A GCV Defense

By Tony Bertuca / December 6, 2010 at 8:30 PM

Lt. Gen. Michael Vane, the deputy commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command and director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, is responding today to critics at the Lexington Institute who have disparaged the Army's vehicle modernization strategy and, in particular, the new plan for the Ground Combat Vehicle. Lexington COO and defense consultant Loren Thompson has called GCV “doomed” due to what he says are high costs (approximately $10 million per vehicle) and a contract configuration that will disincentive industry.

In a message posted today on the Lexington Institute's blog, Vane argues that the GCV is a “pretty good deal” given the added value of delivering a full squad (nine soldiers) across the full spectrum of operations.

“Affordability arguments are always related to how much money one has and what the effect is on the operation,” Vane wrote. “It is hard to argue that any force other than the Army (which includes Special Forces) does as much engagement with our friends and enemies and makes as much difference. So, $10 million for nine soldiers that actually engage the enemy directly in this conflict and nearly every conceivable conflict in the future is not a pretty good deal? It think it compares very favorably to a joint strike fighter, a littoral combat ship, or a submarine.”

A TRADOC spokeswoman authenticated Vane's blog post today and a link to it was posted on ARCIC's Facebook page.

In the post, Vane also says there should be more optimism about the future of modernization and suggests that industry should “get hungrier” to meet the challenges posed by 21st Century Army modernization.

“Acquisition changes that are occurring will mean more accountability, more real competition, and an increasing awareness of industry's need to change how it operates,” he wrote. “[Industry needs to] get hungrier, perhaps, and pay more attention to global initiatives in other countries that are challenging areas where the United States had held a lead in technology development and innovation.”

Vane also says the Army's vehicle portfolio reviews have resulted in the crafting of a modernization strategy that will assist industry as never before.

“The size of the combat and tactical wheeled vehicle fleets remains fairly constant throughout all this, particularly with the operationalization of the reserve component,” he wrote. “The size of the Army could be an issue in the future, but we are arguing hard to make our 547,000 soldier active-duty component and 1,100,000 soldier total force as effective and efficient as we can, and expect the resulting budget to be fairly flat. This leaves money, increased opportunity for investment, and a more coherent strategy than ever for our industry brethren. That should give rise to a positive view for the industrial base and affordability questions, in my opinion.”

Overall, Vane argues, the Army has a “more coherent modernization strategy today than it had for much of the past decade.”

“The plan has been developed in considerable detail,” he wrote. “It reflects a more or less flat budget and targets for platform costs in quantities driven by best estimates of the available supply of brigade combat teams to meet whatever national strategy evolves. Looking out at possible scenarios and strategies to reflect the range of possible alternate futures and operating environments, we have reversed the flawed approach of trying to optimize for any single possible future and put forth succinctly 'what an Army must do' and how it must do it operationally -- combined arms maneuver and wide area security per our published and widely accepted concepts.”

Vane write that the Army's new combat vehicle and network strategies are “nearly complete, reflecting affordable, integrated plans linked directly to capability gaps in the present force.” He states that the service's tactical wheeled vehicle strategy is “largely complete” and will be finished soon.