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Vice chief pleased with insights toward new combat vehicle

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (July 23, 2009) -- A month after Army experts first gathered to discuss requirements for a new ground combat vehicle, their insights from that forum were presented to the Army's vice chief of staff -- and were met with approval.

"The distinguished participants provided the Army with excellent input," said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli. "I could not be more pleased with their participation and interest in their work across the Army and DoD."

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In June, a "blue ribbon panel" of Army officers, retired general officers, representatives from think tanks and enlisted Soldiers met for the first time at the National Defense University on Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., to discuss the requirements for a new ground combat vehicle.

The panel's more than 50 participants considered such things as the operational environment the vehicle would operate in, the characteristics of the platform, anticipated threats, as well as network issues.

The meeting there was unusual in that it was the first time the Army had gathered such a group to provide input into a major weapons system purchase.

"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.

Since then, insights from that meeting have been distilled and reviewed by experts at the Army's Training and Doctrine Command. On July 16, the executive board from the blue ribbon panel, along with Chiarelli, the board's director, met with representatives from TRADOC to hear their opinions on what was discussed back in June at NDU.

Experts from TRADOC presented 24 "major insights" they had distilled from the first meeting of the blue ribbon panel. Those major insights will be used by TRADOC to develop a "requirements document" that will be presented to the secretary of the Army in September. That document, if approved by the secretary, will be one of the first major steps in purchasing a new ground combat vehicle for the Army. It is expected the Army will see the first GCV within five to seven years.

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."

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