Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno warned Monday that the Ground Combat Vehicle, one of the Army's top modernization priorities, might have to be delayed or possibly even canceled because of the sequestration budget cuts.
"I'm very concerned about it," Odierno said of the GCV, the planned replacement for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. "We might have to delay it because of the budget cuts."
He wouldn't rule out the possible cancelation of the GCV program during a speech he made at the American Enterprise Institute forum, a Washington D.C. based think thank.
"Because of the sequester cuts, we have to consider everything," Odierno said.
Odierno said the Army was counting on the GCV "because the Bradley just didn't perform the way we wanted it to in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Our soldiers were very vulnerable," Odierno said. "We need something better than that."
Sequestration knocked $37 billion out of the defense budget for Fiscal Year 2013 and is projected to take another $52 billion from defense spending in FY14 if Congress and the White House fail to reach a compromise on deficit reduction. If allowed to continue, sequestration would take more than $1 trillion -- about $500 billion in defense spending -- from overall federal budgets in the next 10 years.
The Army has been seeking about $29 billion between 2014 and 2030 for more than 1,700 GCVs to replace the Bradleys. In April, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report on the GCV program including a recommendation that the Army should consider upgrading the Bradleys rather than fielding new GCVs as a cost-saving measure.
Buying the German-made Puma infantry fighting vehicle or upgrading the Bradleys "would cost $14 billion and $9 billion less, respectively, than the Army's program for the GCV and would pose less risk of cost overruns and schedule delays," the CBO said.
The CBO analysts said that upgrading the Bradleys would offer "no improvement over the fleet's current capability," but it would allow the money to be spent on other Army priorities.