USA — Army crafts tailorable tactical wheeled vehicle acquisition strategy

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has released its tac­ti­cal wheeled vehi­cle acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy report to Con­gress, call­ing for a tai­lorable approach to vehi­cle pro­cure­ment to include new buys and repair, sus­tain­ment and recap­i­tal­iza­tion of the exist­ing fleet.

 U.S. Army Special Operations Soldiers, assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan, arrive in a Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle at a staging area on an undisclosed forward operating base in Helmand Province as two CH-47 Chinook helicopters fly overhead.
U.S. Army Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Sol­diers, assigned to the Com­bined Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Task Force – Afghanistan, arrive in a Fam­i­ly of Medi­um Tac­ti­cal Vehi­cle at a stag­ing area on an undis­closed for­ward oper­at­ing base in Hel­mand Province as two CH-47 Chi­nook heli­copters fly over­head.
Pho­to cred­it Spc. Daniel Love
Click to enlarge

The acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy lays out a roadmap for tac­ti­cal wheeled vehi­cles, includ­ing the Mine Resis­tant Ambush Pro­tect­ed, or MRAP, vehi­cles from 2010 through 2025. 

“The acqui­si­tion objec­tive is to have the abil­i­ty to adapt to change and mit­i­gate the risk of uncer­tain­ty caused by an evolv­ing threat,” said Tim God­dette, direc­tor, Com­bat Sus­tain­ment Systems. 

“The chal­lenge is find­ing the bal­ance between an uncon­strained require­ments process and a con­strained resource process that pro­motes sta­bil­i­ty and efficiencies.” 

Over­all, the report takes up plans for the 260,000 TWVs in the Army inven­to­ry, rep­re­sent­ing an ini­tial pro­cure­ment invest­ment of $50 billion. 

The acqui­si­tion strat­e­gy is nest­ed in the phi­los­o­phy that com­bat and threat cir­cum­stances are sub­ject to change, thus result­ing in a com­men­su­rate need to shift pro­cure­ment strat­e­gy in response to pre­vail­ing com­bat and bud­getary circumstances. 

“Find­ing the right bal­ance and mix of TWVs requires the Army to con­tin­u­al­ly assess and adjust invest­ments,” the report states. “Man­ag­ing this fleet effec­tive­ly goes beyond sim­ply buy­ing new vehi­cles as the exist­ing vehi­cles age beyond their use­ful life. We will use a com­bi­na­tion of new pro­cure­ment, repair (sus­tain­ment), recap­i­tal­iza­tion (recap), and dives­ture to achieve our strate­gic objec­tive by address­ing the readi­ness and mis­sion issues of the fleet.” 

For instance, the report calls for sus­tain­ment and recap­i­tal­iza­tion of 50,000 up-armored Humvees and the pro­gres­sive divesti­ture of up to 50,000 aging Humvees — to be incre­men­tal­ly replaced by the new Joint Light Tac­ti­cal Vehi­cle, or JLTV

For the Fam­i­ly of Medi­um Tac­ti­cal Vehi­cles or FMTVs — the Army will con­tin­ue to buy new ones, 44,000 will be sus­tained through reset, and up to 28,000 aging trucks will be retired or divest­ed, accord­ing to the report. In addi­tion, the Army’s truck dives­ture plan calls for com­plete dives­ture of all M35 2.5‑ton vehi­cles by the end of FY11

The report also places a pre­mi­um on fos­ter­ing com­pe­ti­tion with­in indus­try so as to increase pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and reduce costs; it is impor­tant to have con­tract mech­a­nisms in place such that pro­duc­tion can surge should that be need­ed, the report says. 

“Com­pe­ti­tion improves qual­i­ty and reduces costs, while pro­vid­ing the Army access to a full range of indus­try (depot, pri­vate, or pub­lic pri­vate team­ing) capa­bil­i­ties, process­es and poten­tial tech­ni­cal advances,” the report says. 

Armor Pro­tec­tion

Also, the report points out how post‑9/11 con­flicts have changed the mis­sion scope and threat lev­els encoun­tered by tac­ti­cal trucks in today’s cur­rent wars and this phe­nom­e­non has had a dis­tinct impact on the pro­cure­ment of tac­ti­cal trucks as it has evolved to meet cur­rent and evolv­ing threats. 

Pri­or to the events lead­ing up to Sept. 11, 2001, the main focus of effort on the TWV fleet con­sist­ed pri­mar­i­ly on vehi­cle per­for­mance and pay­load, accord­ing to the report. 

“The gen­er­al assump­tion was that the bat­tle­field was lin­ear such that com­bat vehi­cles posi­tioned for­ward in for­ma­tions required pro­tec­tion from ene­my fire, but tac­ti­cal vehi­cles pro­vid­ing sup­port­ing func­tions did not,” the report states. 

“The result was a fleet designed with­out the bur­den of armor pro­tec­tion and the cor­re­spond­ing auto­mo­tive impacts that poten­tial add-on armor would have on crit­i­cal truck sub-com­po­nents like the engine, sus­pen­sion, trans­mis­sion, and axles.” 

The report goes on to point out that the events fol­low­ing 9/11 and the begin­ning of the Glob­al War on Ter­ror­ism had a sig­nif­i­cant impact on the TWV fleet, in par­tic­u­lar the need for armored trucks. Assump­tions about the lin­ear bat­tle­fields of the Cold War gave way to the com­plex, urban ter­rain and sup­port­ing the for­ward oper­at­ing bases of Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom and Oper­a­tion Endur­ing Free­dom, accord­ing to the report. 

“With­out a front line, all vehi­cles proved to be tar­gets of ene­my fire, par­tic­u­lar­ly emer­gent threats of impro­vised explo­sive devices that would dri­ve the need for greater and greater pro­tec­tion lev­els across the truck fleet,” the report states. 

These dynam­ics have lead to the cre­ation of a Long Term Armor Strat­e­gy, or LTAS which, accord­ing to the report, seeks to build tac­ti­cal trucks with an A‑kit, B‑kit mod­u­lar armor approach — allow­ing trucks to adjust their pro­tec­tion to the poten­tial threats they will face in combat. 

“The A‑kit is designed to accept addi­tion­al armor in the form of a B‑kit. The A‑kit/B‑kit con­cept allows the Army flex­i­bil­i­ty in sev­er­al areas: the armor B‑kit can be tak­en off when not need­ed — reduc­ing unnec­es­sary wear and tear on the vehi­cles; the Army can con­tin­ue to pur­sue upgrades in armor pro­tec­tion — adapt­ing B‑kits to match the threat; and the ver­sa­til­i­ty of the B‑kit enables the trans­fer of armor from unit to unit — makes armor require­ments afford­able by pool­ing assets ver­sus buy­ing armor that is only for one vehi­cle,” the report states. 

When it comes to buy­ing armor, the strat­e­gy seeks to make room for the acqui­si­tion com­mu­ni­ty to accom­mo­date the pace of tech­no­log­i­cal change and buy new­er mate­ri­als as they emerge. 

“With armor, since it is ever-chang­ing, our indus­try part­ners are con­stant­ly find­ing new ways to improve its effec­tive­ness. You want to buy a cer­tain amount and then to make sure you have the best going to the field and a source you can surge into pro­duc­tion as need­ed,” said Col. Mark Bar­bosa, divi­sion chief for Focused Logis­tics, Army G8. “We are inte­grat­ing the ele­ments TRADOC and G3 worked very hard on in the long term pro­tec­tion strat­e­gy in the Tac­ti­cal Vehi­cle Strat­e­gy which cov­ers all the fleets.” 

“Every­body wants to get the prod­uct right so that when you go to war you meet expec­ta­tions and there are no short­com­ings,” said God­dette. “You don’t’ always know what kind of war you might be called upon to fight, so we must be flex­i­ble. How do we apply the art of acqui­si­tion to meet the uncer­tain­ty of the world we live in?” 

(Kris Osborn writes for the Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of the Army (Acqui­si­tion, Logis­tics and Technology.)) 

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