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THE TIMES TAKES ON "FUTURE COMBAT"

Ever since it was just a wee little $92 billion program, Defense Tech has been ranting about the spiraling costs and doe-eyed expectations behind Future Combat Systems, the Army's gargantuan modernization plan. Now that the project -- meant to almost reinvent just about every aspect of warfighting, almost simultaneously -- is moving north of $145 billion, the New York Times is finally starting to take notice.

nlos_c.jpgThe Army's plan to transform itself into a futuristic high-technology force has become so expensive that some of the military's strongest supporters in Congress are questioning the program's costs and complexity.Army officials said Saturday that the first phase of the program, called Future Combat Systems, could run to $145 billion [click here for details]. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said the "technological bridge to the future" would equip 15 brigades of roughly 3,000 soldiers, or about one-third of the force the Army plans to field...That price tag, larger than past estimates publicly disclosed by the Army, does not include a projected $25 billion for the communications network needed to connect the future forces. Nor does it fully account for Army plans to provide Future Combat weapons and technologies to forces beyond those first 15 brigades.Now some of the military's advocates in Congress are asking how to pay the bill."We're dealing today with a train wreck," Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a March 16 Congressional hearing on the cost and complexity of Future Combat Systems."We're left with impossible decisions," said Mr. Weldon, a strong supporter of Pentagon spending. One of those choices, he warned, might cut back Future Combat.
Good idea, Curt. What took you so long?THERE'S MORE: "But there's another, more serious issue, which the Times' otherwise excellent story doesn't explore," says Slate's Fred Kaplan. "Even if all the technical problems could be solved and the costs brought under control, the Army may be tumbling down the wrong road; Future Combat Systems may not address the true nature and needs of future combat."AND MORE: Project on Government Oversight piles on, too.
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