The Army announced today, June 26, that it is accelerating the delivery of key cutting-edge Future Combat Systems (FCS) capabilities to Soldiers in the Army's infantry brigade combat teams, known as IBCTs.

In the last five years of combat operations, IBCTs have been in the highest demand during combat operations. As a result of capability gaps found in the IBCTs, the Army is adjusting the FCS and complementary programs to provide necessary capabilities to infantry units first. These capabilities will increase effectiveness and survivability of IBCTs during offense, defense and stability operations.

"We're listening to our soldiers and commanders in the field, and we are giving them the capabilities they need - as fast as we can so that they can win in the current fight," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey, Jr. "We're able to do this because of the developmental efforts that have matured technology over the last few years."

The FCS technologies to be used by the infantry, termed Spin Outs, include Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, the Non Line of Sight-Launch System and network kits for the HMMWV platform. Additionally, the Class I Block 0 Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) and the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV) are also included for fielding to infantry brigade combat teams.

Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been using an early test version of the SUGV for years. Soldiers use the SUGV and other robots to clear caves and bunkers, search buildings, cross minefields, and defuse Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Buoyed by that success, the Army now is sending an early version of the Class I UAV, the Micro Air Vehicle, to infantry units in Iraq. This is in response to a joint operational needs statement from the combat zone calling for an increase in lower level unit intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets.

In his testimony to Congress last April, the commanding general of Multi-National Force-Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, singled out ISR as "vital to the success of our operations in Iraq and elsewhere." Future Combat Systems components address the bulk of the capabilities requested by combat commanders in Iraq.

Success achieved during equipment tests and evaluations by heavy brigade combat team Soldiers of the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF) at Ft. Bliss, Texas, provided confidence and information to support the decision to move FCS Spin Out capabilities to the infantry brigades.

During 2007 and 2008, operational needs statements from IBCT commanders were almost double the number than from heavy brigades. Infantry formations have capability gaps this Spin Out addresses. The first step to giving FCS capabilities to the total force, Active and Reserves, is providing accelerated capabilities through Spin Outs to our infantry brigades and bringing the Soldier into the network.

In conjunction with changing the development and fielding strategy to focus on infantry first, the Army will submit a reprogramming request to align funding with this decision. This request comes from the Army's ongoing review of the entire FCS program, and reflects the decision to move more aggressively to support current operations with FCS capabilities.

Starting in July 2008, the FCS equipment will undergo a Preliminary - Limited User Test (P-LUT) focused on the Infantry Brigade at Fort Bliss, Texas. The P-LUT is intended to refocus the previously scheduled Heavy BCT Limited User Test. The results from this testing effort will support doctrine, organization, training and material development efforts. The formal LUT scheduled in FY09 will become the basis of the Spin Out 1 acquisition decision.

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For more information please contact Lt. Col. Martin Downie, martin.downie@us.army.mil or (703) 697-7591.

Page last updated Thu June 26th, 2008 at 15:32