Yesterday, an Army General penned an op-ed about why the Army needs a new combat vehicle. Most Americans would be shocked to learn that many soldiers serving in the U.S. Army today are riding around in vehicles built in the 1980s based on technology from the 1970s.
While the rest of us are used to a fast-paced, information-accessible real-time culture of i-Phones, Blue Ray, portable video games, tablets to read books, and GPS in our cars, Army soldiers are stuck in the era of Atari.
“The State of the U.S. Military,” a chart book released yesterday by the Heritage Foundation, draws attention to an issue that should be of immediate concern to Washington even though the military warranted only a paragraph of time and attention in the President’s state of the union address last night.
The old age and debilitated condition of many of the Army’s ground combat vehicles and helicopters is simply unacceptable when the nation is asking its soldiers and their families to wage two wars overseas…the longest war in the history of America’s all-volunteer force.
For example, M113 personnel carrier vehicles and UH-1 Huey helicopters were introduced in the 1960s, and the Army’s Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles are largely based on technology from the 1980s. The advanced age of these Army platforms, which is compounded by wartime wear and tear, is exposing soldiers to unacceptable levels of risk in combat.
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Vane explains why the Army needs a new ground combat vehicle now. The maintenance costs for old vehicles are becoming unsustainable and these vehicles have little potential for technological improvement. These older systems simply fail to meet the long-term demands of land warfare and new, next-generation vehicles and networks must be purchased. The same problems apply equally to aging helicopters.
In short, the Army is running out of effective band-aids. America’s “soldiers need a vehicle that can meet the demands of modern war.” Currently, “no vehicle in today’s inventory offers the needed combination of capabilities: an MRAP’s soldier protection from improvised explosive device blasts, the Bradley’s tactical mobility, and the Stryker’s operational mobility” says the Army.
Last night, the President stated that our men and women in uniform must have the resources they need in war. To truly make good on these commitments, the Obama Administration’s defense budget must prioritize overdue military modernization.