Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) Mobility, Reconnaissance, and Firepower Programs
Congressional Research Service
R44968
March 27, 2019
Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) constitute the Army’s “light” ground forces and are an important part of the nation’s ability to project forces overseas. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as current thinking by Army leadership as to where and how future conflicts would be fought, suggest IBCTs are limited operationally by their lack of assigned transport and reconnaissance vehicles as well as firepower against hardened targets and armored vehicles.

There are three types of IBCTs: Light, Airborne, and Air Assault. Light IBCTs are primarily foot-mobile forces. Light IBCTs can move by foot, by vehicle, or by air (either air landed or by helicopter). Airborne IBCTs are specially trained and equipped to conduct parachute assaults. Air Assault IBCTs are specially trained and equipped to conduct helicopter assaults.

Currently, the Army contends IBCTs face a number of limitations:
--The IBCT lacks the ability to decisively close with and destroy the enemy under restricted terrains such as mountains, littorals, jungles, subterranean areas, and urban areas to minimize excessive physical burdens imposed by organic material systems.
--The IBCT lacks the ability to maneuver and survive in close combat against hardened enemy fortifications, light armored vehicles, and dismounted personnel.
--IBCTs lack the support of a mobile protected firepower capability to apply immediate, lethal, long-range direct fires in the engagement of hardened enemy bunkers, light armored vehicles, and dismounted personnel in machine gun and sniper positions; with all-terrain mobility and scalable armor protection; capable of conducting operations in all environments.

To address these limitations, the Army is undertaking three programs: the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV)/Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV), formerly known as the Ultra-Light Combat Vehicle (ULCV); the Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (LRV); and the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF)programs. These programs would be based on vehicles that are commercially available. This approach serves to reduce costs and the time it takes to field combat vehicles.

The GMV/ISV is intended to provide mobility to the rifle squad and company. The LRV would provide protection to the moving force by means of scouts, sensors, and a variety of medium-caliber weapons, and the MPF would offer the IBCT the capability to engage and destroy fortifications, bunkers, buildings, and light-to-medium armored vehicles more effectively. The FY2020 Army GMV budget request for $37 million in procurement funding supports the procurement of 69 GMVs for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and 15 ISVs for the Army.

The FY2020 GMV Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) request is for $3 million to support operational testing. The Army did not submit a FY2020 budget request for the LRV program. The FY2020 Army MPF budget request for $310.152 million in RDT&E funding supports the continuation of rapid prototyping efforts and the completion of 24 prototypes.

Potential issues for Congress include the future of the LRV effort; Security Force Assistance Brigades (SFABs) and GMV/ISV, LRV, and MPF requirements; and GMV/ISV, LRV, and MPF fielding plans.


This report is hosted on the website of the Federation of American Scientists.



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