MRAPS

WASHINGTON: As the wars draw down and budgets shrink, the massive Army Materiel Command — 70,000 military and civilian personnel at arsenals, depots, and other facilities in all 50 states — is shifting gears and taking on new missions.

Some longstanding efforts are winding down, explained Lt. Gen. Patricia McQuistion, AMC’s new deputy commander, at a breakfast hosted this morning by the Association of the US Army. The command is buying less ammunition and more of what it buys will be training ammo as opposed to live rounds for combat. Likewise, after a massive investment in uparmored Humvees and MRAPs, the Army has more trucks than it expects to need, and it’s up to AMC to get rid of them. “As tactical wheeled vehicles come down, we’ll be able to divest some of those,” McQuistion said. Keep reading →

The Army’s new, streamlined approach to improving its battlefield networks took a big step forward this week when five MRAP armored trucks with the latest digital communications gear shipped out to be tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

Testing at Aberdeen is the last major hurdle before fielding what’s called “Capability Set 13″ to Afghanistan-bound soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division this October. It comes just six months after design work began on the vehicle upgrades and just three months after the proposed technologies underwent extensive testing in the New Mexico desert under the new “Network Integration Evaluation” process, which a recent Defense Business Board report held up as a model for more rapid acquisition of new technology. Keep reading →

[updated 4:00 pm with AM General comment] The Army and Marines took a big step towards replacing their vulnerable Humvees and lumbering MRAPs yesterday evening when they awarded contracts to defense giant Lockheed Martin, truck maker Oshkosh, and Humvee manufacturer AM General to develop alternatives for a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).

The military wants the JLTV to combine the offroad mobility of an unarmored Humvee with the protection against mines and roadside bombs of the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) trucks. It’s hard to demonstrate protection to reporters without trying to blow them up, but on Wednesday — just hours before the award announcement — Oshkosh Corp. demonstrated the mobility of its JLTV candidate, which the company calls the L-ATV, by giving reporters a ride. Keep reading →

After years of ups and downs and threats of cancellation, the Army and Marines are about to award contracts to develop a new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle to replace the venerable and vulnerable Humvee. In an exclusive interview with Breaking Defense, retired Vice Chief of Army Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli — the man who did more than anyone to save the JLTV from cancellation — argued that the new armored truck is critical not just to protect US troops but to carry the fight to the enemy in future wars.

“When I was vice [chief of staff], we were about ready to lose JLTV because of the cost; the Marine corps and the Army were heading in two different directions; and it was really [Marine Corps Assistant Commandant] Joe Dunford and I who said wait a second, we really need this vehicle, we can’t afford this service parochialism,” Chiarelli recalled. Keep reading →


PENTAGON: The Army showed off an impressive array of battlefield wi-fi gadgetry today in the Pentagon courtyard, exhibiting new-found realism about what gadgets it might not need.

Consider the hardware to connect the individual foot soldier to the brigade-wide command network, which has been stripped down from a 14-pound prototype to a militarized smartphone plugged into a handheld radio. Keep reading →


WASHINGTON: On the margins of the $550-plus billion defense budget, the Army and the defense industry are quietly working on a program that could potentially replace 3,000 geriatric armored vehicles. So far, in this year’s budget, Congress is going along, but the real money — and the real battle — loom in the years to come.

The $1.7 billion Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) program is the Army’s blandly named initiative to replace the M113, an all-too-lightly armored transport — sometimes called a “battle taxi” — that first entered service in 1961. Over 3,000 M113 variants serve in a host of unglamorous but essential roles from troop carriers to armored ambulances to mobile command posts. Keep reading →

Washington: The fleet of up-armored, bomb-resistant vehicles DoD flooded onto the battlefield in recent years has saved the lives of untold numbers of American soldiers.

Trucks like the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle and the up-armored Humvee have given U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan a significant edge. But getting these massive trucks off the field once they have been hit has become a difficult and sometimes deadly task. Keep reading →

Washington: The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle is not out of the woods yet, and could still be scrapped for a more affordable option if costs get out of control, the service’s top program official said today.

If program costs exceed the $10.5 million price tag per vehicle the Army is expecting for the GCV, then “potentially…a hard decision like that will have to be made” on whether to continue with the effort, program manager Col. Andrew DiMarco told reporters today. Keep reading →

Washington: Iraqi hand wringing on whether to keep American troops in country could force U.S. military commanders to take on the difficult task of readjusting the massive wave of men and materiel currently flowing out of Iraq.

American forces have already “stepped over” nearly 60 percent of DOD weapons and equipment to Iraqi security forces, and closed a total of 48 U.S. installations in country, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson, head of logistics for U.S. Forces Iraq, said today. Keep reading →

The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle program may be running aground before it can even sign a development contract. And that’s a tragedy. A decade of casualties from improvised roadside bombs – simple weapons easily replicated by any future enemy – has shown that what the U.S. military needs most is the very thing the Ground Combat Vehicle is supposed to provide: a better-protected way to move our troops around war zones that are only going to get more lethal.

The Army already rebooted the program on its own initiative last August, after industry said that meeting the original requirements for armor protection could only be met by an expensive juggernaut weighing 50 to 70 tons. The Army has also tightened its cost targets from $24 million per vehicle to $10 million. Nevertheless, at $40 billion for the program overall, key Defense Department officials still doubt that the military can afford it. The Defense Acquisition Board, which must approve any contract, has repeatedly postponed its meeting on the program and sent the Army back to do more homework to justify the GCV. The review finally happened July 21, and Ash Carter, head of military acquisition, did approve GCV’s first phase worth an estimated $1.35 billion, according to a Pentagon spokeswoman. Keep reading →

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