Tags: army | procurement | optionally manned fighting vehicle

Army Modernization Critical to National Security

Army Modernization Critical to National Security
Members of the U.S. Army park a Bradley fighting vehicle in front of the Lincoln Memorial ahead of the Fourth of July "Salute to America" celebration on July 3, 2019 in Washington, D.C. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Friday, 27 September 2019 02:30 PM Current | Bio | Archive

According to Hollywood movies, or even armed forces recruiting commercials, the military is made up of warfighters charging into danger, bringing the battle to the enemy. But in reality, the vast majority of uniformed personnel are behind the lines, organizing and maintaining the fighting force.

Hence, Dwight D. Eisenhower, a logistics expert, was the Supreme Allied Commander of the Second World War. This principle, that a military succeeds or fails based on the work done behind the scenes, remains as true today, as ever.

This is why current American military leaders are working hard to modernize our armed forces. One critical component of this effort is the procurement process. In fact, any day now the Army is set to release its updated Modernization Strategy, which, according to Army Futures Command (AFC) Deputy Commander General Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, seeks to “reduce the time to deliver new weapons systems by integrating representatives from program management, finance, testing, science and technology.”

Anyone who has spent enough time in Washington, or the military, understands just how complex — let’s be honest — and screwed up the procurement process is. Every year, billions of dollars are wasted on military programs that work, but run massively over budget or on systems so fouled up they never even get deployed.

Now, the Army is seeking to upgrade their Infantry Fighting Vehicle, also known as the Bradley. To date, the process to replace this critical component for our troops has been delayed for over a decade.

In fact, the Army’s land-warfare service spent over $20 billion on two ambitious earlier programs, the Future Combat System and the Ground Combat Vehicle, which both failed to yield results before being canceled. Now the Army is working the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) as a replacement to the Bradley fleet.

After some false starts in the acquisition process, any day now the Army should be fielding proposals from defense contractors. However, the aggressive timeline Futures Command is pushing to get this done in may be compromising capability.

No doubt the Army needs to get faster and bringing online capabilities for the warfighter, while providing value to the taxpayer. But if the Army is looking to replace the entire fleet, getting it right, with capability and technology that’s forward-looking should be priority number one.

At a recent public event at the Brookings Institute, a think-tank in Washington, I asked General Wesley how he would balance staying on a rapid procurement schedule versus ensuring a competitive process for defense contractors who will build the new Bradley. To summarize his answer as accurately as I can, he stated that the Congress gave the Pentagon the authority to act more rapidly and that this is important because our adversaries are not constrained by all the aspects of our highly complex procurement process.

A fair answer, and no doubt he has a difficult job ahead of him. But requiring defense contractors hoping to build the replacement for the Bradley to respond so quickly to a Request for Proposal could be problematic. In fact, the incumbent builder of the Bradley has dropped out of the OMFV competition as have others. In other words, decreased competition, which typically is not a good sign to ensure high quality and control costs.

Lastly, we’re not the only military service that needs new fighting vehicles. With similarly aged technology Australia recently took on a similar acquisition. Their requirements were incredibly straightforward and simple — allowing them to receive four great proposals they down-selected to two.

The Australians did it efficiently, but also understand rushing it would not yield them what the warfighter needs for today and tomorrow and extended their timeline slightly to ensure prototypes are the best they can be. Maybe we should take a page from their book when it comes to OMFV?

As someone who enlisted in the Army, and served in the second Iraq War, it was and remains upsetting to hear how much money is wasted in the procurement process; especially when warfighters are paid barely enough to be middle-class.

As the Army considers its options for OMFV it’s important they look at the whole picture. As a veteran who deployed, sure, I want my colleagues to have this technology as quickly as possible, but capability shouldn’t be compromised for timeline. Balancing the two priorities is the only way the Army can successfully modernize.

Christopher Neiweem is the Founder of Neiweem Group, an Iraq War Veteran, and Political Strategist. He has testified in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as an expert witness numerous times in front many congressional committees. These topics range from defense, veterans, commerce, education, and military personnel. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and other news shows as a guest commentator and has worked on several political campaigns. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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According to Hollywood movies, or even armed forces recruiting commercials, the military is made up of warfighters charging into danger, bringing the battle to the enemy.
army, procurement, optionally manned fighting vehicle
Friday, 27 September 2019 02:30 PM
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