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The Army's $200 Billion Makeover
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Washington Post

Washington Post, December 7, 2007
Posted: February 10th, 2008

In the [U.S.] Army's vision, the war of the future is increasingly combat by mouse clicks. It's as networked as the Internet, as mobile as a cellphone, as intuitive as a video game. The Army has a name for this vision: Future Combat Systems, or FCS. The project involves creating a family of 14 weapons, drones, robots, sensors and hybrid-electric combat vehicles connected by a wireless network. It has turned into the most ambitious modernization of the Army since World War II and the most expensive Army weapons program ever, military officials say. It's also one of the most controversial. Even as some early versions of these weapons make their way onto the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, members of Congress, government investigators and military observers question whether the Defense Department has set the stage for one of its biggest and costliest failures. At risk, they say, are billions of taxpayer dollars spent on exotic technology that may never come to fruition. Future Combat Systems "has some serious problems," said Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), chairman of the House air and land forces subcommittee. "Since its inception, costs have gone up dramatically while promised capability has steadily diminished." Today, the Army program involves more than 550 contractors and subcontractors in 41 states and 220 congressional districts. "When a program gets to a certain size, in the billions, it employs so many people in so many districts you can't kill it. It's kind of like the Titanic. How do you move it five degrees?" said a congressional staffer and former Army officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing review of the program. The GAO said the cost has increased 79 percent, to $163.7 billion, from $91.4 billion, its original estimate in 2003.

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