The Lexington Institute has recently criticized Army plans for modernizing its tracked and wheeled vehicles. Lt. Gen. Michael A. Vane, a key leader in the development of Army plans for the future, sent Lexington the following comments explaining how vehicle modernization plans were developed. Lt. Gen. Vane is Deputy Commanding General of the Training and Doctrine Command for Futures, and Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center. In those capacities, he plays a central role in designing the ground force of tomorrow.
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The Army has a more coherent modernization strategy today than it had for much of the past decade. I have served in positions on the Army Staff and the Joint Staff where I participated in reviewing and forming the current strategy. The combat vehicle and network strategies are nearly complete, reflecting affordable, integrated plans linked directly to capability gaps in the present force. Tactical wheeled vehicle strategy is largely complete and will be finished shortly. Improvements to our existing fleet of Stryker, Paladin, Abrams and non-IFV Bradleys reflect the need to gain mobile armored protection; provide for growth in space, weight and power; and incrementally improve lethality, fuel efficiency and reliability.
The plan has been developed in considerable detail. 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. This, along with existing overmatch in air and sea capabilities of joint forces, and our previous overmatch on land in major contingency operations, drives our need to maintain those capabilities and increase our ability to overmatch in hybrid and stability operations as well.
These operating environments are characterized not only by force on force, armored formations of nation states and operating through proxy, but increasingly, by non-state actors who operate in and among the people without uniforms or marked vehicles — and who use niche capabilities like improvised explosive devices to attack our national will. This drives us to gaining overmatch and advantage for land operations by Army forces with versatile vehicles that can carry an entire squad to position of advantage and engage the enemy through direct influence, kill, capture or information exchanges. No other forces in the air or sea domains do this on the scale that the Army does.
Affordability arguments are always related to how much money one has and what the effect is on the operation. 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 [the projected cost of a next-generation Ground Combat Vehicle] 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.
The size of the combat and tactical wheeled vehicle fleets remains fairly constant throughout all this, particularly with the operationalization of the reserve component. 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. 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. [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.
I look forward to continued engagement and dialogue. This is the only Army the Nation has, and it requires constant debate and support to help keep us pointed in the right directions.
Michael A. Vane
Lieutenant General, United States Army
Deputy Commanding General Futures
Director Army Capabilities Integration Center
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