FCS Not Killed: Casey

FCS Not Killed: Casey

Speaking before the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Army Chief Gen. George Casey said the FCS program had not yet been terminated, contradicting recent press reports. Speaking at a Washington event, Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter said yesterday that DoD cancelled the entire FCS program, not just the manned ground vehicles. Casey told lawmakers that was not the case (the hearing webcast can be viewed here).

“The FCS program was not terminated. It was the manned ground vehicle portion that was terminated. Everything else continues to go forward,” albeit after the program has once again been restructured, Casey said.

Asked by SASC chair Senator Carl Levin whether he agreed with Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ decision to cancel the FCS vehicles, Casey said: “I supported it; I did not agree with it.” The fundamental point of disagreement, he said, was whether the vehicle design included sufficient protection against IEDs.


Battlefield experience in Iraq showed that flat bottomed vehicles with low ground clearance, such as the Humvee, were ill-protected against IEDs because the flat bottom created a gas trap that concentrated, rather than dissipated, the blast. The V-shaped hull on the MRAP class of vehicles, a design borrowed from South African wheeled troop carriers, is designed to deflect the blast outwards and away from the crew compartment.

“The original design of the vehicle, and we need to be upfront with this, when we started designing the FCS program, it was designed to fight conventional wars, we thought conventional war would be fought in the 21st century. That’s clearly changed,” Casey said. That’s a pretty big admission as the previous Army leadership for years claimed FCS was designed to fight conventional and irregular wars, when it obviously wasn’t, and Casey deserves credit for his candor.

“The original design was a flat bottomed vehicle that was 18 inches off the ground. That was clearly not survivable in this environment. And so we built a V-shaped hull kit and we added onto the vehicle the capability to raise it and lower it,” so that it would fit inside a cargo aircraft, Casey said. “When it came down to the end of it I could not convince the secretary that we had done enough.”

“We have already begun building a new [vehicle] design,” Casey said, and the Army is focusing on a 5 to 7 year production goal for the new vehicles. Ranking member Senator John McCain said what concerned him most about FCS was the program’s 45 percent cost overruns. “With those kind of cost overruns we won’t be buying many of them.” Casey said the cost overruns were largely due to the Army increasing FCS program requirements to take into account lessons emerging from current wars and incorporate new technologies.

In the meantime, the acquisition system continues to grind on, no matter the status of the program. Boeing announced today that FCS passed its Systems of Systems Preliminary Design Review. The release is full of the usual acquisition mumble but does include the interesting information that review “validated that the designs for all FCS systems and subsystems, including the network, sensors, weapons and manned and unmanned vehicles, meet current requirements and will function as an integrated system of systems.” Given that much of that equipment will be incorporated on whatever the new ground vehicle is, that matters. According to the Boeing release, “the review proved that a family of networked systems will provide greater combat capabilities, including enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, across the full spectrum of conflict.” Now if the Army didn’t know that already then something was terribly wrong with the whole system.

Boeing’s FCS program manager, Gregg Martin, said the review “marks a major milestone for the program.” Well, sort of. But it’s not as big a milestone as Gates’ decision to cancel MGV.

Join the Conversation

Greg,

Isn’t it funny though that the flat-bottomed, 16″ off-the-ground EFV somehow will survive IEDs? Didn’t anyone look at the OIF Battle of Nasiriyah at what happened when lighter AAVs got stuck in mud and torn up by enemy (and friendly) fire, putting multiple Marines at risk? We also had heavy Marine M1s having to run off to get gas after helping Jessica Lynch and company, instead of supporting the AAVs. Gas-guzzlers create tactical nightmares.

Then we have the Canadian OEF LAV III example (and soon to be Stryker) where Leopards in Afghanistan were spending lots of time recovering stuck wheeled vehicles. Why is it also that lighter LAV III and Strykers are acceptable in an IED environment and heavier FCS MGV were not?

Then we have Ashton Carter confirming that the true cost of putting fuel into a vehicle in Afghanistan is $13 a gallon and $42 from an aerial tanker. Thus, fuel economy (and lack of future fuel) remain important future considerations…as we saw today when President Obama raised proposed fuel economy standards for U.S. cars to 35.5 mpg. Fuel is disappearing, and we cannot endanger logisticians going to all HEAVY replacement vehicles for FCS MGV.

So we are left with the dilemma that wheeled vehicles are more compatible with V-hulls but cannot support the kinds of weights required to survive against all future RPG/IED/ATGM/mm cannon threats. Add more weight…you have more wheeled vehicles getting stuck…the lesson of M-ATV vs MRAP.

I’ll be really interested to see what they come up with as a replacement MGV. I read they are killing funding for the 8–12 km mid-range tank munition. DUMB. Reduce the number of future heavy tanks, not the munitions that let fewer of them reach out further against fewer enemy armored vehicles.

The band-track and hybrid-electric drive had the potential to revolutionize attacks and recon/security missions in the silent electric drive mode. Are they going to throw that baby out with the bathwater, like they apparently have with active protection funding?

Plus, the fact remains that existing M1/M2/M3/M1109A6 vehicles do not produce sufficient electricity to support all the FCS spin outs of comms, sensors, and processing equipment. I’ll be interested to see where they propose to put Class I UAVs on an M1 and M2/M3. You still can’t carry a 9-man dismounted squad on a Bradley.

Then in the briefing to the House Armed Services Committee, the big guys dispute that the Army actually received a 2% cut in funding by saying that they got personnel increases that represented dollars. That is just a recognition that the Army deploys more and will continue to in the future. Why should that be counted against Army modernization accounts/totals?

Anyway you look at it, the Navy and Marines came out smelling like roses, the USAF gets its F-35 modernization on track that cost far more than FCS, and the Army is left with future promises. All I know, is the Crusader and NLOS-C got cut. The Comanche and ARH got cut even though ARH cost 1/6th of a V-22. Promises to the ever-deploying Army never seem to include near-term resolution.

Good post that pretty much sums it up.

Cole I thought the EFV was to be used to transport Marines to shore? I didn’t know the enemy has begun placing IEDs on the shoreline.

But for that one minor problem, everything else you said makes full sense.

Also you say current vehicles are gas guzzlers that need to refuel every mile or so, I agree this is a problem, but what about the new MGVs running on electricity? Are they suppose to stop in the middle of no where and find a power outlet to plug into and wait hours for it to recharge? You can’t find a plug to charge up in Afghanistan. And in Iraq, their power grid is pushed beyond its limits, adding hundreds of Army vehicles to that would cause blackouts.

I’d love to hear your response, and how these problems can be fixed, or if these problems are non existent.

Zach, the EFV is expected to bring 17 sea-sick Marines and the crew to shore from probably 50+ miles out to avoid shore-to-ship missiles. It then is expected to spend 99% of its time fighting multiple places on shore, where no doubt the enemy has placed minefields and IEDs on and off road. It is protected only against 14.5mm machine gun. It weighs far more than the AAVs that got stuck at the Battle of Nasiriyah.

The FCS MGV was HYBRID-ELECTRIC drive just like all the cars you see running around. In other words, a small diesel engine charges the batteries that run the electric motor that powers the vehicles band tracks.

If we had all M1 sized MGVs we would need 6 times as many fuel trucks driving around getting blown up. So you essentially safeguard one group of combat arms Soldiers to a greater degree while exposing another group of logisticians to more danger.

Until OSD issues an Acquisition Decision Memorandum, the Army is obligated to continue the FCS program of record. The review that was conducted “snaps the chalk line” on all FCS designs, meaning that they are ready to continue on the road to the Critical Design Review and a Milestone C decision. All of this effort now was done to reduce risk LATER in the program. This is the opposite of all other acquisition programs. All the work to date will inform the new Ground Combat Vehicle effort that the Army is beginning as well as the expansion and acceleration of the FCS Spin Outs to all Army brigade combat teams.

What seems to have escaped the author’s sarcasm is that was validated not just by Army acquisition and FCS team but by the end user or Soldier representatives at the FFID and AETF at Fort Bliss. Considering that MG Terry and most of the soldiers at the AETF are combat vets, do you really think they gave it a pass when they themselves will be using this equipment in the future? MG Terry is slated to take command of 10th Mountain very shortly. It is very likely he will be taking them into combat. They don’t work for the acquisition side of the Army or the PM. If it didn’t work, they would say so.

Folks seem to miss how truly revolutionary FCS is. Instead of designing a new tank or a new artillery piece or a new infantry carrier in isolation, the Army and its partners have designed an entire brigade’s worth of capabilities from the ground up. The program pushes the envelope but I guess stovepiped acquisition will be back in style…

The real issue comes down to what you assume is your biggest threats and most likely future scenarios and the trade offs made for armored vehicles you purchase. For instance, the USMC rightly in my mind, believes that the amphibious capability of the EFV is paramount. So the fact that it has only 16″ of ground clearance and a flat bottom is weighed against its ability to rapidly build up combat power ashore. Since the EFV is designed to support amphibious assault, it is unlikely to face IEDs. The ability to meet Ship to Objective Maneuver (STOM) requirements (like fitting on the ships!) are more important than COIN requirements. When it may face IEDs (later in a conflict), you either add on kits (which are admittedly not as effective as a dedicated vehicle) or you change out your equipment (perhaps to the 1000s of left over M-ATVs and MRAPs in astorage somewhere). For the future USMC Amphibious mission (STOM), the EFV (or something like it) reflects the trade-offs they are willing to make. The same argument could be made for the NLOS-C. In a conventional or even hybrid warfare scenario, the NLOS-C will be at, hopefully, secure fairebases (i.e. no IEDs) or behind the lines, I am not sure of the logic of not proceeding with at least that part of FCS ground vehicle program except that the Army clearly feels the currently deployed guns, perhaps with the new fire control network, are good enough so that the argument for a standard ground vehicle is more important than deploying the NLOS-C system today. Last I checked, the M-109s and M198/M777s (which are towed by TRUCKS!) were not being destroyed by IEDs (or anything else) in great numbers in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Remember, better is the worst enemy of good enough.
Clearly, the army has decided that its future armoured vehicle needs to be more capable in COIN scenarios then what they could develop into the existing FCS ground vehicle, so it makes sense to cancel that part of the program and work on something else that better meets your requirements. The important thing to note is that the Army is not throwing the baby out with the bath water. The networked sensors and other advanced concepts under development will be deployed to all brigades and they will still work fine on the new, more COIN friendly, vehicle (assuming they can make the radios work correctly). Feel free to argue that the priorities are wrong, but if you assume that the Army/DoD was correct in the nature of future conflicts, then it is hard to argue that they didn’t make the correct choice. To quote the former SECDEF, “You go to war with the Army that you have”. It reflects the all the trade-offs you have made over the years in protection, tactical mobility, firepower, strategic mobility, sustainability, affordability, producability, and a whole slew of other –ility buzzwords to best meet your projected threats in the future.

so your telling me trucks pulling artillary are less likely to be targeted by IED’s? give me a break!

Armywonk,

I hear that Acquisition Decision Memorandum could be coming tomorrow???

jimbo,
You miss the point of the post. I was saying the current artillery is good enough. They are less at risk of attack from IEDs (and for that matter air attack, counter battery, etc) because of the nature of their employment (and total US air dominance) so protection from IEDs (and counterbattery, etc) is usually a lower priority. Most of them are currently either in storage (since you don’t need as much fire support) or in a protected firebase. In a fashion, since they don’t move around a lot, yes, they are less at risk from IEDs than vehicles and personnel that do routinely travel along the roads. Can you give me any instances when M198/M777s have been lost due to IEDs? If what you have today is good enough, then the imperative to get something better, right now at increased cost, is reduced and the benefit of having a common vehicle (and having increased resources available for other programs) outways the increased risk of not fielding NLOS-C for a few more years.

Gates has received his marching orders from obama – create a force that can be a meals on wheels delivery service for people like obama’s brother who lives in a hut, but eliminate any power projection capability that might be useful for America’s national interest such as an expeditionary force which could defend the Georgians, Poles or Taiwanese against obama’s Marxist allies….

Who exactly is the enemy that requires FCS to survive against IED’s without a 12 km mid-range tank munition that would devastate T-80 — BMP class vehicles ?

Barry is the problem….

Killing the EFV for fear of IEDs seems extremely short-sighted, probably purposefully so.

As to FCS, FCS got gutted for one simple reason — Obama. Obama made a campaign pledge to hobble FCS to satisfy the Left … and he fulfilled that pledge.

Back to the EFV, for lefties like Obama, reducing the Marines ability to kick down doors is a feature, not a bug. Obama and the American Left thinks the world would be a lot better place if the US wasn’t quite so good at kicking down doors.

cvn and jim, you ought to open a comedy act for the RNC. It’s a shame you can’t see the obvious, that it was Rumsfeld and Gates who killed the FCS concept, not any “lefties” or Obama campaign promises. The Army aimed too high, let the program costs get away from them, and Gates is hell-bent on giving the ground forces as many MRAPs as they can handle, so they can waddle through towns and not go cross-country for fear of bogging down. Get a grip.

I love Gen. Casey’s “I supported it; I did not agree with it.” Such pure Army thinking and expression and sincerity. That’s the Army I remember, flat-bottomed vehicles and all.

The thing y’all are overlooking in focusing on the vehicles is the SOFTWARE. Boeing rejected using COTS middleware solutions already industry-proven to go their own way. They’re stitching together all kinds of open source dogs and cats, and spending tons of engineering dollars on integration and new code. The worst part is that their maintenance costs going forward will be completely borne by the FCS program, without being able to leverage any industry/commercial investment. Expect to see software cost costs soar and capabilities be limited.

Boeing = Over-promise and Under-Deliver

They were peddling that same SOSCOE foolishness to SBINET and it didn’t work there either. Based on past experience with Boeing, I would be surprised if the SOS test results are as good as advertised.

I think it’s funny that somebody lied about the whole program being canceled. Check your source of information first.

wtpworrier,
Don’t shoot the messenger. There were several sources that reported that FCS was entirely cancelled. It came from a direct quote. Anyway, FCS as we know it is being cancelled. It’s being restructured and will probably not even be referred to as FCS in the future.

In my opinion FCS should define the network interface and let weapon developers build to that interface. This will encourage corporations to do some work on their own nickle and will result in a large number of solutions. If we are always trying to chase the latest “lessons learned” via the standard acquisition process we will never catch up. By the time the “new” MGV is fielded conditions will change.

Wow FCS is great’n all, but why can’t we just get this over with..

Has anyone heard if the Acquisition Decision Memo has come out yet?

29 May, still waiting.

If you read between the lines of all the comments, you begin to see what went wrong with FCS MGV, as well as most major procurements — too many people expect it to solve all the problems. The simple (and to bureaucrats, unfathomable) truth is that there is no single vehicle that will do the job in all environments.

Just an idea… How about basing a future force on the CV90. There are versions of this vehicle that can fill all of the combat roles from tank to IFV, to mortar, to APC, and engineering and air defence variants as well. You could incorporate some of the FCS spin-outs such as hybrid drive, band tracks, and active protection into an already battle proven vehicle while decreasing logisitics burdens with the common vehicle. In addition you could also reuse the m242s from the decommisioning bradleys in an ows25 turret for the Stykers and move the Protector systems to the MRAPS thus increaing the available firepower up and down the various brigades. Just an idea…

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