- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 18, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

While most agree that defense acquisition reform is long overdue, I was surprised that Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III characterized the Future Combat Systems’ manned ground vehicles as “lightly armored” (“Real acquisition reform,” Opinion, June 4).

As most veterans and soldiers following FCS know, the Army has already tested the advanced composite armor designed for FCS vehicles. It provides the same level of protection as Cold War-era vehicles like the Abrams and Bradley, but with a fraction of the weight. There certainly is nothing “light” about the ability to stop an anti-tank round and, unlike the Abrams, the bolt-on nature of FCS armor means that it can be upgraded as improvements are made.

The Army has already delayed the FCS vehicles by drawing out the development process to reduce risk. But it’s disappointing that this superior armor is going to be delayed even further by the Department of Defense’s decision to cancel the vehicles, particularly when our nation is at war. The Army can always redesign the armored vehicles, but they seemready for the battlefield now, given that they incorporated V-shaped hull kits and design modifications to reduce the impact of the roadside bombs so prevalent in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Pentagon should be trying to hasten Army modernization, not delay it. Our soldiers desperately need better-armored vehicles - now.

CAPT. BRIAN HENNAMAN

Army (retired)

Richmond

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