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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) and Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT) Programs: Background and Issues for Congress

Andrew Feickert
Specialist in Military Ground Forces

In April 2009, Secretary of Defense Gates announced that he intended to significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program. The FCS was a multiyear, multibillion dollar program that had been underway since 2000 and was at the heart of the Army’s transformation efforts. In lieu of the cancelled FCS Manned Ground Vehicle (MGV), the Army was directed to develop a Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) that would be relevant across the entire spectrum of Army operations and would incorporate combat lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan. As part of the FCS program, the Army had been “spinning out” selected FCS technologies to brigade combat teams (BCTs) that were deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary Gates’s April 2009 restructuring decision included provisions to continue these efforts, and the Army decided that initially these technologies would be provided to Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs); the Army designated this effort as the Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team (E-IBCT) program.

The Army reissued a request for proposal (RFP) for the GCV on November 30, 2010, and plans to begin fielding the GCV by 2015-2017. The first E-IBCT capabilities package (Increment One), consisting of an unmanned aerial and ground vehicle, unattended sensors, and a network integration kit, was tested in September 2009 and demonstrated poor performance and reliability. Because of the test results, Increment One was judged not ready to field and the Army was required to repeat the limited users test in September 2010.

The Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) FY2011 Budget Request for the GCV was $934.3 million for Research, Technology Development and Evaluation (RDT&E) and $682.7 million for procurement. The E-IBCT’s FY2011 budget request was for $1.6 billion for RDT&E. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) and Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) initially recommended fully funding the GCV budget request, but the HASC expressed concerns that the original GCV requirements were too ambitious and urged the Army to take a more incremental approach, noting that the Army needed to conduct a more thorough analysis of alternatives prior to proceeding to the technology development phase. The Senate Committee on Appropriations Defense Subcommittee recommended providing only $462.1 million, reflecting the likely sixmonth contract award delay due to the reissue of the RFP. The HASC, concerned about past performance issues with the E-IBCT, recommended cutting $152.7 million in RDT&E and $626.7 million in procurement funding from the FY2011 E-IBCT Increment One budget request. The SASC recommended $302.4 million for E-IBCT procurement funding, and the Senate Committee on Appropriations Defense Subcommittee recommended a $2 million reduction for the Class I unmanned aerial vehicle and a $12 million reduction for E-IBCT training/logistics/management. Because the Senate did not consider H.R. 5136, the FY2011 National Defense Authorization Act, under normal legislative process, H.R. 6523 was agreed to by the House and Senate in lieu of H.R. 5136 and contains revised authorization language for both the GCV and E-IBCT program. H.R. 6523 became P.L. 111-383 on January 7, 2011.

There are two major force structure-related decisions that could affect these programs. The first is that the Army is considering returning to a division-based structure and adding a third maneuver battalion to heavy brigade combat teams (HBCTs) and IBCTs. Another issue is the impact of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’s January 6, 2011, decision to recommend cutting 27,000 active duty soldiers from the Army force structure, possibly resulting in fewer BCTs. Additionally, if the GCV and E-IBCT programs prove to be technologically infeasible or too costly, there are alternatives to both programs, primarily through improving current systems.

Date of Report: January 18, 2011
Number of Pages: 24
Order Number: R41597
Price: $29.95

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