WASHINGTON — The head of the Army Capabilities Integration Center said today the service will unveil its combat vehicle modernization strategy at the Association of the United States Army's annual convention in Washington, D.C., next month.

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, the champion of the Army's operating concept "Win in a Complex World" revealed at AUSA's main event last year, said the new vehicle strategy has taken shape through the lens of the concept and will take into account a new balance of mobility, protection and lethality in combat vehicle missions.

McMaster has said in the past that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused the Army to rightfully focus on vehicle protection at the expense of mobility and lethality, but now it's time to focus on all three, although he's acknowledged there will need to be tradeoffs.

The Army vice chief of staff has already signed off on the strategy, McMaster said at an AUSA breakfast today on Sept. 10 in Arlington, Va.

McMaster said one of the Army's current priorities for infantry brigade combat teams is to give them a high degree of mobility; capability that allows them to respond quickly, with low logistics demand and also the ability to operate in restricted and urban terrain.

The three-star said the Army will purchase "in the next year or so" three battalions worth of ground mobility vehicles. The service is "looking across industry for off-the-shelf capabilities that exist now" and will evaluate those for early entry forces in anti-access, aerial denial environments. These forces need to be able to move in, dismount, fire, maneuver against the enemy and control terrain, he said.

The Army also needs a light reconnaissance vehicle to equip the light cavalry squadrons so they can conduct offensive security operations "so finally when you are in close contact with the enemy in restricted urban terrain you better have mobile protected firepower," McMaster said.

The service will likely conduct an analysis of alternatives on a non-developmental vehicle to take a look at what is out there on the shelf, he added. "We have to move a lot faster than we have in the past, it can't be another 12 years before we do it," therefore, McMaster noted, "we are not going to ask for technology that doesn't already have a level of maturity that can be incorporated into that vehicle quickly."

For Stryker brigade combat teams, McMaster said the Army needs to provide additional lethality to vehicles. "We have a Stryker mounted with a World War II weapon," he said. This means the Army would want half of its Stryker armored personnel carriers to have a 30mm cannon and a machine gun and the other half to be equipped with Javelin anti-tank missiles and a machine gun.

The Army is also accelerating the procurement of an Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle to replace obsolete vehicles for armored brigade combat teams.

And "what we really need to do is try to hopefully get some additional funding so we can develop the Future Fighting Vehicle" to replace M2 Bradleys before they become "really obsolete," McMaster said. The Army canceled its 60- to 70-ton Ground Combat Vehicle — designed to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle — last year and has since launched the FFV program in its place.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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