The U.S. Army has formally announced its decision to terminate the Class I Unmanned Aerial System and the Tactical and Urban Unattended Ground Sensors, a move expected after the Army issued a stop-work order to prime contractor Boeing on Jan. 6.
So the Army had a vision for what it called the Early Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or E-IBCT. It was “transformational” in which the power of technology would be leveraged to make the force “all seeing, all knowing” by using futuristic sensors, UAVs, and ground robots. Only problem was, none of these technologies existed.
After the first Gulf War, and especially in the late 90s, early 2000s, all the services were obsessed with “transformational” technology. But that fascination ran into two walls at almost the same time.
First, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both wars showed that while technology was great, and a critical tool, that’s all it was- a tool. Troops were still the critical asset on the battlefield, and that quantity had a quality all its own when it came to numbers of troops on the ground.
Secondly, the services found that moving from a PowerPoint presentation of what the future force would look like to fielding that force was a heck of a lot harder than they expected. Cost overruns have been almost constant, and greater than the anticipated value of the programs.
With the exception of the Network Integration Kit, pretty much all the technology from the E-IBCT program has been cancelled.
The Army (and the other services) would be well advised to make their next technological advances evolutionary, rather than revolutionary.