Kendall Questions Number of Army Modernization Programs

Kendall Questions Number of Army Modernization Programs

The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer said he’s “concerned” about the number of new weapons program within the Defense Department, especially those within the Army.

The Army has had to cut a number of programs — notably the Ground Combat Vehicle — even as the service slashes end strength numbers to meet budget goals. Service officials remain committed to replacing the M113 with the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, but that is a modernization program that remains in danger.

Undersecretary Frank Kendall used the production of armored vehicles as an example of a weak point in a defense industry that he said sits as a major concern for the Defense Department. Congress has long complained about the Army’s plans to halt the production of tanks in light of the limited number of factories and workers trained to produce them.


Kendall said Wednesday he’s similarly worried about the small number of factories capable of producing armored vehicles. The undersecrtary’s comments may come as a surprise to Army leaders frustrated that few of their modernization priorities have been green-lighted.

While expensive programs like the Joint Strike Fighter continue to receive budgetary protection, more most weapons or vehicle programs like the GCV have fallen under the ax. Many have questioned if the Army is receiving the right amount of attention after it has spent the past 13 years fighting ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Army is not limited to ground vehicles in its modernization portfolio. It is also pursuing an ambitions program to replace the radio architecture on the battlefield. However, that program has faced many of the same problems other new programs in the Army have suffered.

– Update: An earlier version incorrectly stated that the AMPV would be replacing the Bradley. It is replacing the M113.

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Now I am confused.
For the life of me, I was under the impression the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) was in fact a program to replace the Army’s fleet of M113s & their variants, not the Bradley.
As BAE is offering a Bradley derivative for the AMPV program, and this vehicle is seen as the expected selection, it would seem impossible that the program is intended to replace the Bradley IFV.

Perhaps Mr. Hoffman will enlighten us as to if this was merely an editorial failure on his & Military.com’s part, or that the Honorable Mr. Kendall provided this obviously erroneous information.
If the information was incorrectly provided by the Honorable Mr. Kendall, I would hope Mr. Hoffman would now proceed to contact his office for some clarification.

I’m pretty certain you’re correct. AMPV is supposed to replace remaining M113s while GCV was previously intended to replace the M2 infantry fighting vehicle with a new design.

Kendall should be concerned with the F-35 program which dominates the DoD budget and continues to flounder. They should seriously consider taking a big chunk of F-35 budget and moving it to LRS-B as it will be the ONLY effective manned platform if we need to stike a near peer. 80 to 100 LRS-Bs is not nearly enough. Then take another chunck of F-35 budget and put it into high speed long range missiles.

Dont matter show Army brass has a warped view on what it wants, more or less scrap everything because its still effective its just not new. We dont need new APCs, we have better IFV and APCs than Russia or China offer. Overall I think we need to save more troops and can this modernization crap for a while so we can keep a larger army in play.

Kendall is also waiting for an answer from the ARMY on why they feel its better to use a twin-engine, advanced helicopter the costs $2500/hr fly to teach primary helicopter training when every service, including the ARMY, currently uses a more cost efficient and effective single engine helicopter primary trainer.

Oh yeah.… and the Army needs to buy $800M worth additional helicopters to accomplish their plan for everyone who says its because they already own the aircraft so it makes sense.

Kendall is finally starting to realize that no SERVICE is paying any attention to his policy guidance whether its v2.0 or v3.0 or v4.0 .….…..

+1 for Puffer’s comments.

Part of the issue with the Army’s acquisition programs is that they can’t clearly identify the problem with what they have now. Other than weight and being logistically hungry beasts, the M1 and M2 series vehicles are excellent platforms. Even the Humvee is still a great vehicle for it’s original intended purpose (Hint: It was never meant to be a forward combat vehicle).

Ugh, fuck congress…

(1) FormerDirtDart and WilliamC were right. The article author is confused or didn’t properly characterize the many Army programs Frank is worried about.

(2) But, as usual, Frank is off track. Every system requires modernization at some point. Cost effective to upgrade still good equipment (Puffer’s comment), but how fast we modernize is what’s creating the perceived funding threat. If we used a true “fly-before-you-buy” acquisition strategy, half the budget problem would vaporize.

Damn straight! As it is, we pay these f’ing contractors more to screw up and drag out these development contracts, plus we pay them the same profit margin on the low risk design phase of developing these vehicles as we do on the full up manufacturing of them and then we can’t figure out why they design vehicles that are so screwed up and we are all giddy when one after the other of these failures is cancelled before building a single weapon. These defense contractors think the US taxpayer in general (Taxpayer above being the obvious exception) are total morons. They laugh all the way to the bank.

You should read a few of the contracts before you condemn the contractors. If the govt. knew what they wanted and could articulate it clearly and without 8000 changes as the program proceeds, it would be a lot easier and less expensive and would result in a better product out the door. But that ain’t how it works. To all you critics out there, where in the hell were you when the paper was blank? (I know where you were, absent)

Editor, please fix the various spelling and grammar errors in your story, such as “undersecrtary’s”

yup. the Congress sets the acquisition rules, DoD establishes the contract requirements and then selects the contractor to execute those requirements, and then oversees performance. When the legislative branch and executive branch control all aspects of acquisition, they have to take responsibility for the outcome.

Very often, the requirements are unclear, ambiguous, overly ambitious, and/or contradictory. As a result, the Gov’t ends up changing the requirements multiple times — which adds costs. Furthermore, sometimes the Gov’t doesn’t set the right evaluation criteria and picks the wrong contractor. Finally, the rules and regulations of acquisition are so complicated and contradictory that inefficiency is pretty much preordained.

Army requirements are supposed to be generated by TRADOC and executed by ASA(ALT). TRADOC doesn’t have the intellectual talent to consistently come up with good requirements, and ASA(ALT) is neutered by the various reviews and contradictory rules/regs. Plus ASA(ALT) doesn’t have the engineering intellectual talent to really know what industry is proposing in many cases.

An example of contradictory regs is that program offices must obligate their appropriated funds on certain timelines (.e.g hypothetical example 89% of 3-year OPA funds obligated in the first year), or ABO starts to threaten to take the funds. Yet there are also thousands of pages of checks and balances that program offices are also supposed to execute, but complying with those regs might make them lose the funds to ABO because they aren’t making their obligation rates on time. So they take shortcuts on testing or some other regulatory requirement.

Congress sets the acquisition rules. DoD writes the requirements and selects the contractor to perform the requirements. If you set the rules, write the requirements, and select the contractor, and the program has a problem, look in the mirror — the problem is the Government.

I somewhat agree with the comment about “if the gov knew what they wanted,” however, in most cases the gov has other contractors writing these SOWs and PWS and it drives me crazy because when I’ve sat in those discussions some of those guys swear they know everything because they claim they have been doing the work for 20 yrs. Yeah that’s what the system is so broken is why I think! They don’t even check for the latest statutory or regulatory information.

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