Chaired By: Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Witnesses: David G. Ahern, Director, Portfolio Systems Acquisition, Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Department of Defense; Lieutenant General N. Ross Thompson III, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology), U. S. Army; Lieutenant General Stephen M. Speakes, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army, G-8, U.S. Army
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REP. ABERCROMBIE: (In progress) -- thank you for being with us. We have some old friends here and new friends: Mr. Ahern, General Thompson and, of course, General Speakes. General Speakes has been my mentor and chief lecturer for some time now. I'm pleased to see him. Although I'm not sure that he thinks I've been a good pupil. That's the only thing.
The subcommittee meets today to receive testimony on the Army's acquisition and modernization budget request for fiscal year 2010. And I want to particularly welcome then, again, Dr. David Ahern. I said "Mister" yesterday, and I should have said doctor. No, you earned it, you deserve the title, or as -- it's not so?
MR. AHERN: No, sir, I'm a graduate of the Naval Academy.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I'm sorry.
MR. AHERN: That's all right.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I thought maybe I'd missed it in your biography.
MR. AHERN: (Laughs.) No, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
Nonetheless, you are in charge of the portfolio systems acquisition of the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.
I'm saying some of these things not because you don't know it but because this is for the public record. People are seeing it, and they may not be aware at all. This may be their first exposure.
So again, I thank the members and I thank those of us -- those of you who are here for indulging me a little bit if I seem to go into a lot of detail that many other people here already know. It's for the public record, and for those who may be observing and learning for the first time about a lot of these things.
General Thompson is the military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.
I hope, by the way, General Thompson, to show you that we actually do read testimony. The word friction, I understand, is a "Clausewitzian" term. And I hope it is not going to replace "logistics" as a phrase of art.
Friction to me means something working against each other, and particularly when it comes to the transportation side and supplying, I think the Army actually has it down pretty well. It may be difficult -- the logistics may be difficult, but I don't see it as friction in the Clausewitzian sense, okay? We'll get the theory out of the way.
And General Speakes, who is the deputy chief of staff. And again, General, thank you for your endless patience with me over the years. It's appreciated.
Although the president's budget request was finally delivered to Congress on May 11th, the full details on several major programs remain unclear pending further analysis by the Army.
Nonetheless, the Air and Land Forces Subcommittee markup of the fiscal year 2010 is just 21 days from today -- three weeks from today. I'm emphasizing that to you, gentlemen, this morning, because this extremely tight timeline means that the witnesses need to provide answers to members today and certainly within the next three weeks, not some point in the distant future.
I know you're working every day on this. I'm not giving you some kind of a task that has not already been assigned to you by the chief of staff, let alone the secretary of Defense. I'm sure there's a lot of double shifts being worked right now. So this is not meant to further burden you so much as it is to indicate that we are ready to receive whatever decision and recommendations that you have for us as soon as possible.
To facilitate these answers, then, the subcommittee specifically requested that the Army witnesses bring with them subject-matter experts on all the major programs facing changes in the budget so members could not hesitate to ask detailed questions. And so for new members that are here, I can assure you that General Thompson and General Speakes can state with authority the answers and the observations that they will give to you in response to your questions and/or observations.
While the Army's FY 2010 budget does not include significant -- does include significant changes to many programs, it is, overall -- and I wish to say this at the beginning -- I am saying these words with consideration -- a solid request that will provide the Army with what it needs. And I want to emphasize that, because obviously we may have some questions and differences to be resolved with regard to individual items or categories within the budget. But I want to emphasize to you, Mr. Ahern, and to both generals here, that I believe it's a solid request. And I believe it will provide the Army with what it needs.
The total of $41.1 billion for procurement and research and development demonstrates a commitment, I believe, to adequately fund the Army needs, while also being prudent about where the money is allocated.
Put in context, this total amount of $41-plus billion exceeds the entire budget request for the Department of State, Agriculture, Energy, Homeland Security, and just below the funding request for Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education.
So the emphasis here, I think, is where it needs to be so that we don't have friction with regard to maintenance and operations and deployments. That's what we have to try and avoid. And I think you're making a good-faith attempt to do that with this budget, as we have it so far.
However, despite this large amount of funding, the Army remains under significant pressure to support overseas operations.
To do so, the readiness of the most -- of most non-deployed units has been severely compromised.
While equipment stocks are not the only reason many units are not ready for combat, it's a major reason in many cases, I think you will agree.
There is also a large unknown requirement for repair of equipment coming out of Iraq. I expect the same will -- or this will be compounded by operations in Afghanistan, without even getting into the question of other contingencies that might arise.
So there is an unknown requirement, then, for repair of equipment and logistics with regard to equipment and deployment of personnel, as the size -- even though in Iraq the size of the U.S. force may in fact and probably is in fact going to decline.
The extent of this unknown cost hangs over all of the Army modernization plans, in my estimation, and may be significantly changed as the full cost of the war in Iraq becomes clear, particularly if it goes in the direction I think it might.
So I -- we're putting this mark together in three weeks trying to be fully cognizant of what I believe to be the fact that the Army may have cost implications that it has to deal with that are not anticipated -- or are anticipated to the best it can, given the budget document and the defense bill that we have before us.
But I'm well aware that we have to try to take into account -- how can we modernize and still take into account what you're going to need to handle the deployments and handle the equipment needs?
With regard to specific programs, the proposed changes to the Future Combat System will have the most impact on the Army's near-term budget needs and long-term modernization plans.
The House Armed Services Committee, under both Republican and Democratic leadership -- and I want to pay particular tribute today, on the record, to former Chairman Curt Weldon, under whose leadership I had the honor to serve as ranking member.
This is -- under his leadership, there was the first expressed doubts about the technical feasibility, the affordability and the wisdom of some of the aspects of this very complex and expensive program. Unfortunately, I believe that leadership all the way around, in the Congress and in the Pentagon, simply waited too long to address the fundamental contradictions for some of its own plans -- some of the Army's plans for the Future Combat System and how these plans related to plans to the modernization for the rest of the Army.
That said, the Army now faces dramatic changes imposed on the Future Combat System by the secretary of Defense that will require months of additional analysis, contract negotiations and leadership reviews to straighten out, all the while trying to explain why the program still needs almost $3 billion in fiscal year 2010.
However, the decision by Secretary Gates to terminate the manned ground vehicle portions of the Future Combat System program I believe was overdue. And it is the right decision. And I am not sure, though, that he has gone far enough.
While many questions remain, some aspects proposed for the reorganization of the Future Combat System appear to be good ones. And I want to say what they are: The rapid phase-out of the lead systems integrator to manage the program.
Again, this is not a partisan observation. This goes back to leadership when Republicans were in charge of the Congress and in charge of the committee, in terms of responsibility.
New contracts with reasonable fee structures to replace the current fee arrangement that featured hundreds of millions a year in fees with very few tools for Army program managers to hold contractors to account -- in other words, I believe that it is a step forward for the Army to be more in charge.
Breaking up the program into separate elements for the vehicles, communication network and spinouts to the current force, so that the Army can properly manage each of these major efforts -- I think, logistically speaking, that's going to reduce the friction for the Army. I think that's a good managerial step forward.
However, many questions -- I know I have a lot of "howevers" in here -- many questions about the way forward with the Future Combat System remain, some of which I hope will be answered today and in the three weeks to come -- before the markup.
For example, in what remains of the Future Combat System in the budget, there is a $415 million cost increase for software development costs that I'm having great difficulty in figuring out its -- the logic or what it's there for, that kind of thing.
So it appears -- and there's other examples that we needn't go into right now. So it appears that even without the manned vehicle, the Future Combat System program could face continued cost overruns in the future. And this has been predicted by the GAO and other analysts again and again.
There is one critical issue regarding the FCS that I want to emphasize today. Trying to go too fast with immature technologies and optimistic cost estimates is how the Future Combat System got in trouble in the first place. So it's imperative, in my view, that the Army not repeat all these same mistakes and that the Congress not repeat these same mistakes. I want to make it clear that this is a critique of the Army program with regard to Future Combat System, not criticism as such, because if there's criticism to go around, it can start with the Congress. The Congress has the ultimate responsibility and decision making here. And the Congress did not do its job, in my estimation, in terms of oversight and helping the Army to resolve these issues in a legislative sense in the defense bill.
So we -- there's enough sins to atone for to go around. My job, I feel, today and in the markup to come and the job of this subcommittee and the committee as a whole is to see to I that we exercise our oversight functions in a responsible way and work with you to see that the strategic interests of the nation are met.
Taking the time to get there -- in other words, then, taking time to get the requirements, the costs estimates and the technology right is absolutely essential to make sure that the Army can proceed with a new vehicle program that has the support of Congress and actually succeeds. That's what -- that has to be our goal. I say "our goal" -- not yours or mine, but ours.
Beyond the FCS, the 2010 budget request also includes some major changes -- and I just want to mention very briefly -- the Joint Cargo Aircraft program. The subcommittee needs to better understand the rationale and the impact of the proposed changes to this important program.
The budget request also -- is also first Army budget request since 2003 that does not include funds for Stryker vehicles. Members need information regarding the future of the Stryker program, including whether or not the Army is ready to commit to a fleet-wide Stryker upgrade program or programs.
The Army's Tactical Wheeled Vehicle fleet also faces many challenges, including the future of the MRAP vehicle in the Army fleet, modernization for the Army's huge inventory of humvees, adequate resourcing for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program -- that really needs some close attention -- addressing critical shortfalls in the Guard and Reserve medium and heavy-truck fleets, as well as policy with regard to the Guard and Reserve.
There are also significant issues that need to be addressed regarding the Army's fleet of helicopters and UAVs. Recent reprogramming in the fiscal year 2009 supplemental request by the Army to fund the upgrade of the Apache and Kiowa Warrior helicopters satisfy, I believe, near-term requirements and address the cancellation of the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter.
Longer term, however, there needs to be considerable analysis completed to determine the proper mix of helicopters and UAVs and required capabilities to meet warfighter needs.
We don't have -- at least in the presentation that's been made to us so far -- an idea of where you want to be over the next five years or 10 years, other than in the most general terms. And we're going to need more analysis in that regard.
Finally, members need to also be -- to fully understand the Army's path forward on body armor. I feel like Bill Murray in "Groundhog Day" when it comes to body armor. And I feel like I'm reading the same reports over and over again and the same accusations over and over again.
Media reports continue to indicate that in Afghanistan soldiers may carry loads as high as 130 to 150 pounds for a three-day mission. Much of this is anecdotal, I understand, but we have previously received testimony that personnel can wear only so much armor, beyond which their operational effectiveness is inhibited, and that in turn increases their risk of being injured. I suspect that that should be apparent.
We expect to receive updates on immediate efforts to lighten the load on the soldier without sacrificing their safety.
Again, in this area, in my Bill Murray mode -- the Army recently implemented a new policy decision requiring all body armor tests to be conducted in-house at a government laboratory, the Army Test Center. Historically, the Army has contracted to the independent National Institute of Justice certified laboratories -- those who are certified under the National Institutes of Justice and are independent -- for first article tests and lot acceptance tests. So this is a change in direction, and we need a little bit more information in that regard and what the Army's intent for the long term is.
We also need to know whether this decision could create delays in fielding body armor to the warfighter.
And at the request of this subcommittee, before the testing policy decision was made by the Army, the Government Accountability Office was already observing and reviewing the most recent body armor tests being conducted at the Army Test Center.
The GAO is in the process of completing their review. We are waiting to review their findings. I'm hoping this can be done in short order. But if it can't be done by the time of the defense bill markup, I think we may have to deal with this as a separate issue down the line.
In the meantime, then, I encourage the Army and the Department of Defense to standardize test procedures and protocols. That would eliminate, I think, a lot of this friction and contention that's taking place.
Now, again, this has been a lengthy statement. I'm generally loathe to do that, but given the importance of the defense bill coming up and with a change in administrations, I felt it was imperative that we have a crystal-clear understanding of where we are and what we need to address ourselves to.
So before we move then to our witnesses' opening remarks, which don't necessarily have to be in response to this at all at this time, I want to turn to the ranking member on this subcommittee and our most valued and trusted friend, Mr. Roscoe Bartlett, for his opening remarks.
REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT (R-MD): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
To our witnesses, thank you for being here and thank you very much for you service to our country.
In the recent series of full committee posture hearings, a consistent theme has carried through, and I want to echo it here today. I feel that there has been an absence of thoughtful debate, discussion and in some cases analysis to support this budget request.
The FY '10 Army top line request is advertised as being a robust 2.1 percent increase over '09. That assertion is misleading, given that when funding previously included in the supplemental is added, the Army in '10 will be funded at ($)4 billion less than in '09.
Army procurement accounts, not including JIEDDO, were funded at ($)37 billion in '09, yet the request in '10 totals just ($)30 billion. Army R&D accounts were funded at ($)12 billion in '09, yet the '10 request has been decreased to just ($)10 billion.
So basically, the Army's procurement is down. R&D is down. Even though the Army's overall funding is ($)4 billion less than in '09, the Army's unfunded requirements list is only ($)900 million, which is ($)3 billion less than last year.
I hope our witnesses can shed additional light on these concerns.
I've just a couple of issues I'd like to highlight. The first issue is in regard to the Joint Cargo Aircraft.
All of you have heard my thoughts on this over the course of the previous hearings. I've asked witnesses from the Army, the Air Force, the Guard and OSD, what has changed? Why is this mission being moved out of the Army and solely over to the Air Force when not four months ago we received a Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review report that stated, and I quote, "The option that provided most value to joint force was to passing the C-27J to the Air Force and the Army."
None of them have been able to answer the question, but all of them stated that there's been no new study or analysis conducted that countered the existing plan or reduced the JROC-approved requirement for 78 Joint Cargo Aircraft. I might note that that was just Army aircraft. The Air Force needed to add to that the aircraft that they would need.
The second issue I'd like to highlight is in reference to the Future Combat Systems program.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, no other committee has provided as much oversight on this program as this subcommittee. You can go back to when Mr. Weldon was the chairman and find that many of the concerns that Secretary Gates recently announced were very similar to the points that this subcommittee made back in '05.
However, it matters not who was right or who was wrong, what matters is, what do we do now? How do we ensure that we are looking out for the future of our soldiers? We must get this right. The Army must be allowed to modernize.
To our witnesses: Please take this message back to the Pentagon. We want to support your efforts as you restructure the Future Combat System program, but you must figure out a way to make us part of the process.
Along those lines, if I could make an additional point specifically in regard to the manned ground vehicles: I realize that you have your work cut out for you as you go back and look at requirements and move toward a new or modified program.
I would ask that, as you take a closer look at requirements, that you include taking another look at your electrical (sic) magnetic pulse requirement, EMP.
I visited Aberdeen Proving Ground a couple of months ago and received a classified briefing on Future Combat Systems in regard to electromagnetic pulse. This is not the appropriate venue to get into a classified discussion, but I can tell you that -- need to change your requirements. The threat is several times what you have designed it to and are testing it to. Please take a look at this and follow up with me.
Finally, I would like to mention a few things about body armor.
Again, Mr. Chairman, under your leadership this subcommittee has provided extensive oversight in this area that is matched by no other committee.
Body armor is the ultimate last line of defense when it comes to protecting our warfighters. And while we have made much progress, we must do more.
The senior Army leadership has testified that they want to provide a high level of protection and reduce weight. But the way we currently procure body armor does not support that objective.
We must not continue to classify body armor under the same category as clothing and boots. Not only does it send the wrong message to our soldier, but it doesn't help our industrial base plan for the future.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, our subcommittee tried to make some changes last year, but we were unsuccessful during conference.
I know we plan on making some changes this year, and I full support such efforts.
My last point concerns body armor as well. There've been some recent press reports regarding the Army's recent decision to conduct all first article testing and lot acceptance testing as a -- at a government test lab.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, we sent a letter to the secretary of the Army, and the response did not provide the detail we were hoping for. We also requested that the General (sic) Accountability Office report back to us in regard to the Army's effort to conduct this testing.
I will withhold judgment on this issue pending the final GAO report. However, I will say this: The first article test is very comprehensive and critical test, in terms of qualifying a product. I can understand why the department believes that they need to maintain this capability as a core competency and that it may cost more compared to a private test lab. But to do so, they must properly staff their test facility and have an established and fully vetted set of test procedures and protocols that is understood by industry.
Concerning lot acceptance testing, which is a less vigorous sample test, I continue to have concern regarding the Army's change in policy and hope to gain more detail at today's hearing.
Again, I will await -- I will wait until the final GAO report comes out. But I suspect we will be re-engaging with the Department of the Army on this decision.
Thank you for being here. I look forward to your testimony.
And Mr. Chairman, I would ask leave to be absent for a few minutes to go to testify before a Judiciary subcommittee.
Thank you, and I yield back.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you, Mr. Bartlett.
Before we go to our guests, starting with Mr. Ahern, we will engage in dialogue with our witnesses in reverse order today. Those who are the newest members will go first -- and in order of those who were here at the time the gavel came down and then who subsequently arrived.
Mr. Ahern, thank you for your service. Please proceed. And if you have a longer statement, it will be submitted to the record, without objection -- same for both generals. And any remarks at this time would be welcome.
MR. AHERN: Thank you, Chairman Abercrombie, distinguished members of the subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to discuss Army modernization from the perspective of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
I'll be brief in order to move quickly to the panel's questions.
When Secretary Gates introduced the department's FY '10 budget, he clearly articulated that one of his principal objectives was to rebalance the department's programs to institutionalize and enhance our capabilities to fight the wars we are in today and the scenarios we are most likely to face in the years ahead, while at the same time providing a hedge against other risks and contingencies.
The secretary's decisions regarding the Future Combat System focused the effort to deliver militarily useful capability developed in FCS to all of the Army's combat brigades, while re-evaluating the requirements, technologies and approaches, then re-launching the Army Vehicle Modernization program.
You asked that I address the department's support for both the Army's Aerial Common Sensor and the Navy's EPX aircraft programs.
Both the EPX and the ACS capabilities are important to maintain current war-fighting capability and to improve multi-intelligence- based ISR&T solutions for survivability and mission effectiveness.
At this time, the department is reviewing service plans for materiel development decisions and their associated analyses of alternatives. Our goal is -- in the pursuit of both capabilities -- is to identify affordable program solutions that field multi end capabilities as soon as possible.
You also asked about lessons learned from the Comanche and Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter acquisition programs. While both programs shared a common objective -- to replace aging armed reconnaissance aircraft inventories -- the technical goals of the two programs were nearly opposite.
Comanche incorporated cutting-edge technology for improved performance. ARH objective was to field new aircraft that matched existing capabilities without significant new technology.
The primary lesson from Comanche relates to assuring technology is mature prior to engineering development. For ARH, schedule was a critical goal that the program was unable to achieve.
We have already incorporated those lessons in the new DOD instruction.
The department continues to modernize the Tactical Wheeled Vehicle fleet of some 300,000 vehicles. The sheer magnitude of the fleet dictates that modernization must to be approached incrementally, with attention on affordable and achievable solutions.
In the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle -- or JLTV -- acquisition, the Army and Marine Corps selected multiple contractors for competitive prototyping to reduce risk, ensure designs are producible and properly costed. The JLTV will give us increases in reliability, maintainability, performance and commonality at a competitive price.
As you know, we have fielded thousands of Mine Resistant Ambush- Protected vehicles to operational forces. The MRAPs are outstanding vehicles for specific missions, and we will ensure that this capability remains part of the force structure.
In the area of body armor, USD AT&L recognizes DARPA, Army, Navy and Marine Corps science and technology efforts aimed at reducing body armor weight while maintaining or enhancing the protection they provide.
These efforts include work on ballistic fiber technology, ceramics and composites, advanced materials, modular designs and biomechanics, as well as longer-term technologies.
In the small arms area, a Joint Assessment Team was established to assess the department's approach to satisfying requirements. The JAT's preliminary findings include insights into the importance of training, the challenges in defining measurable, effects-based requirements, and the availability of commercial products that could meet the department's needs.
We will share the final results with the committee after the JAT completes its work and USD AT&L approves the report.
The final topic you asked me to address is a Persistent Threat Detection System. The PTDS Tethered Aerostat program is a capability procured and supported specifically for the theater of operations. There are eight PTDS Quick Reaction Capability systems currently deployed of a requirement for 18 systems. We are awaiting the approval of supplemental funding for up to seven additional systems.
We are grateful for the continued support of Congress, which has been critical to ensuring our soldiers are the best trained and equipped Army in the world.
Thank you for this opportunity to testify on the department's plans to continue to equip them for today's wars and tomorrow's challenges.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you, Mr. Ahern.
I appreciate your comments on the values of competition. I think I'll extract those remarks and send them over to the secretary of Defense about the alternate engine. (Laughs.)
To think, you were inches from a clean getaway.
GEN. THOMPSON: Chairman Abercrombie, distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for this opportunity to discuss the fiscal year 2010 president's budget request and the Army's acquisition, reset and modernization programs.
With this budget request, the Army --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I think your mike may not be on or you need to pull it a bit closer, General.
With this budget request, the Army's highest priority remains the protection of our warfighters in an operational environment that is increasingly unpredictable and dangerous.
Force protection has taken on an even greater importance as we shift major operations in Iraq to Afghanistan.
We are grateful to members of this committee for your guidance and your steadfast support. We continue to meet the equipping demands of our soldiers and ongoing overseas contingency operations and in other operations worldwide because of the resources and the guidance provided by this committee and the Congress. We constantly strive to be good stewards of those resources. The Army's comprehensive modernization program is the key to ensuring that our soldiers maintain a decisive advantage over a diverse array of potential adversaries, while improving their survivability.
In every aspect of Army modernization we leverage lessons learned from soldiers in the current fight to speed fielding of enhanced capabilities to the force, while we concurrently develop capabilities soldiers will need both today and tomorrow.
Our plans include transition to a modernization strategy focused on building a versatile mix of networked brigade combat teams and enablers that can leverage mobility, protection, information and precision intelligence in fires to conduct effective full-spectrum operations.
We also plan to incorporate the valuable technology and network advances we have drawn from the Future Combat Systems program, as well as the key technologies already in use in Iraq and Afghanistan.
On a couple of individual programs, the Army and the Department of Defense remain committed to the requirement for a manned scout helicopter capability and the need to deliver this capability to our soldiers in a responsible and timely manner.
We are also committed to working with the secretary of Defense and the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Congress to field a new ground combat vehicle as soon as possible.
In other areas of future commitments, we are evaluating proposals for the next evolution of the MRAP -- the MRAP all-terrain vehicle. We are planning for production of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, competition for a new carbine and continued development of the Joint Tactical Radio system, the Warfighter Information Network Tactical, Aerial Common Sensor and other systems to ensure that our soldiers maintain a decisive advantage over potential adversaries.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, your deep and abiding commitment to our men and women in uniform is widely recognized throughout our ranks. We thank you for your continued support of the men and women in uniform for the United States Army and their families.
And this concludes my opening remarks.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you, General Thompson.
General Speakes, I realize that the statement of General Thompson is meant to be a joint statement. However, out of respect for your valued input to this subcommittee over the years and to the committee as a whole -- taking into account, fully, my shortcomings as a pupil with regard to your instruction over the years -- if you'd like to make a statement, even informally, we'd be pleased to hear it.
GEN. SPEAKES: Chairman Abercrombie, sir, it's an honor to speak to you. And I speak to you as somebody who is humbly grateful for all that you've done for us for the years that I've been associated with this committee, which is now four years.
And Ranking Member Bartlett and members of the committee, it's an honor to be here today to be afforded the chance to talk about our Army, an Army that right now is at its peak in terms of soldiers deployed, as we straddle commitments in both Iraq, as we execute a responsible drawdown and we shift and now adopt the main effort of this great nation, as we focus on Afghanistan.
So it's an Army that is under a heavier load than ever and one that merits and receives your support as never before.
We would like to address some specific areas where the Army's shift in focus and reflection on the lessons learned of this last period of conflict is going to be reflected in both the FY '10 budget and our plans for the future.
First of all, it's an Army that recognizes that we must provide and continue to provide the best equipment to soldiers in conflict. Much of what General Thompson has already spoken about addresses our recognition that soldiers in conflict today in Afghanistan will be equipped differently than those in Iraq in very important but subtle ways.
Such as examples, as you've already cited, as lightening the soldier's load -- a soldier who operated in Iraq essentially operated in close proximity to a up-armored humvee or an MRAP or some other mounted platform.
Today's soldier that is operating in Afghanistan is operating at very high altitudes in a long-range, dismounted mode of operation that puts much greater priority on us to put the equipping strategy in a very important new way, in a new light.
We also recognize that, as we begin to execute the withdrawal of equipment out of Iraq, that we must have a strategy that brings that equipment back here and resets it appropriately so that we put strategic depth back into this nation's army.
We would like to call your attention to the point that getting that equipment back is essential to our future readiness. While it is not the panacea that'll fix our readiness issues, it is important that we recognize that there are vital capabilities that right now are a part of equipment that is in Iraq as a part of our theater-provided equipment -- over 30,000 weapons, over 30,000 trucks.
Those are examples of capabilities that must be brought back so that we can do something that is very important to ensure the readiness of the Army in the future.
There are moves afoot to put equipment, on a transfer basis, into other forces militaries -- specifically, the Iraqi army and police. We'd simply as k that if that happens that Army be compensated for that, because we certainly must have the equipment back in order to ensure the future readiness of the Army. So what may make important sense from a national strategy also must reflect the readiness of the Army as a core value for all of us.
And then, finally, what I'd also like to do is ensure that we have a shared vision of the road ahead. The guidance that we received from the secretary of Defense as we announced the FY '10 budget is a very, very important signal to us about learning lessons from this conflict and thinking very carefully about our modernization.
And we think your comments about how we ensure that we're getting value for the future dollar spent and that we have a strategy that is nested with yours is absolutely vital to all of us. So we are doing that.
We've also made important adjustments to our equipping strategy, one that reflects the reality now of an army that is in motion, that won't be equipped on a static basis with equipment sitting in a unit for the lifetime of that particular piece of equipment -- but, instead, now an army that equips units on a mission-specific focus, recognizing the relative place in a cyclic readiness profile, much like the United States Navy has employed for many years.
So we have adopted that and we think that what we're going to be able to do is show much higher utilization for our equipment, improve readiness and a better ability to focus the best equipment where it needs to be to support soldiers who are headed into harm's way. So these are but a few of the important initiatives that we welcome today as an opportunity to engage in dialogue and to explain what we are trying to do in pursuit of the secretary of Defense's strategy.
We thank you for the opportunity to testify today.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you very much, General Speakes. Thank you for your kind remarks, not least of which regarded me and to the subcommittee. Appreciate it.
We will start with Mr. Kissell, to be followed by Mr. Wilson.
REP. LARRY KISSELL (D-NC): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Generals.
My district in North Carolina is immediately adjacent to Fort Bragg, and I had the privilege Monday of spending all day with Special Forces and General Mulholland and learning more about the tremendous work that these men and women do to help us.
Mr. Ahern, we -- I think the difficulty in asking the question right now is that we have a lot of specifics about what is taking place as we transition towards Afghanistan, potentially away from Iraq and to try to balance a -- the specifics of what's taken place now versus the general aspect of modernization.
And as we talked about yesterday in our subcommittee hearing and the chairman's aspect of what wishes can be -- and we know the limitations of what wishes can offer to us. I would like to ask you about the ground vehicles. As I was reading through the information available to us, it seemed like we're looking at multipurpose vehicles -- light, heavy, medium. But yet, the ground vehicle for the Future Combat Systems is out.
So where are we going in terms of ground vehicles? And more importantly to me is how are we going to know what successes we are having in this transition? Because it seems like -- on a lot of issues -- that we are at a transition point that if the new doesn't happen on time we're in trouble.
So if you could give me some ideas on that, I'd appreciate it.
MR. AHERN: Yes, sir. And I'd like to collaborate on -- with my Army compatriots on answering your question.
I think what I would say is that as we're moving forward on the MGV, on the ground vehicles -- that aspect of the Future Combat System -- the first step is going to be to look at whether or not we have that right mix, currently, of heavy Stryker vehicles in support of the heavy -- the Stryker in the infantry brigades and, depending upon that, how we accomplish those missions in the variety of environments -- then we need to assess what we need going forward in that combination of forces -- the task forces that we fight in.
I -- that, anyway, is the way I look at it and that's what the Army is going to be looking at this summer and this fall, is an assessment of the requirements for the right mix of vehicles in the brigades and identify what gaps there are and what capabilities are needed toward that reinstitution of the manned ground vehicle development, if that answers your question, while at the same time we are well under way on the Joint Tactical Lightweight Vehicle, which will, as it's fielded to the brigades, provide the capability in that space.
Does that begin to answer your question, sir?
REP. KISSELL: Yes, sir. And I think one of the important things there is you said that we are going to be assessing this and have answers in the fall. And I think one of the important things is we've got to know what those answers are so that we can help you determine, you know, what is the future of this modernization.
And another question -- and you can get back to me on this -- that we've had ongoing discussions on the ISRs and there's procurement requests in here for C-12s, but yet there were some C-12 Angel Fires in Iraq that were being dismantled. And so just wondering where we might stand in that process of looking at those to see what application they may have in Afghanistan to help our troops over there, because we do know from previous hearings that there are a lot of concerns about ISR capacity being equal to the surge and our troops being protected.
MR. AHERN: Yes, sir. One of the -- the leading edge of the Aerial Combat System is in fact six, if I recall correctly, of the Liberty C-12s to be procured. And I will get back to you on where they are going, sir.
But that is the leading edge of the program and I believe it's in the FY '10 request.
REP. KISSELL: And be sure and look at -- we do have some from Iraq that were being dismantled, and to be requesting new ones when there were others available, that was a great concern to a lot of people in this committee.
MR. AHERN: Yes, sir.
REP. KISSELL: Thank you.
MR. AHERN: I will take that question.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
Mr. Kissell, we -- I should have reminded everybody we're on the five-minute clock, and that worked out just right.
No, no, you're just -- you're right on the -- as they say in Hawaii, right on the kini popo. Don't worry about it.
And I know Mr. Wilson will do it, too.
REP. JOE WILSON (R-SC): Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: He's going to truncate his introduction and get right to his question. (Laughter.)
REP. WILSON: I sure am. I want to thank all of you for your -- protecting our warfighters. I particularly appreciate it as a member of the Armed Services Committee, a 31-year veteran of the Army National Guard, son of a veteran. But particularly, I have three sons serving in the military, so I have a keen interest in what you're doing.
And specifically, General Thompson, competing for the next contract for the M-4 -- what is the status of the competition? When do you anticipate issuing a solicitation? Do you plan to make an award to one company or will the contract be divided in multiple awards to different companies? And how much has been budgeted for the M-4?
GEN. THOMPSON: I'll take your question in the three parts.
We now, after many years, have the government purpose rights to the technical data package for the existing M-4 carbine. And we're in the process of putting the solicitation package out to compete that M- 4 carbine tac data package. And I expect that request for proposal to be out within the next four to six weeks.
In addition to that, we've also looked at the broader requirement for small arms, in particular the carbine and the army is about ready to update that requirement and pass that requirement, which has been jointly developed, to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council to go into that broader requirements process.
So we'll compete the existing carbine design. At the same time, we're updating the requirement for a potential future carbine or small-arms capability that will go into the Joint Requirements Oversight Council process.
I don't -- I'll look up the answer to the question on how much is in the budget. I don't have that at the tip of my fingers, but I've got it somewhere in my material here.
And to the question of will we go with one or more --
REP. WILSON: Companies --
GEN. THOMPSON: -- companies as we do the award, I don't know the exact acquisition strategy, but my recollection is that it just -- with one winner as a result of the competition. And if that's incorrect, I'll come back and correct that for the record.
REP. WILSON: Thank you very much.
And additionally, I understand that the Army issues a solicitation for an MRAP, that it's the responsibility of the original equipment manufacturer to select the door for the vehicle. This results in the MRAP vehicles with different doors. Would it be wise for the Army to specify the safety and survivability of the door?
GEN. THOMPSON: Well, all of the equipment manufacturers that have produced MRAPs to-date -- they have designed the doors particular to that vehicle variant.
We have continued to improve the doors from a couple of standpoints. When we identify in the testing that the doors don't stay shut properly when they're subject to blast -- we've made those adjustments on all the vehicle variants.
And we've also made adjustments to the individual designs to make sure that the soldiers inside, once the vehicle is hit, are able to get that door open and get out of the vehicle.
We have not standardized the design on doors. We did not think that was something that we needed to do, because we've optimized the design with each individual manufacturer.
But we have continued to take the lessons learned from theater and adjust the door designs for the two key categories I talked about -- making sure they stay shut when they need to stay shut and make sure they're easily able to be opened when the soldiers inside need to get out of the vehicles, especially after they've been hit.
REP. WILSON: And I was honored to be with Congresswoman Tsongas to see some of the new MRAPs. And the doors -- and you've really identified some of the concerns I have. But as we consider specifications for the doors, would it be possible that the power door system have a sensing device to prevent injury to the operator while closing the door? When a blast disables the vehicle, the power door system must assist quick egress, relying on a self-contained, separate power system. The power door system should also assist in egress on an uphill side when a blast or accident rolls the vehicle to its side.
Are these specifications that -- and you really hit on some of them a few minutes ago -- few seconds ago.
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, those are all things that -- as we look at the MRAP all-terrain vehicle, the five companies that are in the process of source selection and testing right now and then, as I said before, is looking at the existing fielded MRAPs, primarily the ones that have been fielded to Iraq making adjustments to those door designs.
I will take your question back in detail and get back with the Joint Program Office, which is, you know, led by the Department of the Navy, but certainly large participant -- the Department of the Army, and make sure that we're addressing those particular issues that you addressed.
REP. WILSON: Thank you very much.
And I appreciate your answers.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you, Mr. Wilson.
Mr. Marshall, to be followed by Mr. Miller.
There you are, Jeff. You're next after Mr. Marshall, Jeff.
REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The ATV MRAP -- when do you think we're going to see them in theater?
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, right now we just are in the second phase of the source --
REP. MARSHALL: I know you're --
GEN. THOMPSON: -- selection evaluation process.
We will make a source selection decision at the end of June, as we continue the evaluation. And the expectation is the first of those will be --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Can you pull the mike a touch closer, please?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. The first of those vehicles will be fielded in the fall.
REP. MARSHALL: So in the fall --
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir.
REP. MARSHALL: -- this year?
Been to Afghanistan a bunch of times and you're out on some of the Special Forces installations and what you'll see is MRAPs parked and gathering dust. They just won't use them. You give them to them, they won't use them and for good reason: they roll over.
Your unfunded requirements makes reference to -- well, pardon me. In response to an inquiry by the ranking member, General Casey gave us a list of unfunded requirements. And included in that list is Army test sets, diagnostic equipment and test infrastructure. What's that refer to? Do you know, offhand?
GEN. SPEAKES: Sir, I'd like to just give you a quick explanation of what we tried to do with the unfunded requirements list. I'd like to take the specifics of that question for the record.
REP. MARSHALL: Well, if -- I'd rather not take too much time on this. I'd like a specific response to that inquiry, so maybe you could do that for the record. And the force provider -- could you give some detail there, you know, what that is, why you want that?
Joint Cargo Aircraft, Mr. Bartlett's already noted -- then the Quadrennial Roles and Missions report of 2009 the department indicated that it's appropriate to have JCA C-27 in both the Army and the Air Force.
Institute for Defense Analysis came out with a report done at our request on March 13th. And in that report it seems to -- the IDA seems to be saying that for low-intensity conflicts like those that we're engaged in in Afghanistan, for example, that the best airlift mix includes as much, if I recall correctly, as 98 -- that's most effective for the least cost -- 98 C-27s.
How do we get -- let's say it's Army that really needs the C-27s. And Army's convinced that this is a very useful platform to meet operational needs in, say, Afghanistan.
And yet the program is assigned to the Air Force. How do we get more C-27s? Does Army pay for it? It's an Army need, the Air Force actually is going to own it, buy it, operate it, service the Army.
Is it in the Army budget or is it in the Air Force budget as we move forward?
GEN. SPEAKES: Sir, the intent of the guidance that we received as we announced FY '10 budget decisions is that this program moves to the Air Force.
REP. MARSHALL: We've got that part of it.
GEN. SPEAKES: And we're in the process now of an orderly transition of funding, program administration and future support all to transfer to the Air Force -- to include the training of the aviators, everything else associated with it.
The concept then would be that from our perspective as a user on the battlefield, we'll look to the Air Force to provide that support. And the specific work that is going on right now with the vice chairman -- with the two service vices -- is to ensure that we have a plan to enable the Army to achieve the kind of quick support for the last tactical mile that has been the shortcoming that was addressed in the requirements that you refer to.
REP. MARSHALL: Do you know offhand whether that'll be in the Army budget or the Air Force budget? Will the Air --
GEN. SPEAKES: It'll be in the Air Force budget, sir.
REP. MARSHALL: So the Air Force will have to ask in its budget for resources needed by the Army?
GEN. SPEAKES: Sir, in the same context is that all fixed-wing assets, essentially, that provide that kind of support are an Air Force asset.
So this is a concept now of who is providing support to the tactical commander on the battlefield. We would be the customer. The Air Force would be the sole source provider.
REP. MARSHALL: I think this is a terrific opportunity for the Air Force. No problem at all with idea of the Air Force managing the acquisition and modernization, maintenance. It's got a very different concept than the Army does with regard to those things and I think, in the long run, a better one as far as saving taxpayer dollars is concerned.
I'm just kind of worried that we -- none of us want to see a repeat of the Caribou history. We want this to work.
And I think it's a terrific opportunity for jointness, et cetera. But where Caribou was concerned, what got in the way was money. That was -- as much as anything else. It's --oh gosh, is this coming -- you know, is this trip coming out of my budget? Is this plane coming out of my budget? I don't really need it that much. You know, I'm more worried about some other things. So I'm hoping that that coordination works out well.
I yield back.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
Mr. Miller to be followed by Mr. Johnson.
REP. JEFF MILLER (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, thanks for being here today and your testimony.
I'd like to talk a little bit about body armor, if we can.
Chairman, I think you were right on the mark. We keep hearing it over and over and over again.
I was reading, I think, Mr. Ahern, in your remarks -- and correct me if I'm interpreting this incorrectly, but it says that the Joint Clothing and Textile Governance Board, which was mandated by DOD dated August 20 of '08 -- and then I look down and I see that -- and the director's supposed to chair -- of DLA is supposed to chair that board. And then I look down the next paragraph, it says, "DLA is in the process of formalizing this board to include drafting a charter identifying membership and creating a governance structure."
Are we talking about a yearlong process to set this board up? Is that what's happened?
MR. AHERN: Yes, sir. I think that the DLA involvement -- the board that I'm describing is a sustainment board. I will defer again to General Thompson for the specifics.
I think it is a looking-forward effort. It is not affecting the fielding, the development, the fielding, the procurement of the body armor currently for the Army, but it is looking forward toward the sustainment of the body armor capability in the years to come.
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, if I could just add to that, just a minute. The services develop requirements for equipment and develop requirements for body armor. There's a lot of work going on right now to develop more joint requirements on body armor.
The services also do the development and the procurement of the new equipment and DLA does the sustainment.
So this board that's being set up, as I understand it, is to get better collaboration on how do we do the sustainment of the fielded items -- clothing and equipment -- body armor being one of those items.
REP. MILLER: All right. Since we're talking about fielding the equipment, can you tell me where we are now, with fielding body armor and the testing? What changes have taken place in the testing process of the body armor?
It's my understanding that maybe some of the requirements have changed. The tests have been done. Body armor that passed and was acquired in the past now doesn't meet specs.
Can you elaborate on that?
GEN. THOMPSON: There's been a lot of questions raised about body armor testing, so let me try to answer most of them and then take some specifics.
As a result of a series of audits and IG reports, we pulled the body armor testing back in with a policy statement that said we're primarily going to do the testing in-house at government facilities, because we do have the government facilities that we need to fully leverage.
So that doesn't mean we're going to do all of the testing inside the government facilities. But the intent right now -- and we're balancing this between what we do in-house and what we do with the commercial industry -- is to do the first article testing, which is, as has been pointed out in the opening statements, the more comprehensive testing in order to qualify a design to go in production.
We have an industry day set up with the commercial testing laboratories in June to be able to get their input to see what is the right balance between government testing and commercial testing for the long haul.
We are in the process right now of increasing the capacity of the Army Test and Evaluation Command, in particular, the facilities at Aberdeen, in order to do that testing. The director of Operational Tests and Evaluation has got oversight responsibility for the testing of body armor. And they're in the process of standardizing the test protocols for the Department of Defense, which have been different between the services and with SOCOM. And the expectation there is they will publish a Department of Defense instruction which codifies the standard test protocols by the end of this summer, probably in September.
REP. MILLER: Has this move -- and I think there was a National Institute of Justice or something that was mentioned earlier -- I wasn't able to write down. Was that one of the testing groups in the past that -- or did I misinterpret a comment?
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, the National Institute of Justice standard is a certification standard like an ISO standard or an ANSI standard. And the commercial labs have chosen to have the National Institute of Justice come in and certify their processes and procedures, which is an indication of their focus on quality. And so it's good for us to use those commercial labs that have the National Institute of Justice standard.
REP. MILLER: I apologize, my time has expired -- just a very quick question: Is pulling the testing in-house caused any of the suppliers to no longer meet the requirements?
GEN. THOMPSON: (Laughs.) This is a very complicated area, but it is possible to qualify a design with first-article testing and then the individual lots that are produced to not pass testing, because we test not just the qualification of the design, we also do testing every lot that an individual body armor manufacturer produces to make sure that they're still adhering to the standards.
So it is possible to have a first-article test passed, pass a number of lot acceptance tests and then fail one and then pass the subsequent ones. So it really depends on the manufacturing process, the materials, et cetera, but that's part of the quality control check.
REP. MILLER: Thank you.
And I have some follow-up questions, Mr. Chairman, I'd like to submit for the record.
GEN. THOMPSON: Sure.
REP. MILLER: Thank you very much.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Miller will send you those and if you could reply to him and to us, we'd be grateful.
Mr. Marshall has a very brief follow-up on Mr. Miller's inquiry.
REP. MARSHALL: When you're doing your follow-up testing -- your lot testing and you discover that there's a fault with a particular lot, do you have a regime where if it happens once or twice or three times, that manufacturer is out, so that the manufacturers are encouraged not to try and --
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. In the contract specifications for body armor now, if you fail two lots in a row you have to go back and re-qualify that design, or if you fail three lots out of 100, you have to go back and re-qualify the designs. So you have to go back and do the comprehensive first-article testing again, and that's what's in the contract specifications for body armor today.
So you can't fail, you know, more than two lots in a row and then pass one and have us accept that body armor and field it. And whenever a lot is failed we do not accept that lot of equipment. It's rejected, as you would expect it to be.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
Mr. Johnson, to be followed by Mr. Coffman.
REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for hosting this hearing -- or holding this hearing.
And thank you gentlemen for coming. It's indeed our honor to be in your presence. And I personally want to thank you for your service to the nation.
As I understand it, the average soldier deployed over a three-day mission is carrying up to 150 pounds of gear and, of course, you're seeking to lighten that load. However, two to three pounds lighter for the body armor is what we have now. Is there any reason why we should not be able to get that down substantially more and while at the same time preserving the coverage and even expanding the coverage of the body armor?
GEN. THOMPSON: I'll take that question. We are always looking to improve the capability and lighten the load on the soldier. An example today is that we have fielded to a battalion at Fort Carson that's getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan a series of lighter equipment and we will evaluate that battalion and its performance when it goes to Afghanistan to see how the soldiers perform with that lighter load.
The program executive officer soldier has done a number of significant things over the last five and six years to lighten the load, not just in body armor, but in the optics that are on the weapons and the clothing that the soldiers wear. That is a constant focus for us to be able to lighten the load on the soldier in every category of equipment that the individual soldier carries.
We just finished this week an evaluation -- back to body armor -- on plate carriers. We evaluated six different categories of plate carriers that take weight off of the soldier, in particular looking toward the operational environment in Afghanistan where it's more of a dismounted operation and so we've evaluated the capability of that plate carrier. So it's the same plate, it's the same ESAPI plate that we field today in a plate carrier that doesn't cover as much, but that's part of the risk trade-off. And what we've done is we've characterized what that coverage is and we've given that commander the ability to use that plate carrier with the full-up surrounding plates that we field to all the soldiers to give them that option when they're going on a mission that requires them to reduce some of the weight that the soldiers carry.
REP. JOHNSON: All right, thank you. And with respect to our men and women serving in the Reserves and the National Guard, and also their families, the budget request shrinks the amount of money for the National Guard, as I understand it, and for the naval reserve components.
You know, we've already talked about -- well, you haven't talked about this during the hearing and I'd like for you to talk about it -- the equipment shortfalls that are projected to occur despite the budget requests. And so I would like to know why is it that we are decreasing that part of your budget as opposed to increasing it?
GEN. SPEAKES: Sir, I'd like to take the question. Since I have been an Army G-8 over four years now, properly equipping the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve, the two elements of our reserve component, has been a critical Army priority. To put it in perspective, in FY '01 the Army National Guard was given $1 billion to equip the force. Now, over the course of the period from '02 through '13, the average has been $3.9 billion per year. So what you see is, almost by a factor of four, that we have made a sustained long-term commitment to ensure that both the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve are properly equipped.
That strategy has involved several key elements. First, we had to address the fact that we had to put them on the same basis for equipping. So they now have the same structure, the same (TO&E ?) as their active-component counterparts. So we have one standard to measure equipping levels at.
The second thing we had to do was recognize that as we filled the organizations we wanted to give them modernized equipment and not cast-off equipment. You'll recollect that in decades past what we did is equip the active force and then we took the used equipment from the active force and moved it to the reserve component. Those days are past. Now the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve get equipment that is new, right off the production line, the same way as their active-component brethren.
So what we've been able to do is do two things: fill holes but, secondly, raise the level of modernization. So we will continue this effort now through the current planning focus, which in our case is out through FY '15. And what we're going to be able to do is approach the same levels of equipment on hand and, probably as importantly, the same levels of modernization which is really important to soldiers; they don't have something that's 10 or 20 years old in terms of technology, they have the same thing as their active-component brethren.
The intent being, then, so that when they're deployed they have the same compatible equipment that provides high survivability.
And secondly, we also recognize the importance of homeland defense. We're managing now, separately, visibility on what we call the homeland defense items, which are essentially about 250 items of equipment that have particular utility when we're doing homeland defense functions in support, particularly, of our state governors.
Those items are also continuing to improve over time. So this is a long-term commitment. We are going to sustain this commitment through the period of planning that we have been accountable for now, which is out through '15 in draft terms. And at this point I can offer you our sincere commitment that you have a sea change in terms of the actual equipping levels of our reserve component now and that that will continue for the foreseeable future.
REP. JOHNSON: Thank you very much, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R-CO): There has been some concern -- and certainly I share the concern -- that this nation has been engaged in counterinsurgency and nation-building since post-9/11 and that we've gutted our conventional capability at the expense of counterinsurgency and nation-building. And I wonder if you can speak to that in this budget? And also I wondered if you could also speak to, in this budget, the status of armor and the status of field artillery?
GEN. SPEAKES: Sir, I think you correctly identify a very important issue for all of us in the Army and it's an issue of balance. We certainly understand the secretary of Defense's guidance. And his guidance essentially is this: that we have to have a formation that is relevant to the lessons learned from the current conflict, but also let's prepare for what we regard is the likelihood and kind of potential conflict that we face in the future.
So what we use is the term full-spectrum capability. What it means then is both our formations in terms their design, the soldiers and leaders who man them and the equipment that we use for those formations has got to be able to function across the spectrum of conflict. And as you well know, the artillery piece that we're using today with an Excalibur precision round can be used right now to take out a terrorist room that we would find in a building in Baghdad, or it can be used in the event that we need to mass precision fires against some kind of a major operation that would involve mass formation.
So we're committed right now to ensuring that the rest of our formation, which specifically would be the heavy formation that has heavy brigades as its core, is modernized along with the other elements of our formation to give us an ability to move across the spectrum.
So specifically in the case of artillery, we have the PIM (sp) program which is the concept by which we continue to apply state of the art capability to our howitzers. We are also continuing the same kind of modernization to our Abrams and our Bradley formations, continuing a vigorous research and development program so that we can continue to apply capabilities to those vehicles as we see the lessons learned of war tell us we need to move to improvements.
Let me defer to General Thompson for additional.
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, the only thing I would really add to that is that the big change for us in this budget is the fact that we're going to look at the requirements and begin again anew on the ground combat vehicle program. So there is a need for us to modernize the ground combat vehicles. That's the replacements for the tanks and the Bradleys and the 113s that are out there in the force today.
Until we do that, you would expect us to look at those opportunities to upgrade and modernize the existing fleet that's out there, and we do that. And there's a balance. There's a balance in how much you invest in today's systems versus trying to go to modernized for the future. And it's no different than replacing your old car one day or it's no different than the other services replacing Joint Strike Fighter aircraft with the existing aircraft that are in the inventory today.
And so you can't just stop, you've got to always be looking to the future. And there does become a point where it doesn't make operational sense or fiscal sense to continue to modernize an older set of equipment because it's outlived its useful life.
REP. COFFMAN: Well, thank you. I just -- for the record I want to express my concern about maintaining our conventional war-fighting capability, because I think it's very easy for the Department of Defense and the Congress to say, you know, these -- nation-building and counterinsurgency is really the future threat; we don't have to focus on conventional threats. And it's much cheaper, quite frankly, from the standpoint of modernization or looking at weapons platforms to focus on counterinsurgency and nation-building than it is to focus on conventional war-fighting capabilities.
Last question is: Can you tell me about the status of the humvee? I know that initially, earlier on in Iraq, they were, you know, sticking extra metal on those things and -- for up-armor humvees, and the transmission, I know, wouldn't support -- you know, they were wearing those vehicles out prematurely. Can you tell me what the status of the humvees are right now?
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, we have sequentially upgraded the protection capability on the humvees through a series of fragmentation kits and right now we are on our sixth iteration of fragmentation kits to increase the protection levels. And so we've done that to the humvee fleet. You know, we see from a requirements perspective that we won't have any thin-skinned vehicles in the future, that we know we need to be able to put the right level of armor protection on the entire humvee fleet that goes in harm's way and that's part of the Tactical Wheeled Vehicle strategy.
As we look to modernize the Light Tactical Vehicle fleet, which the humvee is part of, that's what the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program is about. And again, back to the question of balance, it's what's the right level of investment to continue to sustain the roughly 140,000 humvees that we've got in inventory, many of them up- armored today, as we go to the future and begin to produce the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which, as Mr. Ahern pointed out earlier, is a competitively awarded development program that is one day going to be the replacement for the humvee.
REP. COFFMAN: Mr. Chairman, if I could -- is it the Army's objective that there be no more thin-skinned humvees, that all humvees are of the same up-armored capability?
GEN. THOMPSON: There will continue to be, you know, thin-skinned humvees in the inventory. The ones that are in the inventory will primarily be used in a training area, but they are not the ones that will be used in the operational environment that we see today in Iraq and Afghanistan.
REP. COFFMAN: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you very much.
Ms. Tsongas to be followed by Mr. Hunter.
REP. NIKI TSONGAS (D-MA): Thank you for your testimony and for your service in very difficult times.
You've heard a lot of questions about body armor today and I too share that concern, both with the information we've received on the numbers of orthopedic injuries -- some attributable to the weight of the armor -- the numbers of those who are not deployable. And in testimony here we also heard a young soldier testify of the temptation to take it off when in the field because it is so heavy.
So given all that we've heard here, my question is, wouldn't it make sense to put together a -- rather than dealing with this in a piece-by-piece fashion put together a task force much as we did around the MRAPs to sort of deal with this in a holistic way -- a concerted effort around research and development and then fielding whatever body armor makes the most sense?
And I welcome your -- your thoughts from all of you.
GEN. THOMPSON: Ma'am, we have today in the Program Executive Office soldier, which does all of the soldier systems, a task force on soldier protection that is looking at the holistic items for soldier protection. The joint work that is going on in both the requirements and the testing area around body armor is essentially doing that without calling it a task force. And so I think we're doing that from a requirements and from a testing perspective and I address the testing standardization that the director of operational test and evaluation is leading us through right now.
We have a number of other forums. The Army-Marine Corps Board at multiple rank levels all the way up to the vice chief of staff and the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps look at those opportunities between the two primary ground forces to look at areas of standardization on all soldier protection equipment.
One of the things that I've talked about with a number of the staffers is we do think that there's a need to have in the base program, not in the supplemental, a dedicated research and development line for body armor and soldier protection. That money has been in the supplemental funding for the last couple of years and we recognize that need. That's something we need to work with the Congress on in both the '10 and '11 budget, and then putting the proper amount of money in there so that we have a steady state level of investment to continually improve the body armor for the soldiers.
REP. TSONGAS: (Off mike.)
MR. AHERN: Yes, ma'am. I would agree with everything General Thompson said. And as we were preparing for this hearing, the issue of the sustaining R&D came up and that is something that I'd like to say we are considering going forward.
REP. TSONGAS: I would say that's the great shortfall, and even as you sort of deal with this in a piecemeal fashion, it seems to be more -- we need a more concerted effort around that. So thank you for your testimony, and I yield back.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
Mr. Hunter, followed by Ms. Fallin.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your service.
Mr. Ahern, good to see you again, sir. And the first question is about brownout technology. There's nothing in the budget at all for any brownout technology for Black Hawks or any other rotary wing aircraft. I just wanted to get an -- expound on that.
The Black Hawk pilots that I've talked to have a really hard time. Their gunners have a really hard time. A lot of Black Hawks bouncing off the ground as they try to land in Afghanistan especially, so why wouldn't there be money in here even for R&D for Black Hawk brownout technology?
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, I don't have a specific answer to that question. I do know, from a collaboration standpoint, that we do a lot of joint work with the Air Force on brownout technology. But I guess I'd have to take that one for the record and get back with you on specifically what is in the budget. It may not be explicitly called out, but I know we do research and development in that area. I just don't know what line it's in.
REP. HUNTER: Do they have anything right now on Black Hawks that sees through dirt and any kind of debris in the air?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yeah, the information that they just handed me was that the UH-60 (mike ?) upgrade testing that's under way right now has both cockpit and stabilization technology being evaluated.
REP. HUNTER: And that's brownout stuff?
GEN. THOMPSON: It deals with the brownout challenge.
REP. HUNTER: Does it use radar to do it or does it use --
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, I don't know.
REP. HUNTER: Okay.
GEN. THOMPSON: I don't know the technical details.
REP. HUNTER: Okay, that's all I had. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
We have three votes -- a 15 and two fives -- so we have some time. And we will come back. You can stay. I'm sorry; it'll probably be roughly half an hour -- probably less than that, 20 minutes or so. But we have time now.
REP. MARY FALLIN (R-OK): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you gentleman for your service to our nation.
I have a question about the National Guard. And it is indicated that 31 percent of the Guard units have their Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles requirement on hand. And in my state, in Oklahoma, our National Guard tells me they have 40 percent of their required vehicles and 20 percent of their trailers on hand. And I'm just a little concerned about the readiness implications of not supplying the Guard units with the equipment that they need for both deployments and even the ability to effectively respond to emergencies in our home state.
So my question is: What is the plan to help with the inventory -- equipment inventory that our Guard units need in our individual states? And are there any changes coming down that will help them have a better operational role?
GEN. SPEAKES: Ma'am, let me start off by explaining that we're measuring right now two items that are of concern to everybody. The first is overall Guard equipping levels. The second is where we are on the homeland defense items that you're, for example, focusing.
And as a part of that, what we're focused on specifically is addressing critical shortfalls in modernized Tactical Wheeled Vehicles with the focus on light and medium trucks because those are the ones that are a critical shortfall right now. Over the course of the next several years what we'll be able to do is raise our items of homeland defense in aggregate to over 80 percent to about 82 percent on hand as we look at our strategy between now and FY '15.
This is vital because what we're going to be able to do is ensure that we have the right amount of equipment on hand in a state to address their particular capabilities associated to the units they have. And then through the formation of regional compacts, which is a part of the director of the Army National Guard strategy, to be able to mass capabilities in the event that we have a particular need in a state.
Let me get back to you with the specifics of what the plan is for Oklahoma and the Guard equipping within that state.
REP. FALLIN: I would like to know also the time frame we're looking at. Are we looking at two, three years, five years? I mean, I hope it's as quick as possible.
GEN. SPEAKES: Yes, sir -- yes, ma'am.
In this case the issue -- or the focus is -- now to '15 -- is where we have a specific plan with an investment strategy that is designed, for example, to take the aged 2.5-ton truck which has been with the Army and the Army National Guard in disproportionate levels for the last 30 years and we'll have it out of the inventory completely by FY '11.
So this is a strategy that puts enormous amounts of capability in the hands of soldiers and units in the Army National Guard here in the next several years. Essentially, the investments that were funded by the Congress two years ago in supplemental funding are now coming as a tidal wave of capability that is beginning to make a wholesale change in terms of Guard equipping.
REP. FALLIN: Okay, and I have one other question, Mr. Chairman, if I can.
This question is related --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Two minutes.
REP. FALLIN: Okay, thank you.
We have a hearing yesterday -- a readiness hearing and I had the chance to ask General Chiarelli about the Army artillery's capacity considering the cancellation of the FCS manned ground vehicle system and specifically the NLOS cannon. And the general testified that the Army is committed to using the gains that have been made through the technology through the manned ground vehicle program into the new combat system.
And I appreciate that they're trying to use that technology, but in your estimation, how much of the development that's already been done in this program will be salvageable? Because we've spent a lot of money on this. And specifically, will there be any new technologies required for the new ground combat vehicles?
GEN. THOMPSON: Ma'am, I'll take that question. We just finished last week the systems of systems preliminary design review on the FCS program. That was the culmination of the work that's been done in the development of the FCS capabilities which includes the manned ground vehicle and, in particular, the cannon capabilities over the last five years.
That was a very successful meeting. It demonstrated that this program has made significant progress in the technology. All of the key technologies in the program -- all 44 technologies are at the right technology readiness level. And as we go forward here with the Future Combat Systems program we will harvest the investment that we've made to the extent that we can and use that technology as we go forward and update the requirements in the new ground combat vehicle program, which I can't imagine not including a new Howitzer because there is a need for precision fires, all weather, line of sight, beyond line of sight capability which is what a cannon is.
And so the smart business thing for us to do is to make sure that the $15 billion that's been spent on FCS to date is fully leveraged as we go forward. And that is clearly something that we know we have to do and we are in the process of doing that. And it'll take us the next three or four months to be able to do that with all of the contractors that we've got working on this program.
REP. FALLIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
REP. FALLIN: I appreciate your commitment on that.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: We'll go to Mr. Bartlett, and then I think it'd be about 20 minutes -- it'll be before noon, but we have -- we do want to get on the record with some of these things. So I regret I have to ask you to stay, but we're very appreciative of your patience.
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you very much. And noting the trust that we have, I will not be able to return. And I have implicit trust in my colleague that he will not lead this committee astray in my absence.
I want to use the few moments we have to use the Joint Cargo Aircraft as an example of the consternation and confusion that we have here as a result of the fact that we were not included in any of the discussions that led up to the submission of the budget.
Several years ago the Army determined that in the low-intensity conflict kind of a war that we were in now that they needed a new cargo aircraft. That was concurred in, by the way, by the Institute for Defense Analysis, which just recently released a study looking at the movement of cargo by C-5s, C-17s, C-130s and the Joint Cargo Aircraft. And they concluded that in the kind of a conflict that we're involved in now that, as a matter of fact, we needed between 90 and 100 joint cargo aircraft.
This was initially an Army program, and since the Air Force was involved in these same conflicts and would logically need a similar kind of aircraft, the DOD decided that the Air Force ought to be a partner in the procurement with the Army. The Air Force very reluctantly became a partner. They were kind of, as some might say, dragged kicking and screaming into this relationship.
So here we are now after the initial Army study which indicated that the Army needed 78 of these aircraft. The Institute for Defense Analysis said it was really in the upper 90s that was needed. And here we are now with a budget that says that the program is going to the Air Force, which didn't want to be a part of the program in the beginning, and that we now only need 38 aircraft.
We have asked the three or four set of witnesses that have come to us before was there any study that indicated that the need had in fact dropped from the 90-some indicated by IDA or the 78 that was the confirmed -- the JROC confirmed that this was a need for the Army. By the way, the Air Force need was never added to that 78, so the total number would have gone up. Perhaps that's the 90-odd that was indicated by IDA.
So here we are with a budget that says that the program is going to move from the Army to the Air Force, that the need is only 38 aircraft. And just recently -- just less than four months ago the Quadrennial Roles and Missions Review report says -- and this comes from the same organization that now presents us with this budget -- that the option that provided most value to joint force was to assign the Joint Cargo Aircraft, the C-27J, to the Air Force and the Army.
So I hope that you can understand our consternation and our confusion because we were not a part of any of the discussions that led to this. Indeed, I think that many in the building were not involved and the Pentagon were not involved with this because every panel that has come to us before says that we're going to buy at least 38 of these, that this is a discussion matter within the military, that probably the initial number we got was not very well vetted.
Mr. Chairman, I won't ask for a comment to that because I know it's late and we need to go to our votes, but thank you very much for holding this hearing.
And thank you all very much for coming for your testimony and for your service to our country.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes. We're going to recess now and then reconvene as soon as possible. But perhaps during that time you can reconnoiter with one another and come back with an answer. Whether Mr. Bartlett's here or not, let's start with your response to Mr. Bartlett when we reconvene and then we'll probably conclude the hearing relatively quickly after that depending on the answers. (Laughs.)
REP. ABERCROMBIE: (In progress) -- resolution offered on the floor and it took up the better part of half an hour for that in addition to the other votes. That was the reason. We weren't being desultory or anything, or casual, in trying to get back. And again, I express my thanks to you all.
We'll start again.
When we left, I had indicated that if it was possible to have some response for Mr. Bartlett -- Mr. Ahern, perhaps you could take it, or anybody else, just for purposes of dealing with that. I don't have the question precisely in front of me, but it concerns his observations about the Joint Cargo Aircraft, and the rationale both for the transfer to exclusive jurisdiction, I think is probably the right phrase, to the Air Force and the question of changing the numbers that would be sought given the context that had been established about strategic necessity.
MR. AHERN: Yes, sir. And this came up, of course, at the hearing yesterday, as you certainly recall, and I did look at it a little bit more yesterday afternoon and this morning.
In regards to the budget, what that reflects is 38 JCA or 38 C-27 to recapitalize the 38 Sherpa and recognition of the capacity of the C-130 fleet would be sufficient until the department has time, which would be done in the QDR, to do a full analysis of the inner theater lift requirements.
But in regard to the QDR Roles and Missions that Representative Bartlett, Ranking Member Bartlett, mentioned yesterday and again today, there's an additional thought in there that I wanted to mention, sir, and that additional thought really has to do with recognizing the lessons learned from the ongoing operations in theater, that there could be areas for improvement and by looking at policy, looking at doctrine, looking at CONOPS, that there might be an improvement to intra-theater airlift.
And so again, in conjunction with that QDR as well as the transition of the responsibility from the Army to the Air Force and the planning that they are doing on that, there is an opportunity to improve effectiveness, joint synergy and minimize the duplication of effort were the two thoughts that I wanted to say, one in addressing the budget for this year, and one, going forward, the opportunity recognized in that roles and missions that there are opportunities for improvement.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
Anyone else? It's not necessary. Okay. Thank you.
Mr. Ahern, I want to move to a Future Combat System and some little bit more general inquiry. If you can tell me at this stage, I'd like to know what specific FCS contracts or subcontracts are going to be terminated as the Army carries out Secretary Gates's instructions. And when might that occur?
That is to say, either the decision about it or if the decisions have been made or are presently contemplated, what's the time frame? We're asking the question because it helps us determine what we're going to try and do with regard to recommendations to the full committee.
MR. AHERN: Yes, sir.
The major contract -- and I'll certainly defer to General Thompson to amplify it -- is the FCS contract, and I believe the way forward, and I expect the Army is working on it hard now, is in restructuring in that contract where certain elements of the contract will be restructured, certain elements of it will be terminated.
I cannot give you a time scale for that, but what I believe the direction was was after the system of systems PDR was completed would be the time that the Army will begin to address the restructuring of the contract and the termination. And as General Thompson said earlier today, that system of systems preliminary design review was completed I think in this month, recently.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes, can you address perhaps more specifically? Say below the system of systems idea, then what contract or subcontracts are you looking at at the moment?
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, as we go forward the first step is -- there was two trigger events that needed to happen for us to begin the work forward on the contract. One was the completion of the system of systems preliminary design review, which I mentioned happened last week, and so we'll gather from that the technology advances that have been done in the program to date.
The second trigger point is the official guidance to the program that comes from the new defense acquisition executive, Dr. Carter, in the acquisition decision memorandum, which is in the final stages of being put together right now with staffing comments coming from OSD and the Army, and I would expect that within a matter of days for that to be done. And so that is the official guidance on where we go forward with the program.
We'll then look at the large contract that the Army has got is with Boeing, who's got subordinate contracts with I believe the number is 22 second-level contractors. We will restructure that major contract and it will take us between now until the end of the summer to be able to do that because there are so many second- and third- order effects with that major restructure of the contract.
Part of that will be -- once the ADM is signed and consistent with the guidance that comes from the defense acquisition executive -- will be to halt the work on the manned ground vehicle portion of that and then work to harvest the technology out of that, and then we will restructure the contract to redefine the relationship with Boeing.
And then we'll subsequently redefine the relationship with their subordinate contractors, in particular General Dynamics and BAE, who have got the subordinate contracts on the manned ground vehicle. There's going to be a re-discussion and a restructure of that contract between those two and Boeing.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: So you'd be modifying the fee structure in the course of those discussions?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. And I've had conversations with the senior executives in Boeing and SAIC who co-lead that effort, and they know fully it is our intent to renegotiate that fee structure and they're expecting to do that with us.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. What's the relationship, then, of the Army ground combat vehicle program as it's now re-evolving, if you will, in relation to the DOD acquisition policy, this new acquisition policy that you've mentioned in a bit more general terms of immediate needs and et cetera? Because inevitably, then, I would think that would, as you've just indicated, probably involve, going to involve, multiple contracts to develop prototype vehicles. So what I want to know is are you doing this -- do you have a clear idea -- does the Army have a clear idea of what the Army ground combat vehicle program will look like in the context of the emerging acquisition policy? Or is the acquisition policy still at too vague a stage for you to do that with clarity?
See, understand the reason why I'm asking the question? You're being asked to do a very specific thing here pretty quickly, and I'm not entirely sure that the acquisition policy of the DOD is as clear as your new mission. Does that get you in trouble, commenting on that? It's not meant to be a -- no, it's not -- it's not meant to be a critique of your bosses or anything. I'm trying to reflect on what we're going to -- I'm trying to get an answer on this if I can in the next -- if not today, in the next two weeks, because I'm sure you would agree this is a key element in trying to figure out what we're going to recommend.
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir, and believe me, I understand your question.
And so if the acquisition decision memorandum is signed within the next few days, as we would expect, then we'll be able to come back over and talk to you individually or to the staffers, Mr. Bush or whoever you want us to talk to, to explain the details.
But the path forward on the requirement side is to re-evaluate and to look with the Training and Doctrine Command and with full participation with OSD, to re-look at the requirement for the ground combat vehicles, and the direction that we're going to follow is to make sure that we've captured all the lessons learned from the war effort --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That's fine with me. You will not have to go into any detail as such. I certainly don't require anything like that. But what I will need to know is what's the cost of that because a lot -- not just in dollar terms, but how do you plan for that? How can we set the foundation, dollar-wise, for you in that so we can fit it in to all the other demands that are being made?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir, and subsequent --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: In other words, we want to fund you correctly.
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir, and we'll be able -- it's in the budget right now and what we think that needs in FY '10 to be able to go forward, and as we look at the acquisition approach, the best competitive acquisition approach on the ground combat vehicle, we'll come back and lay that out as well.
But we won't know the specifics of that acquisition approach until the fall, after we renegotiate the restructured contract with Boeing. What we do know is that the large major Defense acquisition program that was heretofore known as FCS will probably devolve into three major programs -- one the ground combat vehicle, one a major Defense acquisition program that talks about the spinouts and the systems that are in those spinouts, and the third major Defense acquisition program will be the network and the software, and then the subordinate program elements that go with that. So you'll see the one large MDAP devolve into three.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Got it. Yeah, and, you know, on paper that looks fine to me. I think I said that in my opening remarks. I understand that. But it does raise a logistical question -- not a friction question but a logistical question.
If you're going to be restructuring, if you will, the master contract to accomplish this trifurcation that you've enunciated there, how are you going to keep the "spinout one" activities on schedule? Or is that part of the -- I presume it's part of the negotiations, because I'm sure you don't want to slip on that if you can avoid it.
GEN. THOMPSON: We don't want to avoid -- we don't want to have a slip in the schedule if we can avoid it, but --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: On the spinout.
GEN. THOMPSON: On the spinouts. We think we've put the appropriate amount of dollars in the '10 budget to do that, but I'm being perfectly honest here, as I've been perfectly honest inside the Defense Department -- it is going to be very, very difficult for us to keep to the schedule for the spinouts, which we had intended to field the first one, the first brigade, in FY '11, because of the massive nature of the work to restructure this large contract.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. And if that happens, then that happens. I meant it in my remarks, and I think you could hear it in the remarks of some of the other members, it's better to have a realistic understanding of what that is than to try and jam something into a calendar number because it would make us all feel better if we thought that was going to happen. You don't have to try and make me feel good. I just want to feel confident.
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir. And my basic approach is I always go to the people that have to execute the work and ask them what is a realistic expectation for you to be able to get this done?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
REP. BARTLETT: My assessment right now, you know, it could be in FY '11 as we planned, but if it is it's going to be very, very late in FY '11. But my realistic expectation is it's probably going to slip a little bit.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. In fact, I wouldn't even use the word slip. It's going to be changed. That's all. I mean, "slip" has at least some implication that things have been messed up or that kind of thing, and that's not -- I don't have that attitude toward it at all. I just think we're getting more realistic about what we can do, either both in time and money -- then that's helpful to everybody, it seems to me.
Okay. Well, do you have any idea then -- maybe Mr. Ahern has this -- what the termination cost would be to cancel the manned ground vehicle aspects of the program? I'm speaking about the termination now. Are there some ballpark numbers for that?
MR. AHERN: No, sir, I don't have any ballpark numbers for that at all, not at this time. Maybe General Thompson --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: There wasn't some understanding of what that might be should that occur? I mean, that's always implied. It's not like somebody can come in and say oh, I'm shocked, you know, there's gambling upstairs. Somebody can't come in and say oh, I'm shocked, we're having to restructure the fee here, or if something gets canceled we have to have a termination. You must have a formula there.
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, we do. We have a government estimate right now on what that termination liability might be.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Has that been shared with us?
GEN. THOMPSON: No, it hasn't. The specific number will be as a result of the --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: You can do that on a staff level.
GEN. THOMPSON: At the staff level, but I can say that the termination liability on this major restructure is going to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I understand that. The main thing to be understood here in turn is we're going to work together on this. This bill has to be a cooperative and collaborative endeavor that's going to advance the interests of the nation and the Army in particular.
I think you folks know, and for those -- maybe there's some here who are new to this. Those of you who know me for a long time, I've always felt the Army was on the short side, particularly because we never resolved the procurement on the research and development side versus maintenance and operation and deployment costs.
We never dealt forthrightly with the acquisition of capital assets, a capital budget, and an operating budget. And what's happened now is the warnings that have been out there for a long time that the procurement side of things was going to swallow everything, and not just undermine but I think almost eviscerate the capacity to have a sensible operational and deployment maintenance and management side of things, operational side of things be funded correctly.
So I understand what's going to happen with this, but it's got to be an incentive to us to get an acquisition policy that takes into account getting a capital budget operation of some kind, a capital budget structure, I should say, of some kind. Maybe the new acquisition bill we just passed and sent to the president can help bring that about, but that's why.
We do need to know that cost because I've got to be able to figure that in. I know I'm going to get asked right away, well, how much is it going to cost to terminate this, because that immediately impacts everything else that we're dealing with.
So if you can come up with either a guesstimate or a good-faith figure in the next two and a half weeks, I'd be grateful.
Now, if you go to the termination cost estimate for the entire program, or everything associated and ancillary to the manned ground vehicle aspect, is it likely then that the vehicle portion is less than that amount? The estimate that we have right now is around $1 billion.
From the budget materials we have so far and our quick analysis of it, we think that it's going to be in the neighborhood of $1 billion altogether and I'm presuming then that the vehicle portion would be less than that. Or would it be a major portion of it?
GEN. THOMPSON: The vehicle portion would be the major portion of it, Congressman Abercrombie.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. Well, you see where I'm going.
GEN. THOMPSON: I do.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I just need to have a clear idea so that I can tell my colleagues and the chairman what is likely here.
GEN. THOMPSON: We believe that in the '10 budget we calculated in what we think what would be the appropriate termination liability costs, but again, the specifics will be the actual discussion with the contractors. But we think we've got it right, and we'll get the breakout between what's ground combat vehicles and the rest of the FCS --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Once we have that, then everything else can follow in terms of where you want to get to. We need to get that off the table so that we have -- then the path is clear as to where we want to go.
Finally, then, you've mentioned as recently as just a comment or two ago -- and I hope you heard when I made my opening remarks talking about the network software and hardware element and the $415 million increase. I extrapolated out of it the National Security Agency information assurance requirements, and I'm not sure what that means. Am I correct that the $415 million is related to the, quote, "National Security Agency information assurance requirements," unquote? Are you familiar with what I'm speaking about?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir, I am. I don't know at the tip of my fingertips here whether all of that increase in the software cost is related to information assurance requirements, but that's certainly a portion of it, because it's --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: What are those requirements? I'm not familiar with any of it and I thought I was paying close attention.
GEN. THOMPSON: It is the protection requirements for the software to make sure that they are not -- the software is not compromised and the computer network --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Well, see, why are you having to deal with National Security Agency requirements? Is that the rule?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir, it is. For the Defense Department, the National Security Agency sets the requirements for how to protect the networks not just in the Army but across the Defense Department.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: But those networks don't exist right now.
GEN. THOMPSON: As we develop the future -- there's a network today, and as we develop the increments of capability for the future networks, we've got to comply with the requirements to make sure those networks are protected against --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: But why would they be coming up this year? Why wouldn't that have been built into the requests that were around the network before?
GEN. THOMPSON: They were in the previous requests, Congressman. I just don't know how they were --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Were they not differentiated? Do you know, General Speakes?
GEN. SPEAKES: Sir, I do not know.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
MR. AHERN: No, sir, I do not know, but I do recognize exactly what General Thompson is saying. As we develop the new networks, there are -- I can't think of the right word. It's not certification but there is testing for, as he said, information assurance for the networks that NSA provides that oversight. So I think we could get back to him.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay, that's helpful.
GEN. THOMPSON: Congressman, what I would --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That's helpful. You understand I've got -- the communication networks I'm skeptical about, again, time, and it's not that I'm trying to argue that you shouldn't do it, but this is my 10th term. I've been hearing about this even before the Future Combat System, about the network and communications and interoperability and et cetera for so long, and then it's never appeared as such. And so when I see something like this, I mean -- you know, that's a considerable sum of money. It's almost half a billion dollars. And I'm not quite sure what it's connected to.
And when I'm looking at trying to assist you with where you want to go now and the various dollar figures that are going to be required, naturally I'm going to look into can we reallocate funds that we really don't need right now into things that you do need right now to accomplish the direction you're going?
GEN. THOMPSON: And so what we'll do, Congressman, in the next couple of weeks, we'll come up and see the staff and show them what is the subordinate elements of the costs that are in the budget for network and software.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay, fair enough. But can you be prepared, then, to take a look at this whole network communication projection and see what -- again, let's be realistic about what we're doing and not doing? Thank you.
I want to conclude -- is there anything you'd care to add? Any thoughts that you have as the result of everything we've done so far?
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, I've got just a couple of quick things --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That's fine.
GEN. THOMPSON: -- on some of the questions for the members that are no longer here.
Congressman Wilson asked a question about the power assist on MRAP doors, and every MRAP variant and the doors on those variants has a cylinder to assist on each door now, and we haven't received any reports to improve the current capability. So as I said in my previous comments, we adjusted the power assist for those doors and I can report to you that every MRAP variant has those power assists on the doors today.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Fine. In that context, before you go on, I mentioned to Mr. Ahern yesterday in discussing or responding about the idea of a business plan or what made business sense and so on. I think the MRAP as it's unfolded and the way you've handled it is a good example of why what constitutes good business practice for the military isn't necessarily the same thing.
I was going to say like for General Motors, but we can see how great they're doing -- how's that going? It may be small comfort to the Pentagon to finally be able to say, when somebody criticizes you for spending money, and how come you can't run it like a business, you'd be well within your rights to look out there and say, well, what business do you have in mind that we can compare it to?
My point being is that you're dealing by definition with a business that isn't necessarily going to comport with the standard model of corporate manufacturing and so on, and I think the way you've handled the MRAP approach is a good example of the right way to do things. You have multiple vehicles done with different companies.
They're all in competition, if you will, with one another, and they've come up with different approaches that are suitable for one context and maybe not as good in another, and you're trying to differentiate those and they're all being manufactured and brought online for specific purposes I think in very rapid fashion and with excellent results. Whoever's been overseeing the programs -- and for multiple services.
So I think this is a good example of where you had multiple requirements, fierce competition and excellent oversight by having the mission clearly in mind and that the Army was pretty much in control. You didn't subcontract out your own responsibilities as such; least, this is my perception of the way this has worked.
So just being able to do what you say here, you've got different kinds of vehicles but you had a common problem you had to deal with in different vehicles, and you oversaw a solution and it got done in rapid order. Is that a fair summary of what's happened?
GEN. THOMPSON: Yes, sir, it is a fair summary, so just a couple of points.
One is that is has been a joint effort, that it's a joint program office led by the Navy and the Marine Corps with significant Army participation. And I would say that the MRAP is a great model for how to use the flexibility in the acquisition system.
It's my full expectation as we work together with OSD would use the same flexibilities we use with the MRAP program as we both develop the requirements for the joint requirements process and the acquisition of the ground combat vehicle so it doesn't take us a decade to get the ground combat vehicle out there, which is a sorely needed capability.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. Yeah, and maybe we can just use what's already working. There's no law against it, right? (Laughs.) We don't have to invent this particular wheel. Bad analogy, but okay.
Then yes, you weren't finished, though, now.
GEN. THOMPSON: Sir, the question from Congressman Hunter about the brownout issues. The UH-60 (mike ?) Black Hawk upgrade that we have right now on the advanced handling system is going to give us the capability, once we finish the development, to do automatic takeoff and landing in brownout or whiteout conditions, and I just wanted to get that on the record right now because of some of the technology that we're going to put in there, I mean, particularly the fly-by --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: We'll get that to Mr. Hunter.
GEN. THOMPSON: And then we'll follow up in more detail on that.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
GEN. THOMPSON: And the last one for clarification was a question asked by Congressman Wilson on the carbine. We will have the rights, the technical data rights, to the M4 carbine beginning in July. We're going to have a performance-based competition for the carbine. The new carbine requirement is in staffing, as I indicated, that'll go to the joint staffing process here very quickly, and we anticipate approval on the requirement by the end of the summer and the RFP release in late summer, which is a few months later than I indicated earlier.
I just wanted to clarify that for the record.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you, excellent.
Any final thoughts, General Speakes? Okay.
Mr. Ahern, I'm pleased that you were able to be at both of these hearings, because in a certain sense I'm going to rely on you and our new acquaintanceship for what this subcommittee has as its primary jurisdictions with the Army and the Air Force.
And I hope that you can see from some of the questions and observations made by the members over the last two days that I have my own friction issues to deal with -- not necessarily because different interests are rubbing up against one another and causing difficulty, but the politics of defense on the legislative side requires people who are in a position of responsibility to make recommendations to the subcommittee and the full committee to be aware of them, to be cognizant of them, and to be cognizant of the merits -- not just the demerits, but the merits of the various positions.
Some of them seem parochial to those on the outside, but they're also the responsibility of individual members and if they happen to be in their districts or something, so be it. That just means they're that much more familiar with it, from my point of view.
So my point here is that the reason that I'm asking so many of these questions and pushing you and the services with regard to how we allocate the funds within the policies established is that there's competition that I have to take into account, whether it's the Joint Cargo Aircraft, whether it's the F-35, whether it's the F-22s, what's to be done or not done, the Strykers, the various elements of the Future Combat System, et cetera.
I'm now charged with the responsibility of blending these requirements and necessities to meet our strategic interests and at the same time recognize that I've got to have a balance in there that's acceptable enough to get the votes to make it acceptable to those who have the responsibility of that little plaque out in the anteroom there that says that Congress shall provide for the armies and navies, et cetera.
So I'm just putting that on the record, not because I don't think you know it but, rather, to make it crystal clear that it's foremost in my mind and so that both the questions and observations that come from me and the others are entirely based upon how can we put this together in a way that will satisfy the nation that we are in fact defending the nation's interests with the maximum possible effort and focus and understanding of what they are and meeting the practical responsibilities of putting a defense bill together that can sustain itself in the appropriations process?
So your aid and assistance over the next couple of weeks in accomplishing that would be most gratefully received.
MR. AHERN: Absolutely.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: And acknowledged.
MR. AHERN: Absolutely, sir, and I welcome the opportunity. Thank you for the opportunity.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Good.
Thank you all very much. Again, I apologize for the length of time that you had to spend in waiting to complete this, but I assure you, your efforts -- the efforts made here today will be closely attended to when we make our decisions. (Sounds gavel.)