While we all await the official—and for now, separate—Requests for Proposal from the Army and the Marine Corps for the long-awaited Humvee recap program that would rebuild at least 60,000 Army HMMWV’s and 3,400 Marine HMMWV’s, no one is quite sure yet what the exact requirements will be, or if the two services will come together to offer a joint request.
While a joint program would certainly entail some concessions from both services as to weight, survivability, and mobility, it would also most certainly be more cost effective in terms of economies of scale for both services—something that is becoming a high priority at the Pentagon.
At a recent breakfast meeting with reporters, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli spoke to the issue. Due to President Obama’s request for $400 billion in defense budget cuts over the long term, “the services are working together to look at programs, redundancies and duplications” wherever they can, he said. While redundancies across the services in and of themselves aren’t always a bad thing, the Pentagon needs to “take a look across the services to see if we have duplications, and if we can play to the strength of one service.” In fact, the services have already come together in a series of what one industry official calls “technology summits” to try and hammer out common requirements. But with the Marine RFP due any day now, and the Army’s due next month, no one is quite sure what to expect.
One thing everyone does agree on however, is that the bruised and battered Humvee fleet needs help, and since the services plan on driving them by the thousands at least until 2030, the fleet needs help fast. A RAND study released earlier this year found that given the HMMWV’s quarter century of service, multiple variants, and years at war have thrown the fleet “out of balance in several areas.” The Army National Guard actually has a higher percentage of uparmored HMMWVs than the active force “despite having fewer requirements, but the [Guard’s] overall level of modernization trails both the active component and U.S. Army Reserve because of its lower level of modernized unarmored HMMWVs.” It’s an imbalance that will take lots of money, and decades, to undo.