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GAO: DoD Should Oversee Army Network

by Matt Cox on January 24, 2013

The Government Accountability Office wants the Pentagon to tighten its oversight of the Army’s high-tech network effort.

Developing and fielding an advanced tactical network designed to give soldiers and combat units a better understanding of the battlefield has become the service’s highest procurement priority.

Early versions of this situational-awareness technology have proven highly successful in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the GAO maintains that the complex, multi-phased effort could be in for a risky future. In a Jan. 10 report, GAO officials maintain that the Army plans to spend $60 billion on the network over the next two decades without sufficient data that the program will succeed.

“The Army’s strategy addresses some aspects of cost, technology maturity, security, and readiness, but as implementation is still under way, data for assessing progress are not available at this time. … Given the magnitude and financial commitment envisioned, a consolidated reporting and budgeting framework could yield more consistency and clarity in the justifications for Army network initiatives and facilitate congressional oversight,” the report states.

The network effort grew out of the Army’s failed Future Combat Systems program – a transformational effort designed to create a lighter, more agile and capable force. FCS was a large and complex development effort to provide a networked family of weapons and other systems for the future force. The Pentagon killed the program’s fleet of 27-ton Manned Ground Vehicles, criticizing the design as ill-suited to survive current battlefield threats.

To help ensure a different fate for the network, the GAO recommends that “the Secretary of Defense should identify an oversight body to determine how capability set 13 — as fielded in operational units — has actually impacted overall network performance, capability gaps, and essential network capabilities and make recommendations for adjustments, as may be necessary,” the report states.

The GAO also recommends that DoD “identify an oversight body to determine how well the Army is rapidly fielding mature and militarily useful network capabilities to its operating forces and maintaining robust industry participation in the process.”

GAO also recommends that the Pentagon consolidate Army tactical network budget elements and justifications into a single area of the Army budget submittal.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

octopusmagnificens January 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm

What vehicles are those next to the Humvees?

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tmb2 January 24, 2013 at 8:14 pm

M-ATVs. They are the general purpose ground vehicle for Afghanistan. Seats four soldiers plus a gunner. It basically took the place of the humvee as a combat vehicle.

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Matt January 24, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Honestly, I never realized just how much bigger/taller M-ATVs were than regular HMMWVs…

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octopusmagnificens January 25, 2013 at 6:23 am

Its size surprised me too.

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redordead January 25, 2013 at 3:20 am

the GAO, independent and professional as always.

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smartmil8 April 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm

not so bad…

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tmb2 January 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm

They're used by all four services in Afghanistan.

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