NY Times omitted DoD response to claim that canceling FCS vehicle production would endanger troops

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

The New York Times reported James Inhofe's assertion that Defense Secretary Robert Gates' proposal to cancel the Future Combat Systems vehicle program would endanger troops without noting Gates' justification for canceling the program.

An April 8 New York Times article reported Sen. James Inhofe's (R-OK) assertion that Defense Secretary Robert Gates' proposal to restructure the Future Combat Systems (FCS) by canceling the production of several types of FCS vehicles would "risk sending our sons and daughters into combat in vehicles that are second-rate and are less survivable and effective in combat." Although Times reporters Elisabeth Bumiller and Christopher Drew did note that "[g]overnment auditors have repeatedly criticized the vehicles as the worst part of a project troubled by cost overruns and questions about whether its technology is sound," they did not point out Gates' justification -- specifically relevant to Inhofe's claims about safety -- for canceling the FCS vehicle program. In an April 7 conference call posted by Wired magazine's Danger Room blog, Gates asserted that the design of FCS vehicles had "not really adequately integrated the lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq" and specifically referenced "the vulnerability of [FCS vehicles'] lighter armor to EFPs [explosively formed penetrators] and IEDs [improvised explosive devices]."

Gates similarly stated, during an April 6 press conference, that "the FCS vehicles -- where lower weight, higher fuel efficiency and greater information awareness are expected to compensate for less armor -- do not adequately reflect the lessons of counterinsurgency and close-quarters combat in Iraq and Afghanistan."

From the April 8 New York Times article:

Members of Congress from Georgia and Oklahoma, where the jet and the Army project mean jobs, promised a fight. The arguments, which were frequently directed by Republicans against one of their own -- Mr. Gates, one of two Republicans in President Obama's cabinet -- were cast in terms of national security and moral responsibility.

"F.C.S. is Army modernization," Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, said of the Future Combat Systems, a program that links soldiers with weapons, robotic sensors, a communications network and combat vehicles. "Without it, we risk sending our sons and daughters into combat in vehicles that are second-rate and are less survivable and effective in combat. What price should we place on the lives of our children we send off to war?"

Mr. Inhofe had arranged for work on one of eight ground vehicles in the Army program to be done in Oklahoma, but Mr. Gates proposed scrapping that vehicle as well as the seven others. Government auditors have repeatedly criticized the vehicles as the worst part of a project troubled by cost overruns and questions about whether its technology is sound.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Defense Funding
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
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