Given the Army's record of fumbling big procurement programs, I think everybody would be well served if Congress or Defense Secretary Robert Gates named an outside commission with no ties to Boeing to examine FCS and tell us in plain English where the systems are now and where they should go next in the light of budget constraints.
Members of the panel that wowed the Senate Armed Services Committee April 17 should be candidates for this truth squad. They were retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey; historian and retired Maj. Gen. Robert Scales; former Pentagon manpower chief Larry Korb, and Krepinevich.
I would add former Defense secretaries Melvin Laird, a master of the art of the possible, and William Perry, who has great technical smarts and speaks plain English; Thomas Christie, the former Pentagon chief of operational testing who can see through Army smoke, and Robert Chapman, who as former Vice President Al Gore's point man got the Big Three auto companies to agree to build a fuel efficient car -- only to have the effort derailed by the Bush administration.
The royal commission need not go outside the Beltway to blow away the smoke hanging over the FCS and to think outside the box.
For starters, why not bring in Iraqi military experts and ask them what kind of vehicle they would like to help pacify their country after American troops left?
Let the ailing Big Three auto companies build hundreds of the vehicles in a hurry for Iraq, broadening the political and industrial base of support for FCS and providing a test bed for the vehicle the Army could order for itself.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Future Combat System
Forward Observer's thoughts on how the Army should respond to Congress's cut of $876 million from the Future Combat System program.