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Army 'deadly serious' about replacement ground vehicle

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (July 02, 2009) -- After cancellation of its Future Combat Systems program, the Army continues to focus on modernization of the force and a replacement for the canceled Manned Ground Vehicle.

"We've got our very best people working on it," said Lt. Gen. Stephen M. Speakes, deputy chief of staff, Army G-8. "We're doing everything we can to reflect the lessons of combat, we're deadly serious about getting this as right as we can."

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The result of a recent Acquisition Decision Memorandum spelled the end of the Army's expensive modernization strategy, FCS. The ADM gutted the program of its eight centerpiece "manned ground vehicles."

"There was a commitment to Army modernization, there was a specific objection to individual programs that were part of Army modernization, and so, for example, the MGV did not enjoy the support of the senior leadership in the DoD," Speakes said. "We are getting a do-over."

There's no disagreement, however, that the Army needs a new ground vehicle.

"The Army's got about 16,000 fighting vehicles -- Bradleys, tanks, 113s, howitzers," said Lt. Gen. N. Ross Thompson, the military deputy for the Army Acquisition Executive. "At some point in time the Army's got to modernize those 16,000 fighting vehicles for the future or we are going to put Soldiers in harm's way if we don't do that."

The Army is working now to develop a new ground vehicle -- the Ground Combat Vehicle -- that is meant to fill the need for a more modern ground vehicle. Currently, operational requirements for such a vehicle are being developed by the Army's Training and Doctrine Command.

The Army is also focused on modernization through the "spinout" technology from the FCS program. Spinouts from FCS include such things as the non-line-of-sight launch system, the tactical unmanned ground sensors, the urban unattended ground sensors, the class-1 UAV, the small unmanned ground vehicle and the network integration kit. Those technologies will be part of the set of spinouts to the first seven infantry brigade combat teams.

Also part of Army modernization, Speakes said, is to better include the mine resistant ambush protected vehicle into the Army. That vehicle, he said, has proven combat effective and a better plan must be developed to fit it in to BCTs.

"Our challenge is clear, which is to take a vehicle that's been proven in combat and now over the course of the days and months ahead, develop a specific blueprint for how we're going to do that for the future," Speakes said.

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