Boeing (NYSE: BA) and partner Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), functioning as the Lead Systems Integrator (LSI) for the U.S. Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, today announced the establishment of a new FCS regional office in El Paso, Texas. Slated to open in February 2006, the office will be an integral part of the Army's Evaluation Brigade Combat Team, which will be co-led by the Army's Training and Doctrine Command and FCS Program Management Office, and will transition to neighboring Fort Bliss, Texas, beginning in 2007.
"Fort Bliss is a site bearing historical significance as an Army test range and an ideal location for FCS program test activities," said MG Charles Cartwright, program manager, FCS Brigade Combat Team. "The function that the evaluation unit performs will be a crucial one for the FCS program as well as for the soldiers who will reap the benefits that FCS will provide -- both now and in the future."
"The decision to co-locate a program office with the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team is a 'win-win' for the Army, for the FCS program and for the El Paso community as we expand the facility's capabilities and begin evaluating, testing and integrating the first infusion of FCS technologies as they come online," said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing vice president-general manager, and FCS program manager. "The LSI is dedicated to providing the EBCT soldiers with the support they will need to carry out their jobs effectively."
The mission of the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team, comprised of 800 soldiers initially but expected to grow to more than 3,000 soldiers by 2014, will be to evaluate all FCS systems as they mature in preparation for deployment. They will also evaluate those technologies slated for early spin out into the current force beginning in 2008. These technologies include initial network capabilities, Unattended Ground Sensors, the Non-Line of Sight -- Launch System, and the Intelligent Munitions System. These are all intended to fill existing capability gaps and enhance the effectiveness and survivability of current troops. Data compiled by the evaluation unit will then flow back into the broader FCS program and significantly reduce program risk while providing valuable user feedback to help ensure long-term program success.
"The Evaluation Brigade Combat Team, the Army and the LSI, will build on the lessons learned from 1990's Army experimentation units, the Central Technical Support Facility at Ft. Hood, Texas, and operational lessons learned from current operations," said Dan Zanini, SAIC senior vice president and FCS deputy program manager. "Soldiers from the unit will provide real-time feedback to the developers on what works and what requires refinement."
In conjunction with Evaluation Brigade Combat Team stand-up activities which will be implemented over the course of several years, the LSI will continue its relationship with the Army through the establishment of a local presence in the El Paso area, consisting of a regional office located at an existing Boeing facility and the co-location of LSI civilians with Army program personnel on base at Fort Bliss.
"This presence will ensure a seamless transition for the evaluation unit and will be crucial to successful implementation of early technology Spin Outs to the current force. The Army's FCS Evaluation Brigade Combat Team will help to minimize program cost and risk, while helping to maximize technological feasibility and soldier utility," Muilenburg said.
"FCS is about empowering frontline soldiers with actionable information that will minimize their risk while enhancing their operational effectiveness," Zanini added. "So it makes sense that we involve the ultimate FCS users -- frontline soldiers -- in FCS development."
Beginning in early 2006, the off-post facility will be staffed by a core team of LSI program and technical experts, who will support program management and integration, production and assembly, networking and a range of other activities. By 2007-08, staffing levels are expected to increase to several hundred people. While early effort will concentrate on planning and coordination functions, it is envisioned that the facility's capability will include integration and assembly, as well as becoming a critical node for a virtual integrated network of government and One Team partner laboratories supporting the FCS program.
The LSI, FCS Program Management Office and Army Training and Doctrine Command will also have a significant presence at Fort Bliss. By 2007, the LSI anticipates having more than 35 personnel resident with the Evaluation Brigade Combat Team, assisting the Army with fielding support, force development planning, test support and soldier training -- with additional "surge" capability occurring as needed to support test requirements.