Will Army Digitization Work? - Mud Soldiers Sound Off

July 2, 2001

Comment: #416

Discussion Thread - Comment #s - 81, 91, 93, 106, 107, 109, 111, 112, 113, 132, 136, 140, 302, 344, 346, 347, 348


[1] Brig Gen Honore's (US Army) remarks to the Program Managers Conference held in Huntsville. [Comment #81, "What Revolution in Military Affairs?" May 6, 1998] (Attached)

Notwithstanding the end of the Cold War, the U.S. Army seems to be hell bent on spending giga bucks to automate the very battlefield it envisaged for the North German Plain in a tank-heavy, fast moving war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Proponents of the digitized battlefield argue that advanced sensors and computers will enable commanders to see a battlefield clearly and thereby greatly diminish or even eliminate the oldest bugaboo in war - namely, the fog of war or a major part or what Clausewitz called "friction" - i.e., the paralyzing effect of bad information produced fear, uncertainty, and unexpected change.

But to lift the fog of war by implementing the high tech digitization plan, the Army must not only increase the complexity of its hardware, it must also increase the complexity of its warfighting procedures as well as its supporting organizational structure. In short, according to the theory of digitization, the army must become more complex as a whole to become more effective on the battlefield.

What does such a conclusion imply? Let's go back to first principles.

"Complexity" is word that describes the relationship of the observing mind to the object of observation. It can be defined as a quality of the "whole" that relates the number, the variety, and the arrangement of the "parts" to one's ability to comprehend the "whole."

It follows logically from this definition ... that increasing complexity - i.e., running up the number, increasing the variety, and weaving in additional arrangements among the "parts" -- decreases one's ability (or makes it more difficult) to comprehend the "whole."

So, we are left with a strange result: The Army wants to increase its internal complexity via digitization, which, by definition, will make it more difficult to comprehend itself, in order to be more effective on a battlefield defined originally by a bygone era.

And we are left with a natural question: If it becomes more difficult for the Army to understand its own interior workings, will be possible to organize those interior arrangements to work more efficiently, more quickly, and more effectively it a struggle against exterior threats on a fast changing battlefield?

I asked this question to an old and valued friend, a true mud soldier with three combat tours in Vietnam, and extensive experience in armor to boot. Fortuitously, he has just returned from an Armor Conference, where he had discussed some of these digitization issues with a Master Gunner and a Private First Class - the very people who will have to cope with the increased complexity at the grass roots level.

Attached is his memorandum responding to my question:

Memo from LTC XXX

Digitization: Improved Capability or a Serious Problem?

Memorandum to Chuck Spinney
From Lt Col. XXX (US Army Retired)
Subject: Digitization: Improved Combat Capability or a Serious Problem?

I talked to a Bradley Master Gunner while attending the recent Armor Conference. He was assigned to one of the divisions involved with digitization. His unit is equipped with the M2A3 (digitized) Bradley. Among its other improvements is the new Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) information system, which is installed at the vehicle commander's station.

Mater Gunner X told me that that the digitization system in their Bradleys precluded the use the standard training instrumentation system (i.e., MILES), because the installation embodied incompatibilities between analog and digital systems.

He knew of 40 sets that had been manufactured to solve this problem, but all were sent to the National Training Center (NTC). His unit had none. He was asking me, an old retired LTC, for help because his unit is scheduled for its NTC rotation in February 2002, and as of now, he could not do the requisite preparation training.

In addition to the lack of a training system, Master Gunner X said that he spent most of his time training people how to use the FBCB2 when it was operational. He did not give numbers in terms of systems down for maintenance, but he said this was a major headache. He further stated that maintenance and training problems made it very difficult to move his Bradleys to the range to train.

He had another concern. He was concerned that the Army Personnel Managers were going to make the infantryman generic instead of specializing them by type of infantry. That is, the MOS specialty code for a mechanized infantryman was 11M. The MOS code for a straight-leg infantryman was 11B, and the anti-armor infantryman was an 11H. Now, the Personnel Managers want them to be all 11B.

This policy means that there are non-commissioned officers (NCOs) currently assigned to light infantry who will now be transferred to mechanized infantry units even though they do not have the necessary background in mechanized operations or in operating the platform. The Army has said that it will send these individuals to the appropriate schools, but the Master Gunner X is dubious. If he is right, NCOs will arrive in mechanized units with the necessary rank to command a Bradley but without the requisite tactical or mechanical knowledge.

Master Gunner X believes that this policy will set the NCOs up to fail - no matter how good at leadership the individual may be, his lack of knowledge will cause him to lose the respect of his crew and perhaps the entire platoon. Viewed from a master gunner's perspective, this kind of policy will magnify HIS already heavy burden of trying to train gunnery.

For years, the U.S. Army has been biased to assign the lowest scorers in the Armed Forces Qualification Test to the infantry. The M2A3 Bradley in our mechanized infantry is already one the most complex platforms in the Army to operate. Digitization will increase the complexity further.

Can we train low scoring soldiers to perform effectively in combat with this kind of equipment? If the Air Force, for example, places the best and brightest in the cockpit of their fighters, should not the Army place the best and brightest in the cockpits of our Infantry Fighting Vehicles?

The Sergeant First Class Master Gunner told me that he was seriously considering hanging up his spurs, because of the additional burdens imposed by the new equipment and the associated problems described above which were beyond his ability to fix. He had two years to go to retirement, but he said that he knows he can do better on the outside without spending 12-14 hours a day away from his family wrestling with these problems.

We all know that new equipment takes time to mature. It takes a long time for human crews to learn how to intuitively operate the internal complexities of the machine while focusing the efforts on the external chaos of combat It may be that the Master Gunner is experiencing the growing pains of the - digitized tank and Bradley are experiencing just this, growing pains. The potential for increased situational awareness seems significant - but it will take dedicated intelligent people to figure how to make it work in the real world. People like the Master Gunner.

On the other hand, the potential of digitization may be an unrealizable dream.

Hints of this problem can be seen from the performance of the 2d Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Infantry in the first phase if the Division Capstone Exercise (DCX) at the NTC.

Initial press reports suggested the exercise was a glowing, but now less flattering reports describing a variety of problems with digitization are leaking from a wide range of official and unofficial sources.

The communications bandwidth needed to get all the information distributed to the tactical force appears to have created one of the biggest problems. The information display is a digitized map display depicting friendly and enemy (when detected) locations. But when there is a communications outage, the map retains the last known position of the friendly units, but these are not the real locations, if the units have moved, which is usually the case.

I believe this is one reason why the digitized force had a higher number of friendly-fire kills at National Training Center than the non-digitized forces.

Another serious problem stems from the fact that the entire force is not and probably will not be digitized with compatible communications equipment. The non-digitized portion of the force, such as utility helicopters, for example, could not communicate directly with the force through the digitized network. While the Apache Longbow (AH-64D) could operate with the digitized force, information from the other helicopters had to be manually fed into the network of the digitized force.

There were also many maintenance problems with the equipment. While I was unable to obtain the relevant statistics, it is clear that the AFATDS software did not meet expectations and this resulted in seriously degraded fire missions.

But, in my opinion, there is a deeper far more serious problem than the bandwidth problem and the technical growing pains accompanying the Army's transition to this architecture.

My concern stems from a fear that commanders seeing a screen display may have a tendency to dictate to the leader on the ground as to his actions. This will stifle initiative, breed passivity, and could even slow down decision cycles. There is certainly evidence of this tendency at the anecdotal level.

In one case, a platoon leader told his company commander that he had no fields of fire from his location, and he requested permission to move to slightly higher ground a short distance away. The company commander refused the request, because the map display led the company commander to believe the platoon was perfectly situated. The result of the encounter with the adversary force proved the platoon leader correct. The platoon commander could have used his initiative and told the company commander what he was doing, but instead he had to ask and was refused. This not only slowed down platoon commander's decision cycle but made him less effective in the engagement. This illustrates how the appearance of improved situational awareness can lead to dysfunctional micromanagement.

On the other hand, the brigade (and division) appears to have faired well in several encounters with the vaunted OPFOR, which did not have the advantage of enhanced situational awareness provided by digitization. So, the jury is out.

While at the armor conference, I also had the opportunity to get into a M1A2SEP tank. There are many improvements and modifications to this tank, including a Commanders Integrated Thermal Viewer and a M-60 gun-sight for the gunner with 30x magnification. And for the tank commander (TC) there is the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) information system, complete with computer screen and keyboard.

Fortunately for this old soldier, however, a PFC crewman accompanied me on this part of the tour to explain what I was seeing. He answered my questions knowledgably and honestly. PFC YYY echoed the master gunner by telling me about the many maintenance problems attending to the digitized system. He told me that many of these reliability and maintenance problems could not be repaired by uniformed troops and require the support of civilian contact teams.

The PFC also told me that the mere act of looking at the screen display in front of the tank commander's position could be a major distraction in combat, which if true, would degrade rather than enhance the operator's situational awareness. The way the tank commander enters information into the Army Battle Command System is via a keyboard, which causes him to "heads-down" for example. In my opinion, which I remind you is conditioned by three tours in Vietnam, the FBCB2 would be hard to use when traveling and impossible to use in combat.

Tank commanders could use the voice radio as in non-digitized tanks as backup, and this happened often, according to my PFC guide. Again in my opinion, the FBCB2 system would be most usable when the enemy was not around.

Whatever the case, it is clear that the complexity of the M1A2SEP tank adds exponentially to an already complex platform.

There is another problem: The Army simply cannot afford to equip its entire armored force structure with expensive M1A2SEP tanks. Planners have adopted work-around systems to back-fit existing M1A1/2 tanks with simplified digitized systems. In fact, these simpler systems may be a better solution than the M1A2SEP.


My bottom line is that jury is still out on the Army's move to digitization.

I think there is a potential to improve situational awareness to the warrior, and the Army certainly seems intent on continuing this effort until the money runs out. Whether or not that potential is converted into reality depends on the answer to three central questions remain unanswered, in my opinion:

1. Can the soldiers and small unit leaders (NCOs and officers) assigned to operate the Bradleys and digitized tanks adapt to the new complexities?

2. Can the higher level commanders avoid micromanaging the movement of individual tanks if they have (or think they have) a better situational awareness of the battlefield?

3. The ultimate question is will digitization, the way it is being implemented, make a difference in combat?

This concept must be tested more rigorously under the most demanding free-play exercises and evaluated by impartial referees if were are to learn answers to these questions before we put our troops into harm's way

Lt Col XXX (U.S. Army Retired)

------[End Memo from LTC XXX]-----

The late American strategist, Col John R. Boyd (USAF Ret.) use to lecture, "Machines don't fight wars, people do and they used their MINDS."

Boyd's study of conflict remained true to this axiom. He evolved the now famous Observation - Orientation - Decision - Action (OODA) loop as the basis for a grand theory of conflict. Viewing war from a moral - mental - and physical perspective, Boyd's prime focus was evolve tactics, strategy, and grand strategy in terms of the how the living MIND of each adversary relates to and copes with his or her conflict environment -- the object of conflict being to destroy the opponent's relationship in such a way that he could not cope in a directed way with unfolding environmental conditions.

A brief introduction to Boyd's theory can be found in my essay "Ghengis John" here [Comment #199]. His entire Discourse on Winning and Losing can be downloaded from here (discourse in Adobe Acrobat PDF format).

Although Boyd was an accomplished technologist and extremely well read in matters of science and engineering, he focused his general theory of conflict on people and ideas and not technology. But he nevertheless concluded that increasing complexity adversely affects the quickness and relevance of one's own OODA loop. That is not to say increased complexity is bad, per se, but that it carries a price. In fact, Boyd was quite explicit about the price of increasing complexity, when he concluded, "Complexity (technical, organizational, operational, etc) causes commanders and subordinates alike to be captured by their own internal dynamics or interactions - hence they can not adapt to rapidly changing external (or even internal) circumstances." [See Boyd and the Military, Discourse on Winning and Losing, "Patterns of Conflict," Slide #176 - this conclusion is based on all the previous slides!]

Boyd's price of complexity is clearly evident in inwardly focused problems described in LTC XXX's memo, but LTC XXX is hardly the first to raise this concern in the context of Army doctrine and digitization.

Readers might want to consider the analyses and criticisms contained in the two earlier blasters:

  • Comment #348: "Why Synchronization Dumbs Down Your OODA Loop" which can be downloaded from here.

  • Comment #81 , "What Revolution in Military Affairs?" in Reference 1 below, particularly the speech given by Army BG Honore.

Maybe it is time to re-think the whole mechanical theory of the digitized battlefield and the Revolution in Military Affairs. Maybe it time to evaluate these theories against the dictum - "Machines don't fight wars, people do and they use their MINDs".

A place to start making such an evaluation is by using realistic free-play tactical exercises were the Red Team is free to do anything it can think of to defeat the Blue Team's miracle weapons.

Chuck Spinney

[Disclaimer: In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.]

Reference #1

Comment: #81
Wed May 06 07:34:09 1998
From: Chuck Spinney <cspinney@erols.com>
Subject: What Revolution in Military Affairs?

[Comment: For those of you who are believers in the Revolution in Military Affairs, the Revolution in Business Affairs, the all digital battlefield, and the concept of friction free warfare espoused in Joint Vision 2010, I urge you to read the attached document carefully TWICE! It is a transcribed version of Brig Gen Honore's (US Army) remarks to the Program Managers Conference held in Huntsville. It describes the reality of the RISING COST OF LOW READINESS from the perspective of the mud soldier who has to use equipment in the real world. While it is written for insiders and is full of jargon, it is extremely IMPORTANT and well worth the struggle. It has been widely distributed on the internet, as well as to the Army Material Command (AMC) Commanders and others.

No doubt, Honore's message will be ignored by those data free "visionaries" in the Pentagon and born again theologians in the think tanks who have seen the revolution through clear lenses of contractor hype, success oriented demonstrations, and the ecstasy of fact free computer simulations. It will also be ignored by Industry and its allies in Congress, but for more substantive reasons: Correcting these problems will require Congress to inflict pain on its constituents by "de porking" the money flowing out of its annual defense appropriation. To those of you who have already seen this document, I apologize for re transmitting it. Chuck Spinney]

[BG Honore's Remarks]
Customer/User Feedback

Remarks by BG Honore, ADC (S), 1st Cavalry Division at the 26 27 March PM/PEO Conference at Huntsville, AL.

BG Honore' was a member of LTG Benchoff's AMC DCG, New Equipment Fielding Panel.

"As a PM [program manager] or someone representing a PM, just remember your customer might be right about 50% of the time. Over the last 8 months I've talked to numerous PMs. Only when I put the NMC (non mission capable) equipment on the USR will I get their attention. You are fielding pieces of "crap" is that clear enough to you?

"The PM will then come down and we'll fix the issues. The PM's rationale is that they will tell me that in past tests they have never had that problem before. Well, you never had that problem before because we, the soldiers, use the equipment in the mud, and in the rain and we use it every day by the average soldier. We give a soldier a $4M M1A2 Abrams tank where I've got a TC who has a wife and three kids living in a trailer park down in Killeen, and he's on the WIC (Women, Infant and Children) program. You have this tank which goes from an analog to a digital system and requires him to follow procedures. Digitization increases workload on soldiers. Because the soldier has to train harder, he has to work harder, and the risk to the soldier of him inducing a fault on a piece of digital equipment goes up.

"A company commander went out and did a report of survey in the 1st CAV Division three months ago because two privates were slave starting an M1 tank, and during the slave starting process, burned up $415K worth of circuit cards in less then two minutes. That's a battalion's budget for a quarter. So as the risk goes up, the company commander decides whether he's going to stay in the Army or not. "So, do you think I'm going to get a two block or a one block", is his question to me?

"So, digitization is going to have some impacts on us that we really don't know. Your world would be very simple in the acquisition business if you didn't have to worry about people and you didn't have to worry about logistics. On the people side, there're a lot of contractors running around saying how much money they save you because they are experts. The experts are retired Warrant Officers and in many cases they are retired Master Sergeants that have been trained in the Army.

"The Warrant Officer I got in last week for the division Cavalry is trained on the Kiowa Warrior and Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He has never been in an M1A2 unit before because the Warrant Officer Corps believes he needs to be "rounded out" when he makes W3. He's only been in Artillery units and in ADA units. So the personnel side of this business is doing stuff to you that you don't even realize. We took the fully qualified M1A2 Warrant that was in there before, who saved us millions and millions of dollars each year, because of his technical capability, and we sent him to the reserves, who don't have the M1A2 tank. So there's things happening to you after you're equipment is fielded, that you never visualized before, as we see it in the CAV.

"CLS, Contractor Logistic Support. I think we need to approach this with caution. I have a NBC Vehicle, the FOX, which is a good example. Oh, by the way, it doesn't have a line item number, it doesn't have a LIN like the M88A2 has a LIN. Therefore, how do you report mileage and OR rates? Also, I can't change a tire on the FOX until the contractor shows up. The contract ends this year I'm told. There's no repetitive school so you've got to get an onsite MTT (mobile training team) because it's a low density piece of equipment. Another example of contractor logistics support, occurred at the NTC (National Training Center). Due to the fear of my unit missing flights coming out of there two months ago, I spent a quarter of a million dollars on overtime. So, we need to approach with caution how we use contractor logistics support across the force.

"The issue is a Mixed Fleet in a unit. From where I sit in the 1st Cavalry Division, we have been fighting mixed fleet challenges with our Abrams tanks for the last 2 1/2 years. If you ask the Warrant Officers and the NCOs , who I am representing here today, a mixed fleet in a unit is a mistake. Having 2 to 3 different types of tanks in the same unit is going to be a mistake unless you take some very stringent measures to mitigate the challenges, i.e. change the Army Logistics System and the way we put technicians into the divisions in terms of Warrant Officers and NCOs that can fix the equipment.

"The word I get from the NCOs is it's going to be a sad day in our Army when we get a piece of equipment in the division we can't fix and we can't tell the privates what is wrong with it. To solve the problem, we have to wait for some guy (contractor) to show up in a Jeep Cherokee who is back on the main post or who is downtown. That's what we're living with, with the FOX NBC vehicle for the last four or five years since we've gotten it. There are some real stories here to tell. The problem is, on the soldier's side, is that the customers change. Assistant Division Commanders in the division change about every 8 to 10 months. Every 6 months our tanks go to gunnery and normally have a different TC (Tank Commander) on them. So the customer doesn't stay in one place long enough to give you a full picture.

"A few comments on specific systems. M1A2 Abrams tank I think the IPRs we're having with the acquisition/logistics community have made a lot of progress with that system. The big challenge is digitization, going from an analog system to a digital system. We know that that tank is more like an F16 jet fighter than it's like an M1A1 tank and this should sort of scare us. We are supposed to be the chief force for the mission of land occupation and when we start getting that expensive, we need to start getting a little scared, because the guy, the TC of that tank, is on the WIC program and is concerned of the risk if he does something wrong in that digital tank and his company commander might want to do a report of survey on him.

"And, oh by the way, the TM (technical manual) maybe has not been updated, or the FM (field manual), because the schoolhouse is focused on the future. None of the schoolhouses focus now on the contemporary issues. You call them and they're all Force XXI, digital force oriented. Why, because they don't have the people they used to have. So to get Force XXI out, you learn it's current readiness that nobody there, at the school house, wants to talk to you about. They say wait until FBCB2 comes out or wait until the digital division comes out in 2000. What happens when we go to war tomorrow?

"The temperature is a problem on that M1A2 Abrams tank. There's some work being done to put the environmental system on it. I can tell you, however, when it got over 100 degrees last year, we had 25 of them dead lined on one day in the 3/8 CAV. That program needs to be accelerated. I'm told by the contractors, that the Saudi's don't have that problem well, they don't train during the day. Our soldiers live on the tank. The Saudi's go out for a couple hours in the morning. Then, in the heat of the day, they park their tanks and go into siesta. I mean they know when to not train on the tank, our soldiers train on them all the time. And when it gets to be a 100 plus degrees at Fort Hood, we're going to have LRU [line replaceable units aka black boxes] problems on the M1A2 tank until that problem gets fixed. It's our recommendation that this program be speeded up and we get that environmental control on that tank because the entire turret is a series of LRUs.

"The subject of changing of LRUs and SRUs [shop replaceable units aka circuit cards in black boxes]. The circuit cards, we don't think we get an adequate number of SRUs when we get the initial fielding. Without those spares on hand, what we have to do is get into the acquisition business through the SARRs program, which means you have to build demand. Again, this would be simple if you didn't have to worry about logistics which drives a lot of the things we do in the division because of the end gain on the budget. I'll give you a couple more examples. MLRS, we went from a battery in a division to a battalion. There was no increase in DS (direct support) maintenance personnel. Another example, M1A2 Abrams tank. We put 58 EAPUs (external auxiliary power unit) in the battalion and we did not increase the number of mechanics.

"On the LMTV, this vehicle is going to be a cost driver, as a matter of fact, I'm glad to see a picture of the Gamma Goat on the previous briefing here to remind you that you might have another one. Every PM ought to fear the fielding of another Gamma Goat. The cost per mile is going to be up, we have problems now with the brakes and we have problems with the prop shaft both problems the PM is working. Again, they are working through it.

"But, now, in the division, we have a truck where the mechanics are saying, "What are they giving us here, Sir". We can't put our conex on the back of it and we can't drop a tank engine on it because it's an aluminum bed. Tell us how we're going to get our number one common to the field. So the response to some people when these issues were brought up is that we've successfully fielded it in the 18th Airborne Corps. Well, we're a heavy division. We've fielded over 20 systems in the 1st Cavalry Division and the systems have to operate on their own.

"Speaking of digital systems, the add on digital systems for the tanks and artillery systems I suggest Sir, need to be on the USR. Some digital systems like IVIS on the M1A2 tank are currently not on the USR and should be treated as a system. Another example is the 129 trailers that BG Joe Yakovac is working on. He is going to tell us how we can mount containers in the back of them because we built this trailer, that, if you get a drop of water on it nothing will happen to the stuff inside, who cares, this is not the Titanic. Why did we build this trailer that if one drop of water gets in it protects whatever is inside? Why did we over engineer a trailer? I don't know. Why did we build a LMTV so it would run 100 miles without oil? Why do we want that? But a lot of money went into that, the transmission costs $15K on it while the transmission on the 2 1/2 ton truck costs less than $1,500. Who cares if it runs without oil?

"Kiowa Warrior is another great system. It doesn't have a PM because it's just an upgrade with the onboard computers, but the problem is that it won't talk to AFATDS right now. We have it in the field this week shooting live fire and it won't talk. We can get messages but, we can't get the grids. And if somebody's got the answer, welcome to Ft Hood, we can work on it with you. The on board mission planning system on Kiowa Warrior was a "drive by fielding". We should have the capability in the Calvary Squadron to send on board mission planning back and forth between squadrons to the troops out in the field. That system is not working. There is a retired gentleman that is a local representative who comes out when we need him. But, my unit does not have any trained personnel who know how to fully make that system work. We don't think we're going to be able to report C1 after fielding because the onboard computer system is not ready for prime time.

"The M88A2. The soldiers like this vehicle because of what they came off of the M88A1. They went from a 750 horsepower engine to 1100 plus horsepower engine and troops like power. We think this vehicle probably is the way to go. There's a problem right now with the winch on it and a big issue with the soldiers using a drag vehicle when you tow it. But we think the NCOs will make the right decisions to safely use the vehicle. But we need to get the winch fixed.

"AFATDS. We spent the money for it to talk to IVIS and to talk with the M1A2 tank. We spent the money for it to work on Kiowa Warrior. And, it's not working. Again, I don't think it's broke but it's bent right now because of some problems with upgrading systems. This is another point I want to mention. On digital systems that we see, when someone upgrades a piece of equipment or LRU it may knock off its connectivity off with other systems. We need to make sure that digital connectivity remains and that everybody has signed up to be in the program. And again, it's not reportable yet on the USR.

"The HEMTT. It's been around a long time. It's a great piece of equipment. Right now we have about 30 down in the division. But half of those are down for valves of some type. We've asked our folks along with the LAO to do a study on the valves to see if we could go to an increased benchstock where we could keep these things up. We got a lot of hate mail last year because our OR rate was below 90%. The combined effort of AMC and DCSLOG of the Army gave us some help and gave us a project code for HEMTT so when we order parts now they come in quicker because a lot of those are kept at DLA.

"But just to give you an example of another problem, of something we still fight with even after DESERT STORM. How do you fix a tire on a HEMTT? We now have a couple places on post to fix the tires. And at the DOL a tire can be changed in 1 2 hours. But, if a crew does it manually, it is a 6 or 7 hour job. So those are challenges we have that we.

"I personally think about 50% of the maintenance we do is due to operator and mechanic induced faults, if it's not more than that. Most of the stuff that breaks, we break it using it. That's the observation we have in the division. The more soldier friendly the equipment is, the clearer the FM is, the more trained the soldiers are, the more reliability we get out of the systems. One of the things we worry about is the competence of the soldier. We started to feel last year that the soldier was losing confidence in the M1A2 tank. In training they would bypass the digital system and use it like a M1A1 tank. A part of that is that a M1A2 tank has never been to the NTC. Of all the money that we put in it, other than at the company level, that tank has not been out on its maiden voyage yet to the NTC. We are proposing that we take it out next January. Our division commander is committed to take a battalion of them to the NTC along with a battalion's worth of Hercules as a part of the rotation.

"Analog versus digital procedures. Sir, there are a lot of issues with our NCOs that have not been trained on going from analog and digital. One of the things we have to teach them is about power. The average soldier using the equipment doesn't understand the impact of power on electronics or circuit cards. We teach them the analogy of why you use power protectors on your home computer. Take the M1A2 Abrams tank, those two soldiers while they were improperly slave starting the tank, their NCO and Officer were outside talking about a 2 mile road march. Yet, the soldiers were spending $415K of the commander's money.

"The problem is that non commissioned officers are not being trained nor is the officer corps on the impact of power on digital systems. Since that time, we've reduced energy spikes in the turret of the M1A2 tank. The PM has come up with a modification where he's going to put the slave starter on the back of the battery box vice through a $45K LRU let me remind you the privates didn't do that. When you built it, the M1A2, you put the slave receptacle inside a $45K LRU with circuit cards in it. So if there is a little burr on the outside of the slave receptacle, and you get some reverse polarity or something you burn up the circuit cards. So how do you make it more soldier proof and prevent operator induced faults. It would make sense now, an afterthought, that it's in the wrong place and you have to be a contortionist to get to the slave receptacle so you can slave start that tank.

"But back to analog versus digital. The great thing about digital is you can change it quickly. The thing we have to remember is to support it logistically. And when you make a mistake with digital, you make it big as in the case of the tank. So, "just because you can do something" Henry Ford used to say "Don't mean you oughta do it!" There's a price for 100% lethality that we need to maybe go back and look at, because maybe that sergeant whose on the WIC program may not be able to use the equipment once you build it. We need to start questioning soldiers to find out what it's going to take for them to sustain the equipment once they put it out in the field.

"To drop down the operator and mechanic induced failures, we think we need to have a continuous training program on site. Right now, the artillery school is still teaching TACFIRE which we've had fielded for many years. They won't start teaching AFATDS for another year. Right now we train our people, OJT, on site. The Armor school has just come on line and added a two week course for the M1A2 tank. The warrant officer who is the maintenance technician for the M1A2 tank, has a two week school he goes to. But, he cannot contribute to cost avoidance to the extent the FSR can. The LAOs do not help you with the digital systems because they are analog people. They are good people. Now if you have a problem with the Duce, 2 1/2 ton truck, you get all the help you want from the LAO. If you got a problem with the M113A2 you get all the help you want. But don't call them about the digital tank because they haven't gone to school. And the schools that are available don't make them technicians. They don't make them qualified. They just make them familiarized.

"So, the FSR (field service representative/contractor), still looks like a good deal. I'm just telling you I want FSRs now until we get the Warrant Officers trained. But, the sooner we get out of the FSR business the better. Now, let me mention the price for the FSR. If we hired one for each battalion, the price of one FSR for a tank battalion, you'd make more money than the Corps Commander. Hello! You'd be the highest paid man on post. Yea, he can save you $2M a year, but a Warrant Officer can save you more than that but we don't cost that out. We don't cost out what our good trained green suit technicians save us by knowing what they're doing. So, we gotta watch what we advertise, because you can advertise this thing when you get the civilian contractor. We can also hire a civilian contractor to take my place as the ADC(S). And, he'll save you a billion dollars a year as opposed changing one out every 8 months. Hello! And I know I'm exaggerating some and I hope I gave you what you asked for Sir you asked for some comments and I ......... thank you for listening."