By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (March 28, 2012) -- With the withdrawal from Iraq and similar actions in Afghanistan on the horizon, Soldiers looking to be leaders need to know opportunities are available in garrison, senior leaders said.
Army leaders speaking on Capitol Hill, March 27, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that keeping the right Soldiers interested in staying in the Army after the current combat action in the Middle East ends means showing those Soldiers that leadership opportunities exist in the United States the same as they do in theater.
"How are we going to keep them interested when we get them back from combat and we put them in Fort Hood or Fort Benning," asked Lt. Gen. Keith C. Walker, deputy commanding general, Army Futures. He said today's Soldiers have enjoyed a "lot of freedom of action and independence" while in combat, and that Soldiers have told him the appeal for joining the Army was not new equipment but the opportunity to lead.
"Those opportunities exist here," he said.
Still, the Army's "leadership triad," includes training, education and experience. The latter is one the Army is rich with, Walker told lawmakers. It's the other two, training and education, he said the Army must beef up on if it wants to keep the right Soldiers engaged stateside.
The Army will draw down to about 490,000 active-duty Soldiers. But it's important to service leaders that the Army can grow again in size, if the nation calls on it to do so. That means reversing the drawdown, and doing so responsibly.
Ensuring the Army can grow rapidly, if it needs to, means keeping in place the right kind of Soldiers, those are the noncommissioned officers and mid-level officers that will need to be available to train an influx of new Soldiers if the Army must expand again.
"We'll be a little bit more officer and [senior noncommissioned officer] heavy in some organizations," said Lt. Gen. John F. Campbell, deputy chief of staff of the Army, G-3/5/7.
"Should the nation need the Army to grow again, will we have the capacity to do that?" Walker asked. He said preparing for the future, one where the Army just might have to rapidly grow again, means more than just investment in equipment. It means investment in people.
"[It's] taking a very broad look across doctrine, organization and training. Yes, we still look at material. But aspects of leadership development are huge. And our personnel policies and facilities would help us do that. Perhaps, most importantly we think, is our investment in our mid-grade leaders, so that should we have to expand, we can do that."
In the past, Walker said, the Army was able to grow by about 15,000 Soldiers a year, but mid-level officers and noncommissioned officers were needed to train those incoming Soldiers.
GCV vs BRADLEY
The infantry fighting vehicle program, said Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox, deputy chief of staff of the Army, G-8, has "a number of shortfalls that we are aiming to correct with the Ground Combat Vehicle, or GCV, program." Included in that, he said, is that the Bradley Fighting Vehicle is underpowered, lacks the right capacity for the number of Soldiers it can carry, and lacks growth potential for the future the Army envisions.
"The Bradley does not have the maneuverability and the protection for our rifle squads that we believe we might encounter for those adversaries that would employ hybrid-like tactics against us," Walker told legislators.
Lennox told lawmakers the recently launched GCV program is on a "really good path" insofar as the requirements for the vehicle are correct and the estimated cost of the vehicle is correct. But he also said the Army is still looking at other options, including already-built vehicles from other countries, such as the Puma vehicle from Germany, and the Namer vehicle from Israel. He said the Army is also looking at what industry is doing in technical development.
"We are evaluating those to see if we have our requirements right and if this is the right path ahead," Lennox said. "So I think we are taking a very prudent, measured approach to make sure we have our requirements right for the GCV."
It's a possibility to modify the Bradley Fighting Vehicle to meet many Army requirements, but the cost estimate for doing that would put it on par with a newly developed GCV, Lennox said.
"We have done an analysis of alternatives that [has] said that the price is much closer to a new vehicle, fixing up the Bradley, to give it the growth potential and protection that we need in a similar version," Lennox said. "We are not done with that analysis. Improving the Bradley is an option for the Army in the future, and it is being looked at as well."
Lt. Gen. William N. Phillips, principal military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology said Army senior leaders think they can get the GCV "somewhere between $9-10.5 million." That cost, he said, is not far above the cost of doing a Bradley upgrade to give it the capability expected of the GCV.
JOINT LIGHT TACTICAL VEHICLE
The JLTV is an ongoing project the Army is working on in conjunction with the Marine Corps. Lennox told lawmakers the Army could get the vehicle for about $250,000 each, and with it "the capabilities we need for the future."
The JLTV will take over many of the roles the Humvee might have done. That vehicle, Lennox said, is no longer something the Army can use "outside the fence line."
"The Humvee, for example, is incapable of going off the forward operating base," Lennox said. "It doesn't provide protection for Soldiers today. We've over-burdened it with the weight."
Still, the Army will find roles for the Humvee in the future. Inside the United States, for instance, such roles could include homeland defense.
KIOWA WARRIOR AND ARMED AERIAL SCOUT
Phillips said Army leaders are excited about industry interest in the Armed Aerial Scout, or AAS, an aircraft meant to take over roles formally done by the Kiowa Warrior.
"We think there are probably between six or seven industry partners interested in AAS program," he said.
But with budget constraints, if the AAS doesn't happen, the Kiowa Warrior could be upgraded through the Kiowa Warrior service life extension program. The Army is also continuing with the Kiowa Warrior cockpit and sensor-upgrade program.
He said an acquisition memo, due around April 23, will allow the Army to go forward with formal AAS flight demonstration this summer. After that, the Defense Acquisition Board will make a decision this summer if there is a good enough solution to go forward with the AAS program.