USA — Soldiers return from Fort Bliss assessment

FORT BENNING, Ga. — Sol­diers who took part in the Maneu­ver Bat­tle Lab’s Ground Com­bat Vehi­cle assess­ment last month at Fort Bliss, Texas, praised the var­i­ous capa­bil­i­ties and fea­tures on the five vehi­cles used in the week-long eval­u­a­tion.

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Sol­diers maneu­ver around an Israeli Namer dur­ing the Maneu­ver Bat­tle Lab’s Ground Com­bat Vehi­cle assess­ment last month at Fort Bliss, Texas. Army lead­ers used the ses­sion to learn about even­tu­al require­ments for a new Infantry fight­ing vehi­cle.
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About 45 Sol­diers from Fort Benning’s exper­i­men­ta­tion force, con­duct­ed pla­toon-lev­el oper­a­tions on five dif­fer­ent plat­forms at Fort Bliss, Texas: M2A3 Bradley Fight­ing Vehi­cle, Tur­ret-less Bradley, Dou­ble V-Hull Stryk­er, Swedish CV9035 vehi­cle and the Israeli Namer. Each vehi­cle was eval­u­at­ed for dura­bil­i­ty, capac­i­ty, mod­u­lar­i­ty, lethal­i­ty, inte­ri­or space and oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty.
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About 75 per­son­nel from Fort Ben­ning had roles in Phase 2 of the non­de­vel­op­men­tal assess­ment, which was aimed at inform­ing Army lead­ers about even­tu­al require­ments for a new Infantry fight­ing vehi­cle. It includ­ed about 45 Sol­diers from A Com­pa­ny, 1st Bat­tal­ion, 29th Infantry Reg­i­ment, 197th Infantry Brigade, the post’s exper­i­men­ta­tion force, known as the EXFOR.

Har­ry Lubin, the Maneu­ver Bat­tle Lab’s Live Exper­i­men­ta­tion Branch chief, said the Army is assess­ing the best attrib­ut­es on each vehi­cle as part of an effort to con­sol­i­date them into a design that could replace the Bradley Fight­ing Vehi­cle in the future.

“The Maneu­ver Cen­ter of Excel­lence gave a very good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of itself among the senior ana­lyt­i­cal agen­cies in the Army,” he said.

“The feed­back they were get­ting from the EXFOR was excep­tion­al. These Sol­diers are used to exper­i­men­ta­tion. They under­stand what we’re look­ing for, and they tai­lor their feed­back specif­i­cal­ly for that.”

In tem­per­a­tures that reached triple dig­its in the day­time, the EXFOR con­duct­ed pla­toon-lev­el oper­a­tions on five dif­fer­ent plat­forms at Fort Bliss: M2A3 Bradley Fight­ing Vehi­cle, Tur­ret-less Bradley, Dou­ble V-Hull Stryk­er, Swedish CV9035 vehi­cle and the Israeli Namer. Each vehi­cle was eval­u­at­ed for dura­bil­i­ty, capac­i­ty, mod­u­lar­i­ty, lethal­i­ty, inte­ri­or space and oper­a­tional capa­bil­i­ty.

The Fort Ben­ning Sol­diers ran six mis­sions a day — three dur­ing the day and three at night — across open desert and urban ter­rain.

“It’s pret­ty tough to have to tran­si­tion to a dif­fer­ent vehi­cle each day on a tac­ti­cal lane,” said Staff Sgt. Marc Manil­la, a vehi­cle com­man­der with the EXFOR. “Our guys did a tremen­dous job and made it look easy.”

Maneu­ver Bat­tle Lab offi­cials said a key objec­tive in the Army’s cam­paign is to pro­duce a vehi­cle that can car­ry nine ful­ly equipped Infantry­men and three crew mem­bers. The M2A3 Bradley Fight­ing Vehi­cle cur­rent­ly in use holds a max­i­mum of sev­en Infantry Sol­diers.

“Maneu­ver­abil­i­ty was my focus,” said Spc. Michael Platzer, a dri­ver. “The CV9035 was the most respon­sive, but the two Bradleys were a close sec­ond. I found that the vehi­cles with a three-man crew allowed us to maneu­ver and fight bet­ter, and they were still capa­ble of car­ry­ing a whole squad.”

Sgt. Nehemi­ah Robert­son, a gun­ner, said he iden­ti­fied a tar­get at 1,500 meters in the Swedish CV9035 vehi­cle but also liked the Bradley’s sights capa­bil­i­ty. Both deliv­ered great fire­pow­er.

We liked the big­ger-gun capa­bil­i­ties,” Manil­la said. “Any vehi­cle with­out a large can­non to destroy armored vehi­cles gave us some chal­lenges because it forced the Sol­diers to dis­mount.”

Each vehi­cle pro­vid­ed dif­fer­ent lev­els of sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness, said Maj. Jer­el Evans, the EXFOR com­man­der. The Israeli Namer, for exam­ple, had sev­en cam­eras — they can show the posi­tions of dis­mount­ed squad mem­bers and where the gun­ner is fir­ing.

“All those vehi­cles and emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies allow Sol­diers to have that sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness before they hit the ground,” he said. “Sur­viv­abil­i­ty is a big fea­ture the Army is going after in a new ground com­bat vehi­cle. It has to be able to maneu­ver in urban envi­ron­ments and off-road ter­rain. The IED (impro­vised explo­sive device) threat has changed the way we fight. It’s put more empha­sis on sur­viv­abil­i­ty.”

Evans said he likes the direc­tion tak­en by the Army in seek­ing a vehi­cle that’s as ver­sa­tile, lethal and adap­tive as the indi­vid­ual warfight­er.

“We need a vehi­cle that deals with the capa­bil­i­ty gaps we’ve had in oth­er vehi­cles,” he said. “This comes from lessons learned since we’ve been fight­ing in 10-plus years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I love this new con­cept.”

The Ground Com­bat Vehi­cle assessment’s first stage unfold­ed in Israel this past win­ter, when the exper­i­men­ta­tion force took part in a month-long eval­u­a­tion of the Israeli Namer. In March, the Sol­diers were in Den­mark work­ing with the Swedish CV9035 vehi­cle.

“As these assess­ments go, it went suc­cess­ful­ly well at Fort Bliss,” Lubin said. “We built the sce­nar­ios and com­mand-and-con­trolled the exer­cise to get at those data points we need­ed to get at. Our goal, for the whole process, was to pro­vide feed­back to the Mount­ed Require­ments Divi­sion so we can make an informed deci­sion down the road. It’s crit­i­cal they get the require­ments right so indus­try knows what to build to.”

Source:
U.S. Army