Future Future

By Marjorie Censer / August 26, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has plenty of advice for the Army when it comes to the restructured Future Combat Systems program.

In a recent report, CSBA president Andrew Krepinevich and research fellow Evan Braden Montgomery called on the Army to develop a modernization strategy that would "avoid repeating the mistakes of the past."

And today, in a new report, Montgomery warns the service against rushing ahead on the ground combat vehicle effort only to prepare platforms that are outdated by the time they are built.

Montgomery predicts the new GCVs "will almost certainly be larger, more heavily armored, and have V-shaped hulls for better protection against improvised explosive devices."

However, he says "sunk costs and time constraints" might keep the Army from coming up with designs that significantly improve on the previous MGV plans.

He particularly stresses the need to ensure a strong link between the new vehicles and the network. To address this challenge, Montgomery recommends the Army "prioritize developing and testing the components of the network and making sure they work together before any new vehicle designs are completed and production begins."

Yet, he warns that the Army's time line of five to seven years for production poses challenges.

According to the backgrounder, "rushing to judgment on a new generation of ground vehicles makes little sense, because it sharply increases the risk that the Army will not adequately resolve the many problems which led to the FCS program's cancellation."

Montgomery argues the Army may be racing ahead for budgetary reasons -- to ensure it can hold onto its funding -- more than strategic ones.

"Because its advantage in conventional warfare is likely to persist for some time, the Army should prioritize developing a modernization plan correctly rather than quickly," he concludes. "At the same time, ((Defense)) Secretary ((Robert)) Gates should maintain his pledge that funding previously earmarked for the FCS program's manned ground vehicles over the next several years will be reserved for the Army's new vehicle modernization program, while also providing the Army with additional time to develop and refine that program -- especially if the results of its soon-to-be-concluded assessment fall short of expectations."