Minimizing Friendly Fire:

The Army Should Consider Long-Term Solution in Its Procurement Decision on Near-Term Needs

NSIAD-94-19: Published: Oct 22, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1993.

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Louis J. Rodrigues
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's development of a combat identification program to minimize ground-to-ground and air-to-ground friendly fire incidents, focusing on the Army's Battlefield Combat Identification System (BCIS).

GAO found that: (1) the Army intends to begin near-term BCIS production in July 1995, but it will not decide what the mid- and long-term solutions will be until October 1996; (2) the Army's plans to initiate BCIS production before deciding what technology will be used in later phases could result in a system that cannot be integrated into the long-term solution and the waste of millions of dollars; (3) the Department of Defense has strengthened oversight of BCIS and limited initial funding for it to $50 million; (4) the Army's near-term BCIS technology and fielding plans are not sufficient for large-force conflicts or those requiring close air support using fixed-wing aircraft; (5) other available or planned combat identification systems can provide interim anti-fratricide protection while the Army pursues long-term BCIS planning; and (6) the near-term BCIS system will not significantly enhance anti-fratricide protection because of its limited deployment and susceptibility to enemy interference.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD deferred its FY 1995 funding request of $25 million until FY 1996 when the options for the long term will be better known.

    Recommendation: To help ensure that the Army does not produce a costly system that would provide insufficient coverage in large conflicts or any conflict involving fixed-wing aircraft and may not be able to be integrated into a long-term solution, and would thus be discarded a few years after fielding, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army not to proceed with the production of a near-term BCIS until the Army determines whether the near-term technology can be integrated into the mid- and long-term target identification solutions.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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