here, and the end user is the Soldier," Harrison said. "That Soldier is represented here today by some of the platoon sergeants and command sergeants major that serve in combat formations throughout the Army. They have a perspective that is real and that is current."
The one-day meeting with Army and civilian participants featured breakout sessions in six areas related to a new ground combat vehicle, including operational environments, platform characteristics, platform threats, realistic future requirements, networking considerations, and differences between a commercial-off-the-shelf vehicle verses an entirely researched and developed vehicle.
Information and ideas gathered at the blue-ribbon panel may eventually be used in Army Training and Doctrine Command's recommended requirements document for the ground combat vehicle. TRADOC is expected to deliver that recommended requirements document by Labor Day, and if approved, the document will kick off the acquisition process that will eventually put a new ground combat vehicle into the hands of Soldiers.
"Ideally, as we look at requirements documentation, it is reasonable to assume we may have this available to the force within a five-to-seven-year time frame," Harrison said. "We think it is doable, and we have support of the senior Army leadership and the secretary of Defense."
Just what the new ground combat vehicle might look like remains to be seen, though Chiarelli told members of the Senate, June 16, that technology in the new vehicle would likely borrow from technology the Army has developed for the cancelled FCS MGVs.
"We are working very hard to pull all those things we learned in the FCS MGV program -- that is not money that has been wasted," Chiarelli said. "All things we will use and look at for integration into the ground combat vehicle."
Chiarelli also said the GCV could be more than just one vehicle.
"I would not be surprised if we didn't see a family of vehicles that may include an indirect-fire capability," Chiarelli said. "We are very pleased with the (Secretary of Defense's) commitment to an Army modernization plan and to a GCV. And the chief of staff of the Army and the secretary of the Army have charged us with moving ahead and fielding something to our forces within five to seven years, and we are well into the planning to do that right now."