Future Combat Systems

Defense Industry Daily’s got a short piece addressing the Army’s recently released 2008 Modernization Strategy. It’s worth a glance in light of the recent back and forth between the McCain and Obama campaigns over “Future Combat Systems” vs. “future combat systems.” Both candidates seem to be cautious regarding the former, but contrary to McCain’s claims, Obama is not necessarily opposed to the latter. In fact, neither candidate has offered much substance on the matter.

Army doctrine has undergone a COIN revolution, but procurement still seems to be based on its pre-COIN foundations. that’s to be expected given all of the “status quo” mechanisms built into the defense procurement process. McCain’s got a long record as a procurement watchdog, but the next president will have to do more than trim fat from military contracts. Force protection is an essential part of the COIN operations the U.S. military is increasingly identifying as its mission focus, because they are boot-heavy and high contact, and the American public is averse to high casualties in the conduct of a limited war. But the kinds of high tech solutions being offered (such as FCS) are costly to develop and maintain. That’s probably too deep in the weeds to expect much from the presidential campaign, but it’s something to consider.

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