Chaired By: Rep. Neil Abercrombie
Witnesses: Paul L. Francis, Director, Acquisition And Sourcing Management, Government Accountability Office; William R. Graveline, Assistant Director, Acquisition And Sourcing Management, Government Accountability Office; Marcus Ferguson, Senior Analyst, Government Accountability Office
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REP. ABERCROMBIE: (Sounds gavel.) Aloha, everybody. Thank you for coming today.
The Subcommittee on Air and Land is meeting to receive testimony on the Army's Future Combat Systems program from the Government Accountability Office, the GAO.
The Army was invited to provide witnesses and had agreed to do so, in fact, submitted a statement last week. I was indisposed and the hearing had to be postponed until today. As of yesterday, at least the staff of the committee was notified -- the Army didn't see fit to inform me as the chairman -- that no witnesses from the Army would be available to discuss the FCS program and the GAO report today.
I want to make it clear to everybody that the hearing is not about FCS in 2010. There are budget considerations under way right now, program considerations under way right now among the president's staff and the Department of Defense, internal discussions going on there. I'd indicated to General Casey that I understood that and in fact indicated to him so that there would be no question in his mind that these were serious issues to be discussed, that we're not in a contest; we are trying to determine what is the best path forward. Serious decisions had to be made and I wanted to try and make them together on the basis of what was good for the nation.
I also indicated that as far as the hearing was concerned it was about the GAO report, which I considered a critique as opposed to criticism, i.e., an analysis bent on discussing merits or demerits of the program or adding to or subtracting from positions that were taken about either individual parts of the FCS system, the Future Combat System, and/or the overall philosophy behind it, that the GAO report, as I read it, had nothing to do with any of that, rather it tried to -- and I think successfully did -- address what are the premises of the program, what were the procedures and processes in place and implemented, or not implemented, to try to accomplish the goals and purposes, and critique that with the idea of then presenting findings and observations as to the success or lack of it in terms of the premises established by the Army itself.
I'm speaking a little bit to our witnesses here from the GAO with the idea of establishing what's in my mind, and if you have something different, as I'm outlining my reading of your report, you're of course not only free to do so, but I hope you will indicate it. But I see some heads nodding a little bit and the body language I'm getting is I do believe that I'm stating this correctly.
And the idea of the subcommittee taking up the GAO at this time was to provide illumination, I would have hoped, for not just the Army but the Pentagon and the executive to be able to come up with conclusions and recommendations that we could incorporate into the defense bill.
The fact that the Army has chosen not to even appear but to leave standing, I guess, the public relations announcements that were made in the wake of the original publication of the GAO report and its summary as reported in the news media leaves me to conclude I guess that they don't have any real argument with what you are saying; otherwise they'd be here today.
So taking the Thomas More approach, silence is assent. So as far as I'm concerned, the Army has given its assent to the conclusions and observations and the approach -- that is to say the methodology -- that was used in the GAO report. If they have a different point of view, they apparently are reserving it to themselves.
Transparency is the byword and watchword these days. It certainly is that of the Obama administration. I had no reason before today to believe that that would be otherwise with Secretary Gates and/or the chief of staff of the Army, but the actions speak for themselves. They're not here. They had the opportunity to be here. As I say, I will take then silence to mean assent. So no explanation for this change in willingness to provide the Congress and the American people with an update on where the program stands today has been forthcoming.
The goal of this hearing is to lay out for members and the public where the program is today, what has been learned and where we might go from here. After authorizing and appropriating -- forgive me, members of the committee and for you folks from the GAO; much of this is known to you, but this is in fact a public hearing and there may be many people out there for whom this information is new. After authorizing and appropriating more than $18 billion in taxpayer dollars for the Future Combat System program since 2003, it's important that the Congress what has been accomplished and how much work remains to be done.
The president appears to have some views on defense programs, those view being relevant, I believe, to the FCS program when he said as follows, and I quote: "It's time to end the extra costs and long delays that are all too common in our defense contracting. We need to invest in technologies that are proven and cost-effective. If a system isn't ready to be developed, we shouldn't pour resources into it. If a system is plagued by cost overruns, it should be reformed. No more excuses; no more delays. The days of giving defense contractors a blank check are over," unquote.
Today's hearing hopefully will help Congress and the public and perhaps even the Army if it's tuning in -- I presume that they can get their C-SPAN channels on as well -- which will help them understand, I hope, those qualities that apply to the FCS program.
With regard to the GAO, over the past several years it has been my experience certainly personally and I think the experience of the Armed Services Committee in the House that the GAO has done excellent work in its oversight role not just in the FCS program but in every other area that we've asked for the observations and recommendations of the GAO. While the Army at times has disagreed with judgments made by the GAO and its analysts, the reports the GAO has produced have helped Congress focus its oversight on critical issues and it has provided, in my judgment, independent and dispassionate views not just of this program but of all the other programs that it has made recommendations and observations upon.
I believe that the 2009 report on the FCS continues this tradition. Since its inception, the program has faced serious questions regarding technical feasibility, cost estimates and basic conceptual tenants.
From a technical aspect, the fielding dates have moved from 2008 to 2010 to 2015. That speaks for itself.
It is clear now that the Army from a technical standpoint has had little real idea of what exactly development of FCS would entail. As a result, the Army has constantly changed the requirements for individual elements of the FCS program as reality began to intrude on each element's design. I could give several examples which I will produce for the record, but they'll probably come out as we explore.
One point I do want to make, though. Just last June, while making claims of acceleration of the program -- which was made in fact to me face-to-face when I first heard about it in my office, that the program was actually going to accelerate; that was the word used -- the Army was in fact forced to delay the limited user test for Spin Out number 1 equipment by a full year because the equipment was simply not working well enough to proceed with the test as planned. That constituted an acceleration -- just don't do the test. Well, if you don't do the test, you can accelerate the spinout, the assumption being that there will be absolutely nothing go wrong and that when it comes forward it will be able to be utilized on the spot.
So the cost estimate has faced challenges. The program's cost has grown from $91 billion in 2003 to $159 billion today by their own estimates. That does not include the cost of the spinout equipment, estimated at 17 to 21 billion dollars alone for Spin Out number 1. It does not include the cost of the Joint Tactical Radio System program or the Warfighter Information Network Tactical program, both of which the FCS program requires for fielding. This has been one of the issues that I've raised over and over again. If you cannot get the radio system and the information system integrated, then what is the efficacy, then, of pursuing the rest of the program, for which the information exchange system is crucial?
So finally, then, I want to go to the basic conceptual idea that the idea was that through technology and computer networks, sufficient knowledge of the enemy's position could be achieved to conduct most engagements at standoff range, thus allowing very lightweight vehicles to survive on the battlefield. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I believe have called some of this into question, but that remains to be seen; a case can still be made.
The point is that every single vehicle deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan now weighs more, not less, and has more armor, not less, than the original design entailed. So while it's always a worthy goal to put the enemy at a distance and avoid putting troops at risk, I think the reality of 4,000 years of military history shows that achieving a perfect situational awareness is very difficult, if not impossible, to achieve and that the troops face thinking enemies, not static dummies or static situations.
So the question of concept -- technology and implementation and cost -- all are relevant here and I think the GAO report addresses those elements.
So today's hearing, we -- also, I would be disingenuous if I didn't indicate that we're looking, then, not just at one program in isolation but how that fits into the big picture of readiness and capabilities of the Army as a whole. For the Army, the fundamental choice appears to be keeping the new larger Army we have today and the larger Army we are pursuing and pursuing at the same time a massive list of Army acquisition programs, of which FCS is just one on the books. General Casey himself has indicated with the term "out of balance," quote-unquote, that this is a difficulty.
Whatever phrase one uses, however, the basic facts remain the same: The people in the Army are wearing down from years of deployments; the equipment in the Army's inventory is just barely keeping up with the demands the two wars we are now engaged in require. So we face a choice not just with the FCS program but a choice as to where the Army is going, and I'll lay that out as I conclude what I think is at stake in our decision making.
It could choose to end the program entirely, which might save money but would also negate much of the work that has been done to date. It could continue as planned and hope things work out as the program now assumes and that the funding for the Army's other needs will somehow materialize even as the FCS program costs continue to grow. Or it could fundamentally reorganize the FCS program now to take advantage of some of the work done so far but take a much more sober and realistic and disciplined approach to moving forward with the program while investing the savings in less-risky modernization plans. This committee, of course, and the committee as a whole would be delighted to work with all concerned to achieve that.
So the purpose of today's hearing then, finally, is to set the stage for that discussion, which we expect to have once the Army's fiscal 2010 budget proposal is delivered to the Congress.
I will turn now to my good friend Mr. Bartlett for his opening remarks.
REP. ROSCOE BARTLETT (R-MD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chairman, regretting the absence of the Army, I nevertheless want to thank our panel for being here. We're very fortunate to have each of you here. You provide a very valuable service to our country. Thank you for coming today.
As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have always been guided by President Ronald Reagan's wisdom that America will ensure peace through strength. Upholding our Constitution and maintaining a strong defense should be our highest priorities as federal elected officials, because if we don't get these priorities right, nothing else will matter.
Today we're here to talk about the Army's Future Combat System program. The General Accounting (sic) Office has recently released its yearly report on the FCS system.
By the way, as you know, Mr. Chairman, the requirement to generate this report came from this subcommittee. In fact, there have been multiple legislative provisions in regard to this program that were all generated from this subcommittee. And Mr. Chairman, although in recent years we have differed in regards to decrementing the program, every one of the FCS legislative provisions was done in a bipartisan manner and I applaud your leadership.
There have been recent media reports about a pending major restructure to the FCS program. I would add, Mr. Chairman, that while I understand that we in Congress have many difficult decisions to make in this upcoming budget cycle that it would be premature for us to condemn the program going forward until we have seen the results of the 2010 budget, full transparency regarding the potential restructured program, and finally, the results from the congressionally mandated go/no-go review. And again, Mr. Chairman, this review is another provision that originated in this subcommittee.
One last point: While I understand the primary purpose of this hearing is to discuss programmatic issues and concerns, I believe it is difficult to have such a conversation without a thorough understanding of what led the Army down this path. I've heard that some believe that this is a Cold War system. I'm not really sure what that means, but it's a good bumper sticker. I believe the Army could benefit from thoroughly explaining what the future threat is and what the capability gaps are that have led the Army down this path. Is the foundation that launched the Army into this program in 2003 still valid today? What lessons have been applied from Iraq and Afghanistan?
At the end of the day, whatever happens, the Army must be allowed to modernize. Parents are reluctant to send their children to school without the latest and greatest cell phones; they certainly aren't going to want them to join the Army so they can defend our nation in vehicles that were designed in the '60s and built in the '70s. And forcing the Army to choose between personnel and modernization isn't a choice at all.
I believe that there should be a balance between acquisition and procurement for current needs in research and development for future opportunities. I am a farmer as well as a scientist and engineer; I would caution if the Army is forced to eat its seed corn, which is its R&D, then we will forgo in large measure the potential of future harvests of better technologies.
I look forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and I want to thank you again for your service to our country and for appearing before us this afternoon.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you very much.
Before I get to our witnesses I am going to -- on my authority, with the acquiescence of the subcommittee -- put into the record a statement by Lieutenant General Ross Thompson III which was originally submitted on March 17, given to us for testimony on March 17th. It said "Not for publication until released by the Committee on Armed Services," so I'm going to put this into the record. I regret that General Thompson isn't here to speak to this statement, but I think it's important to be in the record whether or not the Army is here so that at least the public has the opportunity to see what the Army thought last week.
One other administrative point: We will allow members present at the start of the hearing to ask questions in reverse seniority order. I alternate between senior members one hearing and then the least senior members the next hearing, being able to start the questions so that everybody has the opportunity.
So with that in mind, we will go to Mr. Francis, the director of acquisition and sourcing management from the GAO, Mr. Graveline -- is it "Grave-line?"
MR. GRAVELINE: "Grav-a-lyn," sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Pardon me?
MR. GRAVELINE: "Grav-a-lyn."
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Graveline -- Mr. Graveline, the assistant director for acquisition and sourcing management, and Mr. Ferguson, the senior analyst from the GAO.
And I read it in that order but that doesn't necessarily have to be the order in which you testify. It's up to you gentlemen.
MR. FRANCIS: I thought I might surprise my colleagues and go in reverse order.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. (Laughter.)
MR. FRANCIS: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Bartlett and members of the subcommittee.
We're pleased to be here to discuss Future Combat Systems today. I'd ask that our statement be submitted for the record.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Without objection.
MR. FRANCIS: And what we've been asked to do is to walk through our March, 12th report, so how I would propose to do that is each of us will just basically take a section of the report and walk through it, if that's alright with you.
I was surprised when we read the press accounts from the Army and the reaction to our report. We do have I think a pretty robust process for vetting the draft report, meeting with the Army, soliciting comments. We got full concurrence from the Department of Defense on all the recommendations, so indeed, I was rather surprised by the Army's reaction.
So I think our analysis is clear, as you'll see. We don't have a position on whether the program's a good or bad program or whether it should or shouldn't be pursued, but simply can it be executed for the resources that are estimated? And I think that's our job and that's the counsel we provide to you.
I'll just start off by talking a little bit about FCS. I think many of you know these things, but in the interest of it being a public hearing I thought I should cover them in any event.
FCS is a revolutionary program for a variety of reasons. The weapons that it embodies, the fighting concept that comes with it and the organizational communications systems that come with FCS are all revolutionary. It's a system of 14 systems whose combat capability largely comes from an unprecedented information network.
The FCS does present a smaller, lighter force than what's currently fielded but does offer or advertise that that smaller, lighter force will be as lethal and survivable as the current M-1 and Bradley force.
It's a system that will rely a lot on robots -- unmanned air vehicles, unmanned ground vehicles, unattended sensors, unattended munitions -- but the heart of FCS is the communications network or the information network. And in a very basic sense the network is going to enable the Army to substitute information for mass, so the vehicles in FCS, as I mentioned, are going to be lighter and they're going to be designed not so much to withstand a hit but rather to avoid taking a hit. I think that's sort of the design philosophy for FCS.
The network that we're talking about is not like any network that we're familiar with. If you think of a cell phone network or the Internet, those are basically fixed infrastructures. So your cell phone, while it's mobile, as soon as you make a call, like if I was going to call Mr. Abercrombie, my cell phone doesn't connect to his cell phone; rather, it connects to a cell tower and into a fixed infrastructure which then eventually gets to Mr. Abercrombie's phone. Same way with the -- I thought you were a Luddite, Mr. Abercrombie; I am surprised you have one. (Laughs.) Even the Internet, if you have a wireless laptop, you're one connection away from a fixed server and right away you're into a fixed infrastructure driven by fiber optic cable; the network does not move.
But the FCS network is quite different. It's a mobile self- forming network whose linchpin is what Mr. Abercrombie mentioned in his opening statement, the joint tactical radio. All of the vehicles, both manned and unmanned, all of the sensors, even the unattended munitions have some form of this radio in them. And the radio is software programmable; it's a computer that functions both as a radio and it is your cell tower, if you will, so all the communications, all the relays go through these radios.
So again, if I'm going to make a call, say, to Mr. Ferguson on the end here, if I call him or I want to send him information, the FCS network will decide how to route that communication and it may route through all of the members of the panel before it gets to Mr. Ferguson. And then if he's going to respond to me, we're all in vehicles or on foot, we've all moved before he responds so that when he does respond that message could take a different route coming back.
And so the network will decide what radios it's going to use as relays to send that information, so the real challenge is what happens if you have 5,000 radios operating and you're really dependent on getting that information right away. So it's quite a different network. There isn't anything like it today.
Having said that, there's a lot of things about FCS that we do like and we do appreciate. The idea of having an architecture where you can see how you're going to fight before you design individual systems I think is a very good approach and something the Army has not done in the past. I think it would have been easier for the Army to have designed and built a new Bradley or a new M-1, but they didn't do that. They wanted to look ahead and see what they really needed and they broke with tradition, so they didn't do what was easy; they did what was hard. And I admire that and I think the Army leaders deserve our respect for that.
Where GAO comes in is our analysis is on can they do it. It's not enough for it to be a good idea. It's not enough to want it. It's not enough even to need it. You have to be able to do it, and we have a number of concerns on that regard.
And so I thought I would talk a little bit about our methodology, how we look at this program because that's part of the contention between us and how the Army looks at the program.
So I have the first chart there and I believe you each have a handout, if you can't read the chart, but I'd just direct your attention to the top bar there.
When we look at programs we basically look for three knowledge points -- does everyone have a chart?
So if you look on that top bar, there's a black triangle there called KP1 and PDR. That's Knowledge Point 1 and Preliminary Design --
MR. : Could you direct us to where the chart is?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Hang on one second --
MR. FRANCIS: Okay.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: On the charts.
MR. FRANCIS: It may be at the end of your statement.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: You have some extra? We'll pass them out. I thought it was in the back of the statement, but --
MR. FRANCIS: I thought so.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: -- it may not be in there inadvertently.
MR. : In the back of the GAO testimony.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: It's in the back of the GAO testimony, but we'll pass it out anyway.
MR. FRANCIS: Okay.
So on Chart 1 there's a -- on that top bar there's a black triangle called -- it's Knowledge Point 1 and Preliminary Design Review.
What we look for early in a program, which is -- that's the Milestone B decision when you start a system development -- we look for mature technologies and stable requirements. And the way you get a gut check on whether you have that is through a preliminary design review where you're actually matching requirements with technologies. This is also codified in DOD's acquisition policy, so it's not just our methodology; it's DOD policy. So we look for that when a program starts.
About halfway through -- just move to the right, the next triangle, Knowledge Point 2 that's critical design review. About halfway through system development we're looking for the design of the system to be stable, and stability is achieved by having integrated all the different subsystems. The technologies are done and you're actually ready to build high-fidelity production representative prototypes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Excuse me, Mr. Francis -- that can be replicated, right?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That when you do something one time, you can do it two, five, 10, 20, 100 times?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes. And then when you build those prototypes after that point, you're actually establishing your ability to be able to repeat.
The third thing we look for -- Knowledge Point 3, the third black triangle there -- coincides with the Milestone C or initial low-rate- production decision. And what we're looking for there -- and, again, in DOD policy -- is a mature design that's been proven through testing. It proves that it meets requirements and that it's reliable and that it can be produced. So that's the lens we use.
FCS is in the sixth year of a 10-year program and it's nowhere near the level of knowledge it should have, using this as a guide. That's why we believe, and our report says, we think it's unlikely that the remainder of the program can be executed as planned because there aren't many resources left.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: For purposes -- the committee can see this; I'm not sure that those who are viewing it can see the chart. I'm not sure how the camera -- they can't see it, is that right?
Could you explain, then, the second line where the technology development start -- the PDR, in an ideal setting is --
MR. FRANCIS: That's what I just went through.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yeah. Now, where is it in the second line?
MR. FRANCIS: I'm going to turn that over to Mr. Ferguson. He's going to walk you through that. So we have a game plan.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay, very good.
MR. FRANCIS: This is not to be a criticism of FCS in the sense that we think FCS should have gone better, shouldn't have had any problems --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: No. No.
MR. FRANCIS: -- it's just where it is.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That's not an issue. Let's put this to rest right now. We're not here throwing rocks. We're here to analyze where we are and what the situation is. We're dealing in real time, with real numbers, in a real situation in which we have a defense bill that we have to put forward shortly. That's what this is all about. That's all it's about.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: We're not here to throw rocks on the green. I'm not interested in that -- never have been.
MR. FRANCIS: So I'll just wrap up here by saying 2009 is going to be a very big year. There's a go/no-go decision that is scheduled for late summer, which this subcommittee championed. We look at that as a grassroots look at the program to see if it should continue or not. Congress has -- or in what form -- Congress has laid out criteria that DOD is to respond to in doing that review.
And my colleague Marcus Ferguson is going to go through -- he'll go through the bottom half of this chart and basically stack up what we think the Army will know against those criteria at that milestone decision.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Please pull your mike close to you, Mr. Ferguson.
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you.
MR. FERGUSON: Good afternoon. It's a pleasure being here today. I'll be discussing the Army's activities leading up to the congressionally required milestone review happening later this year.
Congress outlined numerous criteria for that review. These criteria relate to four key areas: technology, designs, demonstrations and cost. We found that the FCS program has knowledge gaps in these areas. As a result, we believe the Army will be challenged to convincingly demonstrate the knowledge necessary to warrant an unqualified commitment to the FCS program of record at the 2009 milestone review.
The first of these key areas is technology maturity. Technology readiness levels, or TRLs, are measures pioneered by NASA and adopted by DOD to gauge technology maturity. The maturity assessment is based on two factors: fidelity of the test article, and fidelity of the test environment.
For instance, a TRL 4 would be a low-fidelity breadboard in a laboratory, while a TRL 6 would be a prototype that is very close to form, fit and function demonstrated in a relevant environment. It's TRL 6 that is the minimum acceptable maturity level required by DOD to begin development. Applying this standard means that FCS should have achieved TRL 6 in 2003. The Army now expects to demonstrate TRL 6 for all technologies by May of this year.
I'd like to use an example that illustrates why it's so important to mature FCS technologies. As Mr. Francis pointed out, these vehicles break from traditional survivability methods which simply used a lot of armor.
They rely on a layered approach to survivability that begins with the information network technologies to enhance situational awareness and avoid detection.
If that first layer fails and an FCS vehicle is detected and fired upon, then hit-avoidance technologies -- like the active protection system -- would need to counter the incoming threat. If that layer fails, then the FCS vehicle must be able to withstand the impact using the lightweight armor technologies that are currently in development. Each of these survivability layers depends on a maturation of those associated technologies.
Technology maturity has been a key predictor of program success. Historically, acquisition programs that proceed with immature technologies have much more cost growth than those with mature technologies. Extending technology development this late into the acquisition process puts FCS at risk for experiencing problems that may require large amounts of time and money to fix.
MR. FRANCIS: Excuse me, Marcus, could you -- on the chart there, show the members where we are with technology, because that's the second bar there.
MR. FERGUSON: Certainly. Right.
So if you'll look at the timeline at 2003, at the top portion that Mr. Francis just discussed has Knowledge Point 1 and PDR. If you'll come down to the second area where the FCS approach is, they started -- that second shaded bar, that's system development and demonstration, in 2003, but not all their technologies had been matured to a TRL 6. So now we've progressed six years and spent $18 billion and now we're at the preliminary design review, and technologies are now getting to the point where they should have been to start the development process.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Six years?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: At what point are they now?
MR. FERGUSON: They're approaching preliminary design review where they have -- they plan to demonstrate all technologies to a TRL 6 by this summer.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: To demonstrate that?
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Would that mean that the -- I want to make sure I understand this because Mr. Francis just said, with regard to the radio network -- I'll just refer to it as the radio network.
MR. FERGUSON: Okay.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: There isn't anything like it today, I believe is your exact quote. There isn't anything like it today.
Does that mean that the radio network is now at a stage -- the last time I saw it it was being simulated.
MR. FERGUSON: Right.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Now, is it at a stage now where it's ready to be integrated at the sixth level?
MR. FERGUSON: No. The TRL 6 would be for the individual radios and not the integrated comprehensive network. So that would progress in phases. You would have the TRL 6 demonstration for just the individual radio capability, and then you would start netting together all of those individual radios to demonstrate that you can actually produce a mobile ad hoc network.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: But wouldn't that be the level six? Am I misunderstanding you? That would be the level six. An individual radio, what's that? That's just a start.
MR. FRANCIS: Right. Mr. Abercrombie --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Am I misunderstanding?
MR. FRANCIS: No. The level six is just the individual technologies. The integration of the technologies and whether they can actually form a network is to be determined. So the TRL 6 is your first triangle. It's your starting point.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes, I understand that. But I didn't -- I still don't -- not sure that I understand how just simply putting a radio in isolation -- that doesn't have anything to do with the integrative requirement.
MR. FRANCIS: Correct. It's the first step to getting there.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: If it's the first step, then how come it would be labeled at a six level? Wouldn't that be at the beginning level?
MR. FRANCIS: That's the beginning level, but that's just an individual technology to see if you have the building blocks to put a network together.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. All right. Yeah.
MR. FERGUSON: The next key criteria area relates to requirements in designs. The first real check to determine whether a system's design is able to meet requirements occurs at that preliminary design review we just discussed. And so if you'll turn back to our graphic you'll see that the PDR ideally would have happened in 2003. For the FCS, this is happening six years later -- this summer.
Nevertheless, the Army has worked very hard defining the FCS concept, detailed requirements and preliminary designs for the family of FCS systems and the information network. The Army plans to complete its review of the requirements and designs for individual FCS systems and the information network, and conduct a comprehensive system of systems preliminary design review before the go/no-go review this summer.
However, the schedule to close out all those reviews may take more time than anticipated. The Army has identified key gaps between the requirements and designs for several elements of the information network. Also the projected weight of the FCS manned ground vehicles has grown significantly beyond earlier estimates, which could have a number of impacts on their cost and performance. In the coming months, the Army will have to address these and other issues as it charts its course for the next phase of development.
The third key criteria area pertains to demonstration of the FCS information network software and the overall FCS concept. As Mr. Francis pointed out, the network is crucial to the FCS concept, as it's designed to ensure that Army forces know more about what's going on in the battle space than does the enemy.
The Army has been able to demonstrate capabilities on a limited scale; however, DOD officials tell us that this type of network the Army is developing becomes more complex as more radios are added -- an issue called scalability. As a result, it's hard to have a great deal of confidence in the network until demonstrations become more robust and incorporate more real production representative hardware components. The Army will be challenged to meet the congressional direction to demonstrate, rather than just simulate, that the network concept will work by the milestone review.
To date, the Army's conducted many simulations but only limited demonstrations of select capabilities, including the manned ground vehicles and software. It has not yet attempted a broad field demonstration of the FCS concept as a whole. That type of event will not happen until 2012 as part of what is called the Limited User Test 3. That is about one year before the Army plans to begin low-rate initial production for core FCS systems. If that demonstration is unsuccessful, it may require major changes to the FCS family of systems at a time when change is usually the most costly.
The final key criteria area for the go/no-go review relates to cost and affordability. The Army's original estimate for developing and procuring FCS was $92 billion.
The Army's current estimate is $159 billion. These figures do not include the cost for complementary programs, or spinouts, as you pointed out, Mr. Abercrombie. In the coming months, the Army is expected to update its cost estimate for the FCS program. Last year the Army indicated that FCS cost may increase substantially, but it has not yet indicated whether it would trade off FCS capabilities to accommodate those higher costs as it has done in the past.
The Army did signal that it may reduce funding for upgrades to current force systems, such as Abrams and Bradley, to provide additional funding for FCS. While the updated program cost estimate should be a better representation of actual cost than previous estimates, the program still has many risks and unprecedented challenges to meet, and thus the estimate will likely change as more knowledge is acquired over time.
I'll now turn to Mr. Graveline who will discuss several other key aspects of the program. Thank you.
REP. BARTLETT: Mr. Chairman?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes.
REP. BARTLETT: I want to make sure I understand this flow chart. Am I to understand that we have critical design review before technology development is complete? And if so, how do you do that?
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Bartlett, which -- where are you looking on the chart?
REP. BARTLETT: I'm on the bottom thing there. You have technology development continuing until about 2013, and yet you have critical design review -- we're doing it in about 2011. And I want to know how you do critical design review before you have technology development completed.
MR. GRAVELINE: I would just say that it's a matter of having the review, versus accomplishing the goals of that review. They're attempting the preliminary design review here shortly and it's --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Graveline, for benefit of the record, could you pull the mike a little closer and repeat what you just said?
MR. GRAVELINE: Okay. I'd address that question by saying, well, it's one thing to have the review and it's another one to complete the objectives of the review. Certainly, to get a good solid preliminary design review or a critical design review, technology should not be a question any longer. They should be mature. So at this stage that's still to be determined with FCS as to whether -- how successful those reviews are going to be. And technology will be one of those questions that needs to be answered.
REP. BARTLETT: They're just presuming the results of the technology development in their critical design review?
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Bartlett, there's actually two things going on here. We have plotted on the top chart -- the Department of Defense and the Army use the metric of TRL 6 as technology maturity. What we've plotted on the bottom -- our work shows that TRL 7 is the better measure. So that bar down below, we say that's when they will get a TRL 7, which will be after critical design review. But the Army believes they only need TRL 6 to hold that review.
REP. BARTLETT: Your best practices chart on the top shows technical development completed before you do the preliminary design review.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. BARTLETT: And here you have technology development still continuing after you have done critical design review. I'm just confused.
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct. That is the strategy for future combat systems. They will not be done -- fully done with technology development until the production decision.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Bartlett, your question is a good one.
Do you understand what's being asked here, Mr. Francis? I think you do. But the audience -- (laughs) -- and everybody may not be clear as to what we're talking about.
Mr. Bartlett, as you know, is a physicist and a scientist, so his level of incredulity when the proposition is put forward as it just has been is understandable. What he's saying, quite simply, is you mean you're going to go ahead with something before you know whether it's going to work.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes. That's correct.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Is that a colloquial way of putting it?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: And that has been -- and that's the difficulty here. It has been the difficulty for the subcommittee all along is you are trying -- what the FCS approach seems to be is that if the laws of physics don't apply the way we want it to apply, we will bend the laws of physics verbally so that we can say, well, before we've reached technology maturity -- or what the DOD definition is of that -- we will simply presume that that's going to occur and move on to the next stage.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Is that an unfair not necessarily a summary, but an unfair analysis of the approach that they're using?
MR. FRANCIS: No. I think that's a fair characterization. It's a concurrent approach to do technology and design at the same time and, as we'll talk later, actually start to commit to production before you have the design done.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. I've characterized this myself in the past as sympathetic magic. And I'm not being sarcastic about it. It's an anthropological term. It's well known. Magic is not always evil. Not always sticking pins in people to -- or in dolls to make them hurt. Magic also takes place when you engage in incantations and so on in order to try and have a good outcome.
And what's being said here is if we talk about the critical design review and the technical readiness level being synonymous or advancing verbally, then maybe it'll actually happen. The problem comes, does it not -- in relation to Mr. Bartlett's question -- if that doesn't occur?
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct. If it doesn't occur and you've created all of your estimates around that assumption, then you cannot get the program done for those estimates.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: And that causes us then to run into a real brick wall with a lot of bleeding from the eyes, does it not?
MR. FRANCIS: It does.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
MR. GRAVELINE: Okay. Good afternoon. It's my pleasure to be here today to discuss our most recent work on FCS. Beyond the cost and technical issues that Marcus just covered, I would like to discuss the road ahead for the FCS program.
The Army faces a number of challenges as it moves forward to complete FCS development. We believe that under its current acquisition strategy the FCS program may not be executable within current cost and schedule projections. The schedule for spinouts is aggressive and production commitments may happen before adequate supporting knowledge is available. The remainder of the current FCS program of record is very ambitious and events are driven more by the calendar than by the achievement of specific acquisition knowledge.
To illustrate, I'd like to turn your attention back to our Chart number 1 here. As we have already discussed, the Army has, among other things, been developing technologies and defining requirements since 2003. In 2009, the Army is approaching the preliminary design review point and the potential achievement of Knowledge Point 1.
Ideally, the critical design review would be held halfway through a program.
The desired outcome of this event -- as Mr. Francis indicated earlier -- is that the design is shown to be stable. In FCS's case, the critical design review will be held eight years into the 10-year program. Moreover, the Army has scheduled only two years between the preliminary design review and the critical design review and another two years between critical design review and production.
This ambitious schedule leaves little room to gain knowledge and make needed adjustments between the key events in the systems engineering process. It also results in prototypes being built from the less mature preliminary designs, as opposed to the more mature critical designs.
I'd like to now turn to Chart number 2, and that's also in your handout called "Remaining FCS Research and Development Funding in Key Events."
MR. FRANCIS: (Off mike.)
MR. GRAVELINE: It's a (ski slope ?).
The Army's cost estimate for all of FCS development is around $30 billion. Through fiscal year 2009 the Army has received about ($)18 billion, or about 60 percent of the total estimated. Of the roughly 10 years projected from program start to the projected beginning of initial production, FCS is approaching the sixth year -- or 60 percent mark.
Within the next four years the Army will have to further mature and integrate many of the individual critical technologies -- which we already talked about -- mature the system designs, complete the development, integration and testing of a huge volume of software, fabricate numerous prototypes, conduct extensive development testing and the fix-test-fix kind of approach at the end, and prepare the design, processes and facilities for production.
If the current FCS program receives approval to proceed at the next -- at the milestone review, the Army will have to complete development with only 40 percent of its financial and schedule resources remaining and what is typically the most challenging, expensive work ahead, such as building and testing of prototypes. We don't believe that this to be an executable strategy.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Graveline, before you go further with that, is that because you are assuming that the $30 billion of funding for research and development will remain static?
MR. GRAVELINE: Yes. Yeah, we assume the current program of record, until the Army decides to increase their program estimate -- they could, and actually they indicated to that extent last year that they may be headed that direction. Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Did you have a figure for that? Or am I anticipating the rest of your testimony?
MR. GRAVELINE: In our report and in the statement for the record I believe we talk about the Army's projected cost increases for the program. And they were talking about $2 billion in development and upwards of ($)17 billion in procurement. So there was a $19 billion cost difference.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Added to the 30 (billion dollars)?
MR. GRAVELINE: No, not to the 30 (billion dollars). That would be to 159 (billion dollars) -- the whole program.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: What about the 30 (billion dollars)?
MR. GRAVELINE: The 30 would be about 32 (billion dollars).
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
MR. GRAVELINE: But that's probably just the first down payment on additional cost there.
To carry on, though, for the last few years the Army has not only pursued the goal of eventually fielding 15 FCS brigade combat teams -- that's what's called the core FCS program -- but also field-selected FCS capabilities to current Army forces. The Army plans to spin out some early FCS capabilities to infantry brigade combat teams in 2011 and other FCS capabilities later. The initial production decision for these items is now expected this December. However, testing to date has been limited and it has involved surrogate or non-production- representative systems or forms of the spinout systems.
The three tests scheduled for later this --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: What examples do you have? Give us an example.
MR. GRAVELINE: Well, for one, some of the radios that are intended for the systems that we've talked about already, they'll be using surrogates for those. And some of the other systems are still in design and they're using an engineering development model type of thing.
The three tests scheduled for later this year will also follow that same practice. That is a concern for us and we've recommended that DOD base its initial production decision on testing of the actual systems to be fielded.
In conjunction with its spinout efforts, the Army Evaluation Task Force at Fort Bliss has been, in our view, a wise investment by the Army in that FCS and other capabilities will be given early evaluations by active-duty soldiers. The lessons learned from this process should be very beneficial.
Finally, let me spend a moment to discuss the Army's plans to pursue an incremental approach for FCS. Last year Army officials said they were considering an incremental, or block, acquisition approach for FCS for several reasons. One was immature requirements in several key areas, challenges in meeting performance expectations within program cost and schedule, funding limitations, and continuing challenges in aligning schedules and expectations for FCS and its complementary programs.
At this point it is not clear if this incremental approach will feature reduced --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Graveline, excuse me one second.
REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Could I interrupt?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Marshall has an inquiry.
REP. MARSHALL: I'm on Page 7 of your written testimony and there are four items listed as part of this incremental approach and the second item is "limited availability of performance trade space to maintain program cost and schedule given current program risks." Could you explain what performance trade space means? I'm just not familiar with that concept.
MR. GRAVELINE: Well, it's where you a have a couple of competing requirements and if -- to accomplish -- you really are finding it difficult to accomplish them both, where, for example, the Army's -- the manned ground vehicles are turning out to be quite heavier than they anticipated. The designs are -- with the new armor they are using and other things. So that has an impact on the speed and endurance of -- and range -- how far you can go on a tank of gas, for example.
So that's one that there's a tension there because the manned ground vehicles -- the engine and the propulsion system will only give you so much thrust. So the heavier you are, the slower you will go and the less range you will have. So that's one of those tension things where they can't work out both right now.
REP. MARSHALL: This may be a term of art in your business, I don't know. So when you say limited availability of performance trade space, what you're saying is that a given component of the system has a number of different requirements. And you might be able to give a little bit with one requirement, but at some point if you're given a little bit here, given a little bit there, the capability just isn't going to be -- the total capability just isn't going to be what was expected. Is that what's meant by this limited availability of performance trade space?
MR. GRAVELINE: Correct, and at this point you can't accomplish everything. And frankly, that's what they're finding in the preliminary design reviews, which they're doing a whole series of, you know, early ones on the pieces and they're finding out gaps like that that they just can't get everything.
And so there's a laundry list of items that they'll have to work through after the reviews are done and make some trade-offs and give a little bit here and do additional things in other areas. So that's kind of the --
REP. MARSHALL: A trade space you're -- that's what you're referring to --
MR. GRAVELINE: Right. That's kind of the trade-off that --
REP. MARSHALL: -- is to swap this for that. It might be a little less here, but we're going to get more there.
MR. GRAVELINE: Correct. Or they may turn around and they have to decide that, well, we'll have to -- like on the weight issue, they're actually probably too heavy, so they'll have to do some design work and other -- maybe even technology work to reduce the weight. So there'll just be another thing added to the workload to work that out in different ways.
REP. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MR. GRAVELINE: Okay. And at this point it's not clear if this incremental approach will feature reduced requirements for some FCS systems or reduced sets of FCS systems to be produced or fielded or a combination of these options. Restructuring the FCS program around an incremental approach has the potential to alleviate at least some of the risks inherent in the current strategy.
We look forward to hearing more about the Army's incremental plans for FCS when they are finalized. In any case, an incremental approach should be carefully scrutinized.
Now I'll turn back to Mr. Francis for some concluding remarks.
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Chairman, just something very quickly. And we're putting up a third chart. It should look like this in your handouts.
The one thing I want to draw to your attention here -- it's a busy chart -- but while the development of the FCS program is finishing late, the commitments to production are coming early. And I just wanted to point out on the congressional calendar what's going to be expected of you in the coming years.
So at this time next year, February 2010, that's when the first request for FCS production money will come for core systems -- it's for facilities. But that'll just be a few months after your go/no-go decision you'll be asked to put up the first production money. A year from that, February 2011, will be the second year of production money. And again, you're still before the critical design review. The third request for production money will come in February '12 -- that'll be for FY '13. And at that time you'll have had the critical design review, but that Limited User Test 3 -- which is the first system of systems test -- will not have been held yet.
So conceivably the Congress will have -- could be asked to invest $50 billion in FCS , 12 (billion dollars) of that being production, before we have a test where we think the FCS can do what it's supposed to do. So those commitments come pretty quickly.
So, Mr. Chairman, that's the -- it was a long opening statement, but we're ready for anymore questions you might have.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: It's difficult not to observe that it's understandable why the Army isn't here, although I just want to repeat for the record: We're not here to beat anybody up. That's not the issue here. These are life-and-death issues, and the people, as you observed yourself, and I would emphasize that, are doing this -- you know, the motives are good and the intentions are clear, but that doesn't necessarily make something happen.
And these are deadly serious issues, not just figuratively. But they're certainly really, really serious with respect to where the money, the resources are.
Have you concluded, then, Mr. Francis?
And we'll go to Mr. Massa first.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes, sir. Yes.
REP. ERIC J.J. MASSA (D-NY): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And gentlemen, thank you for the work that you do as oversight and watchdogs of the American taxpayers' money.
Mr. Francis, you said at the heart of this entire concept is a radio network. Did I understand that correctly?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.
REP. MASSA: And we will be asked in the very near future to fund approximately $1 billion in procurement for what is generally known as the radio system called SINCGARS. Are you familiar with that?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes, I am.
REP. MASSA: And would you characterize that as a radio frequency-hopping single-channel VHF mobile radio system?
MR. FRANCIS: I'll take your word for it.
REP. MASSA: Do you have an understanding of whether or not this $1 billion in procurement for a 1982 legacy system developed under an (ord ?) in 1976 from the United States Army has any compatibility at all, either theoretically or operationally, with the FCS network of radios that you have mentioned are at the heart of this system?
MR. FRANCIS: It will be compatible, but it cannot function as that relay that I talked about. So it can talk to FCS, but you're not going to be able to route any message traffic through the SINCGARS radio.
REP. MASSA: And is it not true that the ability to write message traffic through the radio system at the heart of this is in fact what creates the revolution in information warfare that characterizes FCS?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. MASSA: So while it can function, it cannot do what FCS has at the heart of its technological revolution. Is that correct?
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct.
REP. MASSA: So we're getting ready to spend a billion dollars in radio equipment that has nothing to do with FCS as it moves forward?
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct.
REP. MASSA: I'm trying very hard, because I am burdened with the reality that I was in the room when this concept was created. I'm trying very hard not to be punitive, but to date, besides one Class 4 UAV -- which in fact had nothing to do with FCS but in fact was a Navy system that was procured off the shelf -- besides that, it is my non- expert opinion, and I'm just an upstate New York country farm boy --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Watch out.
REP. MASSA: -- (laughs) -- I really would like to express for the record that the most important weapons system yet created by FCS is approximately 700 tons of PowerPoint slides. And unless we plan on dropping them on the enemy, I don't understand how this is ever going to become reality.
And it's a matter of common sense.
Army acquisition on one hand is asking us to spend a billion, with a B -- and I know we toss that number around here like it's normal, but back where I come from in farm country, $1 billion is still a lot of money -- $1 billion on a handheld radio system developed with technology in 1976 that has virtually nothing to do with what the Army is telling us is the backbone of the future of the network of radio systems that the Army wants to move forward on.
Can you kindly tell me why I should vote to spend $1 billion on something that has nothing to do with what you and the Army is saying is the future of the Army?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I beg your pardon, Mr. Massa, but Mr. Francis cannot kindly tell you that one way or the other -- not in this hearing, anyway. (Laughs.)
REP. MASSA: I apologize for being emotive about this, and I understand at the core of professionalism is objectivity. But we as legislators are asked only to command money. That's all that we're asked to do. And yet we talk about a $40 billion cost overrun as if it's normal, because we've allowed it to become normal. A billion here and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
I value your input because I know you're dispassionate. You bring to the table something that I don't -- I bring a lot of passion to this, because again, I was there when this started. And the thing that Chairman Abercrombie brings to this table that all the generals who have been before us do not is longevity.
We've heard it all. We've seen the parade of experts over time and we have a corporate memory that this has been going on and on and on. And we ask -- at least I do, as a new guy -- when will it end? And so I appreciate your testimony and your frankness, but I illustrate for the record that we're being asked to make decisions that are in direct contradiction to common sense. They are in direct contradiction to procurement policy. And frankly, I don't know if I can support it.
Can you please give me some measure of hope that we can get to the bottom of this in an intelligent manner and in fact look to the future?
MR. FRANCIS: I can try.
REP. MASSA: Thank you.
MR. FRANCIS: I think what we're seeing here is the larger problems with acquisition as we know them. That is, when a new program is proposed and it's proposed with an optimistic schedule and everyone counts on that and then it doesn't come, well, what happens in the meantime is the current forces have to be sustained and they need equipment.
And I think that's the case with SINCGARS versus the JTRS. The JTRS was supposed to be fielded years ago and was supposed to replace SINCGARS and EPLRS.
REP. MASSA: And yet many of us who are on the staff of this committee and supported the members who had the main decisions said very clearly what was being proposed would never happen, over and over and over again.
We're throwing acronyms around like they're cereal floating in an alphabet soup. The non-line-of-sight cannon -- it's an artillery piece. The manned ground vehicle -- I saw "a tank-like vehicle." It's a tank.
And yet we believe that somehow by giving them a new, revolutionary name that we're going to be led to believe that something revolutionary is going to happen. And when it doesn't, those of us who said, "I told you so" have nowhere to go but to then go back to the American taxpayer and pull money out of their wallets, especially now at a time when they don't have them.
That's the frustration that freshmen members of Congress like me who are embedded in dairy farm common sense bring to this table.
MR. FRANCIS: Well, I think that enriches the discussion because, you know, those viewpoints -- I think those of us who've been in the business, I think you're right. After a while, you get used to, well, 10 percent cost increases isn't much, but it is.
But just to come back to SINCGARS, what ends up happening is you get a request because we have to replace things for the forces that are in the field today, and the reason we're having to do it is the things that we promised never came. And we've been in that cycle for quite some time now.
REP. MASSA: Well, thank you for your frankness. I apologize for my passion about this, but I think it's important that we bring some reality back to these PowerPoint presentations and frankly understand that what we're ultimately talking about is fielding weapons systems for soldiers so they can break things and do the work of the nation when we ask them. There are radios out there that are far beyond SINCGARS that were developed just in the past five years that are more cost-effective and cheaper.
And Mr. Chairman, thank you for your patience with me. I yield back my time.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: No, not a bit.
Mr. Kissell, and then Mr. Bartlett.
REP. LARRY KISSELL (D-NC): You have another freshman up here, and while I'm not from upstate New York and don't have the dairy farm common sense, I maybe can refer to down South, North Carolina, living in rural areas and working in textile mills.
We don't go in these hearings in a vacuum of other information or what we've learned in other hearings. One of the hearings that we've had recently is on procurement and the statements that were made is we just keep making the same mistakes.
And it does become very hard to accept that cost overruns are a part of life and that we, at some point in time, have got to have the consequences and systems to take care of that.
That said, in the opening remarks, Mr. Francis, you said you were surprised at the Army's reaction. Can you characterize that a little farther, please? What was that reaction?
MR. FRANCIS: The Army had said they didn't understand how we came up with some of our calculations and didn't agree with our methodology. And my surprise is that we've -- I think the press has characterized our report as scathing and used other adjectives, but we've been very consistent over these past five or six years and we hold the program to DOD's own policy. I don't know of any other way to look at the program.
REP. KISSELL: Have you had the chance to get with the Army since then to help explain that it should not have been surprising?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes, we have.
REP. KISSELL: I'm an economist by college background, and one of the words that economists use a lot and we've heard a lot recently is "let's assume." And we have been seemingly using that concept, you know, in this procurement process -- let's assume it's going to work.
And somewhere in my past I came across there's levels of knowledge: things you know that you know, things that you know you don't know. One of those areas of knowledge is things that we don't know that we don't know. In this kind of process, we have an assumption in the charts that are going rapidly towards out of money before the procurement process is tested and implemented.
Based upon themes like this we've done before, what's out there that we don't know? What's the chances there's going to be some glitches that we just can't anticipate that is going to throw this off even more?
MR. FRANCIS: I think there's a lot of discovery out there, as the conversation we had with Mr. Abercrombie about TRL 6 technology for radios. That's that first point, so you have -- I think the term of art is unknown unknowns and you go through those when you develop that radio, and you solve them and you make trade-offs.
But now we are about the business of integrating that into a network that has to function with other systems. There will be other discoveries there and I think what you find when you go through a system development like this is as the design is better understood, complexity increases because you make those discoveries.
REP. KISSELL: And the no-go or go point: How is that decision going to be made and who's going to make it?
MR. FRANCIS: You want to take that, Bill?
MR. GRAVELINE: Sure. The Congress set out a number of expectations of certain analyses and assessments that should be done in preparation for that. The Army's going to be coming forth with a series of presentations -- data, studies and the like; others in the Pentagon are going to be bringing things forth. There'll be a cost estimate and even an independent cost estimate.
So things are all in play already to bring this information together that'll be assembled and evaluated by -- really, first by DOD staff people in the Pentagon to put all this thing together and sort it out, and then at the end it will be the Defense Acquisition Board, and the undersecretary for AT&L is the chairman of that.
And they'll get together for at least a series of meetings and discussions to evaluate what do we have here, because that's the whole essence of this go/no-go where the program -- most agree that it didn't get a good start, or the starting point was just let the Army go on this, even though technologies weren't in place, it wasn't a good cost estimate, requirements were nebulous at best.
So the committee legislated -- I believe it was in the '06 legislation that it would be a good point out here around preliminary design review to come back together once you've done some work, you've got your technologies in order, the requirement process is completed.
Then get together and say where are we, and is this product that's emerging, does it continue to make sense? How achievable is it? You'll have better information available to look at those, make solid projections, rather than just a wish that we can have it done at a certain time -- to do a real go, no-go. Does it really make sense? And so that was the essence of the logic of putting this requirement together.
And so again, things are in play already to get the information, the studies, the various viewpoints coming together this summer. The Defense Acquisition Board will get together; I believe they've already scheduled that at the end of July. And then there'll be a report or maybe series of reports that will be issued and reported to the committee.
I believe the legislation says 120 days after preliminary design review, so it's going to be a busy time in the Pentagon and in Army circles going through that, and we intend to keep on top of that and review all the materials as they come in too.
REP. KISSELL: But it's the Office of the Secretary of Defense who will make that decision and not the Army.
Okay, thank you, gentlemen.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Bartlett.
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you very much.
Can you help me understand the Army's urgent field need that embarked us on this never-before-used development and procurement protocol, obviously fraught with uncertainties?
MR. FRANCIS: We were involved just before the program got started and did hear the Army's rationale. I think they were looking ahead to next generation and to future forces and they were looking at future combat systems as a replacement for the heavy force. It was going to replace M-1s and Bradleys, but it was going to do so in such a way that a smaller force could have the combat power of a larger force.
It would be easier to get the equipment into theater and easier to support it when it was there. So I think it was, in terms of art again, as long as we're talking, it was a capabilities-based decision that the Army thought it needed this capability for the future versus reacting to a particular threat.
I think there was also a thought at the time that there was a limit to how much armor you could put on a vehicle, and some anti- armor weapons were out-stripping the ability of armor to protect and you would have to take another step now to provide that protection, which now would be in the form of the information network.
REP. BARTLETT: But that relates only to specific vehicles, not to this very complex, integrated system.
Let me ask a couple of kind of practical questions here. Another provision that was initiated at the full committee level was the elimination of lead systems integrator, and I suspect future combat systems had something to do with that.
Obviously, the lead systems integrator has an intimate relationship with the subs, and communicates with them on a continuous basis to know what they're doing and are they really getting there.
The usual contracting mechanism that we have -- we, the Pentagon, have with the industry is that we interface only with the prime and we see the subs only through this really dark prism of the prime. Do you think we ought to look at reconsidering that if in fact we're going to be the lead systems integrator?
MR. FRANCIS: I think so.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Mr. Francis, when you answer that question would you elucidate a little bit on what we mean by lead systems integrator? We know what we're talking about, but again, we're being viewed by people for whom that may not be a familiar phrase.
MR. FRANCIS: Certainly. A traditional contracting arrangement would be, say, between the government and a prime contractor. And this has been changing over time, but generally you'd look at that as an arm's-length relationship where the government will write a set of requirements and the prime contractor is responsible for designing and building a system to meet those requirements. And the prime contractor brings with them all of their suppliers, so the government only has visibility, really, into that prime contractor.
A lead system -- now the DOD has been trying to get away from that over time. They've been going with integrated product teams and arrangements like that, so it's a closer working relationship.
The lead system integrator is perhaps the closest working relationship that we've come across, and that's a situation where the government actually partners with a contractor and the contractor helps the government make decisions about requirements. And what the government gets out of that, then, is in the case of FCS the government can participate in the selection of the contractor's suppliers, so they get a lot more visibility there.
So you give up the arm's-length relationship but what you gain is joint decision making and the government gets more insight into the supplier base. I think that enables --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That works two ways, doesn't it?
MR. FRANCIS: It works two ways --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Oh, yes.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes. It does make the government more agile but then it becomes, in our view, a little more difficult for oversight because it's hard to separate the contractors' contribution from the government's contribution. But I do think insight into the suppliers into the suppliers is a benefit of that relationship.
I think the government can get better insight without necessarily having to go through a lead system integrator relationship with another contractor. So I take your point. I think there are lessons to be learned for the government; if the government is to be the integrator, it should find ways, I think, to get more visibility into the suppliers.
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you. One more kind of a common-sense question: Obviously, we can increase of the cost of these systems if we go to slow and we increase the cost of the system if we try to go too fast, which is what we've done here. How do you know from the get-go whether you're going too fast or too slow? What's the right balance between these?
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Bartlett, I think it's knowing where to go fast and where to go slow. And our view, and we've benchmarked this, again, against the best practices in commercial industry, is you really need to do your risk taking before you declare something to be a program that you're going to put on a fixed schedule and budget. So the place to experiment, then, is in the science and technology base, when you can explore, make mistakes, have failures and decide what is then in the art of the possible. The systems engineering discipline then gives you criteria that you can use to say when you know enough to actually commit to a schedule. So I would say, if we have a robust science and technology phase where you can actually push those technologies and weed out the doable from the undoable, then I think you can have a pretty quick development phase for a system. So for example, if you could trade off requirements so you get that match between mature technologies and requirements, I don't think it's unreasonable to think about a five- or six-year development phase because you're focused only then on integrating the product and not worrying about technologies.
REP. BARTLETT: Didn't we do it very much quicker than that with MRAPs? We kind of broke all the rules there, didn't we? And I gather, a pretty successful procurement.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes, but to a large extent the homework had been done on those vehicles -- the technology development and the integration. So we did some modifications to them, but we were able to buy them largely off the shelf.
REP. BARTLETT: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to return to my initial question. This was obviously a very risky development and procurement protocol, and I was never appraised of the urgent field need -- what enemy out there had capabilities that forced us to that very revolutionary protocol for developing and fielding this system. If there was that kind of thing out there, if this had the urgency of the Manhattan Project, then I understand. But I'm having some trouble understanding how we ever got started down this road with no really urgent field need out there that necessitated this kind of risk taking.
MR. FRANCIS: Well, I think that would be a good question for the Army to answer. I do think a large part of it dealt with no so much a change in the threat but the fact that the Army did have aging equipment and they were looking to replace it. But I think the Army should handle that one.
REP. BARTLETT: Thank you very much.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Thank you. Before I go to Mr. Marshall -- then, on this, so I make sure I'm clear. What Mr. Bartlett's talking about and what has been alluded to and what is specifically here in the slide that you had about best practices approach and the FCS approach, is that if there was such a need, right -- equipment is coming to an end of its usual life; is there another generation of equipment that would prove useful in one situation or another? The way to do that is what the Army already had out there. First, you do technology development and you move to technology readiness levels and you do your preliminary design review, and you do everything in order, right? There's a book --
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Right. This is not being made up now. You didn't make up this chart.
MR. FRANCIS: No.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: There is a book out there, and you follow the book along how you do these things. You make sure you have your technology maturity and then you go to your low-rate production, et cetera, et cetera. Right?
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: What we're seeing here is is none of this was followed.
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Or it was cited in the breach. These phrases would be used or these benchmark measurements would be cited, but they weren't cited in the order in which they were expected to appear had you been doing it in the ordinary course of events.
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: And so that's where our difficulty is, then. It's not just a matter of too fast or too slow, it's a matter of not following the procedures.
MR. FRANCIS: In my view, they were about a phase off. When we have this preliminary design review in 2009, we're right about the time you'd have enough information to start a program.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes.
MR. FRANCIS: But we did the cost estimate six years ago, when we knew very little.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Right. So in some respects, they are accelerating. What we're doing is accelerating right through the -- what the book requires in terms of times and expense; it might take a little longer, but it might at least -- you would be dealing with measuring apples to apples.
REP. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I guess I'll stay with Mr. Bartlett's question as well. And it's unfortunate the Army's not here with us. If the Army were here with us, I think that the Army would be very easily able to make the case that having a system like this system available to it is hugely helpful in combat, that it's very appropriate for us to support the Army in attempting to develop a system like this, and it's very understandable that the Army would want to design it as proposed, just sort of given the way combat works.
And I'll bet the Army would say that just -- unfortunately, as its effort evolved as it got into it and started working it, just time slipped, that in the ideal world, it would have developed all of the technology that was needed for this program before moving to the next stage, or at least been confident that that technology was deliverable at a reasonable cost, and it just didn't work out because it's been too difficult to develop, and so they just felt they had to move forward with the rest of it, sort of looking at their overall estimates, the limits of the budget, the sort of cost creep that inevitably attends, pushing things off, you know, those sorts of things. And I bet the Army would -- and probably one of the reasons the Army's not here is the Army sort of looked at this and went, yeah, god, you know, we started this thing with a very good plan -- needed assets, needed development, and then all kinds of problems have occurred and we've gotten ourselves into a pretty untenable position. So I have to believe that the Army is going to come back with a suggestion for restructuring the program to take into account the obvious concerns that this committee and Congress will have in light of your report.
And that leads me to what, now that I've testified on behalf of the Army, Mr. Bartlett -- (laughter) -- that leads me to what I'm kind of interested in. And that is, how do you think the Army should restructure this at this point? And I apologize, I had to go out. I've had somebody that I've needed to meet with for some time and it conflicted with this hearing, and so I was just sitting out in the other room, but we had the television off.
Have you considered how, sort of -- what are the reasonable ways that the Army could restructure the program to sensibly move forward from where we are right now, as opposed to just abandoning the notion altogether? And I think it would be a shame if we simply abandoned the notion altogether. The MRAP's been a very nice addition, but it's a stand-alone item, and the idea of having an integrated weapons system available to a BCT, like the weapons system that contemplated by this effort, is great.
So have you thought about what you think the Army ought to be doing at this point, thinking about restructuring and moving forward so we don't lose this?
MR. FRANCIS: We've thought about it, Mr. Marshall. Now, it's not something we could, you know, subject to an audit. There's no book on this.
REP. MARSHALL: Right.
MR. FRANCIS: But my way of thinking is the Army would first go back and look at their overall requirement. Not all the details, but -- is this, do they still have a requirement for a heavy system or a medium system? To keep their eye on what they're designing, too. And then I think, in terms of near term, midterm and long term -- and in the midterm, they've got to make sure their current force is recapitalized and kept current. And I would include in that any of the spinouts from FCS that can make that current force better. So that would be one thing I would think about.
Then I'd think about the midterm. There may be some platforms from FCS that, with additional development, it might make sense to field them. So, for example, there could be something like the Bradley replacement. Maybe it would make sense for -- when that vehicle's ready, to replace it, if it's not dependent on the network for its performance, so if it has a stand-alone capability. I would think about that type of thing for midterm. Long term, I think the Army should continue to invest significantly in its technologies in the network. It shouldn't stop and come back to that later. I think it needs to keep that science and technology going there, to give itself options in the long term.
REP. MARSHALL: Gentlemen, do you agree, disagree, have something to add?
MR. GRAVELINE: I would just add, you know, the largest cost driver of the program is the manned ground vehicles, certainly getting to the production stage of them. That's where it's going to be really expensive. So that's the thing you really have to think about -- hard about what portion of those may want to go forward. I would agree with Mr. Francis on the network. There's some important things going on there and they're kind of getting to a point where they're really understanding what that network is all about, and defining what they can do. It's been a lot of discovery on that part, and I'd hate to lose that learning that they've made. There is a lot of the pieces that have been developed, including some of the sensors that were to be included in the manned ground vehicles; they may applicable elsewhere. And yeah, there's a lot of valuable pieces, and I think it ought to be carefully evaluated as to how to proceed, not just, you know, let's dump the whole thing.
MR. FERGUSON: I'd like to add, sir, to what Mr. Graveline alluded to earlier with the Army Evaluation Task Force in Fort Bliss; the tremendous potential there is for having a near-brigade-size unit there testing actual prototype systems and providing feedback in that design process, getting an honest-to-goodness perspective from soldiers who have been in Iraq and Afghanistan, providing feedback in that process I think is tremendous.
REP. MARSHALL: One more question. Part of the dilemma, and one of the reasons why the Army probably would acknowledge that this has gotten all out of whack -- the process that it had originally envisaged to develop this has, and again, having to do with this technology development. Can you imagine any circumstance in which the Army could produce evidence that's sufficient to persuade us that while we haven't had PDR CDR at this point -- well, CDR for sure -- that's okay because we can establish to your satisfaction that in fact this technology will be there, that it can simultaneously arrive and we can go ahead -- and it make sense, you know, costwise for us to just go ahead and start -- you know, go into production with regard to the hardware itself, with the idea that the technology will be there when this hardware is there, and that, net, we will save a lot of time, save a lot of lives? You know, hopefully, we're not going to really be dependent upon these systems, but if we are -- save a lot of lives, save a lot of time and also save money. Is it conceivable to you that they'd be able to make the case that, yeah, here's where the technology development is, but it will, in 2012, be mature, be there, you can count on it?
MR. GRAVELINE: I'd say, looking at the potential things that could come out of this incremental approach that they may come out with -- I mean, they could start with a very basic vehicle which doesn't have a lot of the more exotic technologies on it, and try to build that first and then as the technologies come along, keep adding to that basic vehicle as they go downstream, so that maybe the first versions may not be satisfying everybody, but they would be a starting point that you could stabilize and build on. And then longer term, you get to really want it to be. That's not lacking risk involved in there, but I think that might be something --
REP. MARSHALL: Right. And I think you might be giving good advice to the Army at this point, but I have a different question. I might not have stated it very well. If the Army simply wants, for some reason, to stay on the planned program, and it acknowledges that technology development is not yet complete and will not be mature almost until 2014, and CDR will not occur until 2011 -- nevertheless, Congress, you should permit us to go ahead and invest in system development and demonstration and actual production prior to that time because it will all come together. And if we have to use it, the effect of it all coming together will be to save an awful lot of lives, and inevitably we're going to save money by moving forward as oppose to delay, and we'll save time. Can you imagine a circumstance in which the Army would be able to prove that case, would be able to establish to our satisfaction that, in fact, technology development will wind up leading to a product in 2013, even though we don't have it right now? A product that's acceptable?
MR. FRANCIS: Go ahead, Marcus.
MR. FERGUSON: Well, to date, so much of what the Army has provided to decision makers, such as the committee, to build confidence in what FCS is doing has been based in modeling and simulation. And it's our view that modeling and simulation is good very early in a program but that modeling and simulation has to be validated through actual demonstration with production representative hardware. I think maturing technologies to a TRL 6 is a good start for the program, but the next step will be getting -- well, one, getting those technologies validated by this independent review team at the Department of Defense level, but then actually netting some capabilities together and having some realistic demonstrations with these systems will provide a lot more confidence, I think, for the committee as they deliberate the future of the program.
REP. MARSHALL: We understand that's the ideal. I'm just wondering, is there a way for the Army to make its case without -- saying, we can't do the ideal process here. No?
MR. FRANCIS: Their program of record shows they believe that now. They believe everything can go concurrently, that they don't have to build production representative prototypes. I think they would say their preliminary design review is so good, it's almost like a critical design review. So I think they believe that they can do it all, even though it's unconventional. In fact, that's some of the discussions we've had. They believe that the model that we use to look at it is too linear, and they're going to do this differently. Where we come out on that is, we have seen so many systems go through this process. FCS is not the first system that we've looked at, or even the first Army system. So we can't see how they can do it, but I guess you always have to keep open the possibility that they could -- it is possible that they could do it. But I don't see any way analytically where we can see that, or give you counsel that we think that could happen.
REP. MARSHALL: Thank you, by the way, for your expertise and commitment and the sort of help you're giving us here. This is great. So we obviously need to hear from the Army and hear the Army explain what you just explained and try and make its case. If you had to -- besides yourselves, obviously, you're experts -- (laughs) -- but if you had to -- if you were us, and you felt like you needed to pull in some experts to listen to the case or the two views, the two sides, who would you pull in to help us evaluate whether or not it's -- what the Army is suggesting is realistic?
MR. FRANCIS: Well, I could think of a couple of organizations. One would be the Institute for Defense Analyses --
REP. MARSHALL: We already have them onboard --
MR. FRANCIS: -- which has done some independent analysis. I would think also, within the Department of Defense, if you were, for example, to have the program analysis and evaluation office give you their views on things because they see all programs across the board.
Also I think, you know, the director of defense research and engineering that does independent analysis of these technology readiness levels would also be able to give you a separate and expert opinion.
REP. MARSHALL: The Army is suggesting that your approach -- and graphically it's -- you know, you've laid it out in a way that suggests that you're linear and they're sort of proceeding along simultaneous paths hoping that we'll all arrive at the same point at the right time with everything working. Obviously greater risk to the second approach than the first approach, no question about that.
If we said to the Army, give us examples where your approach to this has worked, would they be able to do that? Do you know? Not -- when I say "your," the Army's approach is what I'm referring to. It's an indefinite reference.
MR. FRANCIS: I don't know any examples that I could cite. And I would think the number of examples citing the opposite would be quite a few. Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, which the Marines are developing --
REP. MARSHALL: When you say citing the opposite, you're talking about when procurement, development lines up getting -- not going through this linear process but follows a different route to the end result. There are lots of examples where it didn't work out too well?
MR. FRANCIS: That's correct. So even on a single system, when a concurrent approach has been attempted, where you try to design before your technologies are ready, those programs have not worked out well. So for me, it's difficult to see if you scale that up exponentially to assist on the systems and make it more complex, it's harder to see how that approach somehow involves less risk.
REP. MARSHALL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Do you have something at the moment, Mr. Kissell? Okay.
A couple of things: It reminds me when you were mentioning that, because it came out of this subcommittee when Mr. Weldon was chairman, the presidential helicopter.
MR. FRANCIS: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I have a -- just to remind myself that I wasn't imagining that I saw what I saw, you know, in my mind and say, you know, I was on that years ago. Well, it turns out I was and the subcommittee was.
As a perfect example, what they did, they kept adding stuff. And we took a look at it and we said, you know -- we're just sitting here, we're -- Mr. Massa's in the dairy farm and Mr. Kissell's in the textile factory. You know, I'm sitting down on the beach at the Royal Hawaiian, you know, so -- (laughter) -- it occurred to me that, well, if you keep adding things into this helicopter, you change the weight. You change the way the thing has to be built and that has to change and the aerodynamics and so on.
I kept thinking, well, if you keep doing that, how are you going to make this work in the timeline that you set up? You're -- that's where I first got the -- it first came to my mind. Aren't you bending the laws of physics here? "Oh, no, no, no, we're on schedule; we're within budget." And look what's happened now with it. I mean, when you get it to the point where the president's supposed to be able to iron his clothes and, you know, have a spa treatment in the helicopter, it's going to change the way it works.
Now, in other words, I guess where I come down is that the one thing I think I've learned on the committee over the years is there's a book for a reason. You follow the book for a reason and that the interesting -- I suppose it's a paradox to some people -- the reason the book exists is to actually support initiative. If you do things by the book, you can actually exercise initiative, you know, go into new programs and so on. But you're going to do it in a way that substantiates itself as it goes along and that's the reason you have the book.
Now, in that context then, on March 13th, after the GAO's report was generally circulated and you had finished your discussions with the Army, right -- the report did not come out before you had gone back and forth with the Army with drafts and so on, correct?
MR. FRANCIS: Correct.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: On March 13th then, a press conference was called and then key Army officials at that time made a number of critical comments about the report and offered an Army perspective on the state of the FCS program.
I'm bringing it up now because they're not here. So all I can go is on what was already out in the public domain from the Army, aside from the statement which I entered into the record, which begins with this quotation on the acquisition processes and the differences with the GAO report. That's the way it's stated here. Quote, "In many respects, the FCS program is a model for the flexibility and rapid adjustment that the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Congress have called for in defense acquisition." That's the principal defense, the initial -- I won't even say defense -- the initial offense, the initial commentary is that the Congress has called for this kind of approach as a model.
That being the premise, the foundational premise, here's the questions I have: Army officials have professed confusion about two specific cost estimates which have been used already today, that the GAO used in its report: one on the possible cost increase of the core FCS program, $19 billion, and the other on the cost of the FCS spinout initiative $21 billion. Can you tell me then, where the cost estimates came from?
MR. FERGUSON: Mr. Chairman, I'll answer that.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay.
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, the $19 billion and the $21 billion were actually figures that were generated by the Army, specifically the Future Combat Systems program, in an attempt to provide information for the POM process for --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Explain the POM process.
MR. FERGUSON: Program objectives memorandum, which kind of lays out the, I guess, requirements in funding for the next six years for the Army. And that's where those numbers came from. And the $19 billion, $2 billion of it was for additional system development funding and $17 billion of it will be for additional procurement money.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Where did those figures come from?
MR. FERGUSON: The Army.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: So how -- why would they be expressing confusion as to why you used those in the report?
MR. FERGUSON: I'm really not sure, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. Did you use those figures in your discussions with the Army or were those figures used -- did those figures appear in the back and forth discussion that you had, either in the development of the draft or in their commentary afterwards?
MR. FERGUSON: Well, there's a comment period and the Army has an opportunity to send us technical comments on the details of the report. No comment was raised about those numbers being in the report.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. Thank you.
MR. FERGUSON: Yes, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Did you want to say something, Mr. Francis or were you just twitching at the moment? (Laughs.)
MR. FRANCIS: No, I was waiting for Marcus to get to that point. Those numbers were in the draft report. The draft report is with the Department of Defense and the Army for a month. They get a month to comment on it. So those numbers were well vetted.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. Second question: Army officials stated -- now, I'm referring to the public commentary here, so you may have read some of this commentary yourself in the general press. Hopefully we'll still have newspapers in the next few months and we'll be able to -- and we may have to look to them in order to get our information.
Army officials also stated that the GAO has mischaracterized what the Army has done in terms of testing to date and claims that the GAO discounts the value of the Army's modeling and simulation efforts. Now, I realize you've talked about these things in the course of the hearing today, but my question, then, is can you summarize your perspective on these claims, one, that you have mischaracterized what the Army has done in terms of testing to date, which I presume is the way you put these slides together; and, two, that you discount the value of their modeling and simulation efforts?
MR. GRAVELINE: I'll respond to that in a couple of different ways. First of all, our purpose was to respond to the congressional direction for the milestone review, which talked about demonstrations rather than simulations, so kind of the standard there was beyond simulations. It wasn't that we were discounting simulations at all. It was that Congress was interested in a step beyond that.
So our conclusion was although they've been doing testing, we recognized that, the Army wishes we'd recognized it more so; that's a matter of a half-empty, half-full kind of argument there. How much do we recognize it?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: So am I to understand that your answer would be that it was not that you're discounting the value of simulations, that's not what you were measuring?
MR. GRAVELINE: Correct, absolutely.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. What about the question of testing to date?
MR. GRAVELINE: Again, it was -- the Army would prefer that we, you know, go at great length to describe all the testing that they've done to date. And we don't discount that. We know of that. We'd also say that it's a matter of the challenge involved here in FCS, that it requires a lot of testing to demonstrate many of these technologies and systems and subsystems. So it wasn't that we were discounting them at all. It's a matter of how much credit do you give that, the piece testing, to the whole and how well that demonstrates the whole concept.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Maybe I can -- the reason I asked that question had to do particularly with their radio networks. And again, this statement that was submitted to us last week under a section called "Alignment and Program Status of Complementary FCS Programs, Including the Joint Tactical Radio System and the Warfighter Information Network Tactical Programs."
The Army goes -- again, you're not questioning that they were testing. The point here was, was it not, as to whether that actually is advancing towards the maturity of the technology for a useful test, whether it's critical testing time or whatever, right?
MR. GRAVELINE: Mm-hmm. (Affirmation.)
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay, because what they said here to answer it was the joint tactical radio system and the ground mobile radio and the handheld, Manpack, small form fits and the warfighter integration effort are complementary programs. Well, no argument there, right? Synchronization of these programs' technical interfaces occurs through the use of the interface requirements documents and the quarterly synchronization summits. No argument there. That's what takes place, right? This is where you talk about your reviews?
They describe system performance, technical interface expectations, programmatic gaps in schedule, cost and performance between the programs are resolved at quarterly transport layer synchronization summits. Are you familiar with that phraseology?
MR. GRAVELINE: Yes, sir.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Programmatic gaps in the schedule, cost and performance between the programs are resolved at quarterly transport layer synchronization summits. Now, I read that and I would think that what they're saying is that these programmatic gaps, these cross problems and their performance deficits have been resolved. And they did it at a summit, at which they synchronized all these things. If I'm correct at what they really mean here, it's that they talked about these things.
MR. GRAVELINE: It's been an elusive problem for the Army to solve since the start of the program. The coordination between FCS and its complementary programs -- at times there are some few dozen that are considered critical, very vital for FCS's success and then there are some other hundred or more, I think, that at least have to be well-known to each other.
The synchronization of all those efforts together has been an enormous challenge for FCS and the Army as a whole. And they've devoted a lot of attention to it and they're still finding that there are gaps. Some of the preliminary design reviews identified some more of those that they're not quite synced up as to what FCS expects from these other programs and what they are ready to deliver. And it's been quite a frustrating experience for the Army and they're not there yet. They're getting --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: They characterize -- what you apparently -- what you have said is frustration, they say, "This facilitates continuous leadership awareness of achievable capability." That's a true statement too, isn't it?
MR. GRAVELINE: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: In other words, it doesn't work and they're aware of that.
MR. GRAVELINE: This has -- the top levels of the Army have been involved in this effort for, you know, sometime. And it's still a frustrating, elusive thing to get these nailed down, that everyone's, you know, on the same plan and that they know their expectations and they're going out to meet them.
MR. FRANCIS: Mr. Chairman, I would just add these programs have been resynchronized several times, so they --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I bet.
MR. FRANCIS: -- resynchronize, they make discoveries. Technologies don't behave very well. And when you learn more, then you have to resynchronize because the plan didn't turn out.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes. You know, I'm not reading this in order to be sarcastic. I'm reading this in order to say this is how you can -- speaking of mischaracterization or something -- this is how you can delude yourself. This is sympathetic magic that's going on here. It reminds me, in Norman Mailer's "Fire the Moon" (sic/"Of a Fire on the Moon") when he did a biography, if you will, of the moon shot.
At one point he has a chapter on the psychology of machines and he maintains in a metaphorical way -- he talks about glitches, that there are things that happen and it's not supposed to happen. Everything has already been programmed. You know the physics of everything. And yet, he talks about the psychology of machines, that there's a certain dimension to all of this that simply isn't accounted for and has to be rigorously addressed in order to be dealt with.
One last question, then: One of the people making commentary was Lieutenant General Vane. He stated, "The Army has proven a variety of FCS systems on the battlefield in Afghanistan.
" Now, I don't know if you're prepared to answer that, but I was not -- I'm not quite sure what that refers to.
Given your statements on the status of the FCS program, do you have any idea exactly what's being referred to, that there's a variety of FCS systems --
MR. GRAVELINE: Yes, sir, I --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: -- that have been put into the battlefield in Afghanistan?
MR. GRAVELINE: There have been several things. Understand from the outset, though, that when FCS started in 2003, there was a great deal of it that was new development that was started, all unmanned ground vehicles; that was a fresh start. But there was also a variety of things that were already in development elsewhere --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes.
MR. GRAVELINE: -- and the Army just pulled those all together in a conglomerate program.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay. That's what I thought.
MR. GRAVELINE: And some of these things have continued to mature. And also, I might add, too, that there are some pieces of FCS that were actually a commercial product and I refer there to the small, unmanned ground vehicle. Actually, was it last year here -- but they had the little robot, the remote control thing here and the Army brought it.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes.
MR. GRAVELINE: That's, frankly, a commercial product, I believe. So early versions of these items, that robot for one, have been fielded and are used in Iraq and Afghanistan with good effect. No challenge there.
Now, the Army is continuing to develop those -- for example, that robot, making it even smaller, adding the new radial onto it, adding additional capabilities. But the basic robot is already fielded there. And likewise, there is this small, unmanned aerial vehicle that is -- it looks like a little trash can type of thing --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: I've seen these -- gone to Fort Bliss, that you mentioned, and --
MR. GRAVELINE: That was something done by -- DARPA, I believe, had worked on that program for some time. And the Marines had demonstrated -- I want to even say in Hawaii -- the 25th unit there.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: That's the Army.
MR. GRAVELINE: Pardon me?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Okay, the Army. (Laughs.)
MR. GRAVELINE: That's something that they're also using over in Afghanistan and Iraq. But the Army is continuing that within the FCS program. They're putting a new engine on it and adding additional electronics. And so its FCS element will continue and it's going to be ready in a few years. But early versions of these things are being fielded. So what --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Well, what it does show then is the efficacy of following the book on maturing technologies.
MR. GRAVELINE: Yes.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Right? In other words, if you do get started with something, well, then you can build on it and -- okay.
Mr. Bartlett, your patience -- you're fine?
REP. BARTLETT: I want to thank you for calling this hearing, and I want to thank our witnesses for their diligent work. Thank you very much.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes. The work of the GAO is a constant revelation. I want to state for the record that you gentlemen carry the tradition and legacy of the GAO, which I rank right there with the Library of Congress; as a matter of fact, the Congressional Research Service and the GAO are singular -- set singular standards for public service. And your value to -- not just to this committee but to the American people is very difficult to measure.
I don't know what kind of metrics they put on that, but professionalism, objectivity, perseverance and fidelity to the purpose of public service I think is manifested in what you've been doing, not just with this report but really in every single instance that I've dealt with the GAO. And I thank you very much.
MR. FRANCIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: This will conclude the hearing. Thank you. (Sounds gavel.)