The $87 billion Manned Ground Vehicle Program will probably be killed this week, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee Tuesday morning.
Army Secretary Pete Geren also clarified one point that is sure to raise the hackles of Sen. James Inhofe -- the Non Line of Sight Cannon was killed as well. Inhofe had the NLOC made a separate program in large part to protect it from any cuts made to FCS. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the decision that killing MGV also meant killing the NLOS-C, Geren said today.
An Acquisition Decision Memorandum should be out this week, splitting the Manned ground Vehicle from the rest of the FCS program and killing MGV, Casey told the subcommittee. He said they have already instructed Training and Doctrine Command to being drawing up new requirements. A new program outline for a new ground vehicle should be ready "after Labor Day," Casey said. The military will consider foreign vehicles, though Casey seemed reluctant to commit to the idea of buying one should it look tempting. (While the Army has bought excellent equipment from overseas in the past, it has been badly burned before over buying from foreign suppliers -- remember those black berets made in China.... ) The first vehicles should roll out of the plant within five to seven years.
Sec. Gates and his budget experts have made very clear they expect MRAP will be a major part of the new approach to FCS. Casey and Geren were very cautious in responding to reporters questions about this after the hearing. "We are working to incorporate the MRAP" into whatever approach the Army comes up with, Geren said. And Casey said the Army is already putting networked MRAPs -- with other FCS spinouts -- into testing at Fort Bliss.
One thing may stay the same with the new ground combat vehicle -- a single chassis, which Casey said had clear logistics payoffs.
Finally, one of my colleagues asked Casey whether he would provide an unfunded requirements list to Congress. Gates has made clear he does not want to be blindsided by the lists -- a perennial favorite of both Congress and the services since it allows the services to circumvent the budget process and OSD in asking for money -- and Casey expressed admirable frustration with the process. "I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to kill that whole idea," Casey said. "Almost?" I asked. "Almost," Casey said to appreciative laughter from the gaggle. Look for an unfunded requirements list from the Army, coming soon.