Army’s Non-Standard Vehicles Drive the Afghanistan Drawdown
The U.S. Army’s Product Director Non-Standard Vehicles (PD NSV) is providing the Afghanistan National Security Forces (ANSF) with key maneuver capabilities that are critical to expediting the strategic drawdown of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan by 2014.
In 2005 NATO’s Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan began equipping the ANSF with the Ford Ranger J97 Light Tactical Vehicle (LTV) to enhance the ANSF’s tactical capabilities and its ability to secure and stabilize Afghanistan. The ANSF includes the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the Afghan National Army (ANA); both branches heavily use the LTVs to carry out their mission of security and peacekeeping.
The LTV fleet has four variants—the cargo, mobile maintenance, police, and tactical ambulance vehicles. The Ford Ranger J97 light cargo pickup truck is the most commonly used vehicle in the ANSF. To date, more than 31,000 LTVs have been fielded to the ANA and ANP. An additional 10,000 are scheduled to be fielded by the end of 2012.
“At nearly 26,000 vehicles, the police variant is the highest-density vehicle in the ANSF fleet,” said LTC Graham Compton, PD NSV. “This variant is solely used by the ANP, while the cargo vehicle variant is used solely by the ANA.”
The remaining two variants, the ambulance and mobile maintenance vehicles, are used by both the ANP and ANA.
“Based on feedback from the field, the Ford Ranger LTV has been a dependable workhorse for the ANSF,” said Compton. “It is probably the most reliable and important asset to the ANSF, meeting the essential equipment needs to strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces, enabling them to take lead responsibility for Afghanistan’s future.”
The LTVs are commercially acquired through Global Fleet Sales (GFS), an authorized Ford dealer. GFS is responsible for the integration of 31 modifications to the vehicles, equipping the fleet to effectively fulfill its mission and operate in an austere environment.
In April 2011, the Army’s Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support established the [Product Director Non-Standard Vehicles] with the mission to provide life-cycle management of non-standard commercial light tactical, medium tactical, sport utility, and bus vehicle fleets for the ANSF.
Some of the modifications include the addition of provisions to carry and store weapons, a heavy-duty suspension package to increase mobility, and a robust vehicle collision protection package to improve winch and towing capabilities. The integration of an environmental package ensures cold-start operations in extremely low temperatures. The combination of these integrations with the extended-range fuel tank and the severe off-road package permits the ANA and ANP to stay in contact and to protect citizens in areas that are difficult for basic commercial vehicles to navigate.
In April 2011, the Army’s Program Executive Office Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS) established the PD NSV with the mission to provide life-cycle management of non-standard commercial light tactical, medium tactical, sport utility, and bus vehicle fleets for the ANSF. PD NSV’s mission is a critical component of U.S. combat forces’ overall transition plan.
“The ANSF lacked the logistical infrastructure, trained maintainers, and supply parts needed to effectively sustain the high density vehicle fleet,” said COL William Boruff, Project Manager Joint Combat Support Systems in PEO CS&CSS. “It was at this point that the Army tasked us to develop cradle-to-grave, life-cycle management to provide the ANSF with the capacity to be self-sustaining and independently conduct security operation missions.”
PD NSV supports future fleet acquisition requirements and validates total fleet requirements in country. It also develops and provides training manuals, and facilitates training for the ANSF.
“The stand-up of this organization shows the responsiveness of the acquisition community and leadership to the warfighter’s needs. Within a month of notification, the organization was chartered, resourced, and began providing vital program management support to the ANSF. We have made numerous trips to the Area of Responsibility, been integrated into the Foreign Military Sales teams and processes, and have provided timely and responsive results to meet warfighters’ needs,” said Compton.
This month, PD NSV will begin testing two Police LTVs at Yuma Proving Ground, AZ, to capture performance and reliability data. Results will help improve the technical specifications for future acquisitions of similar vehicles.
Other vehicles such as Navistar’s 7000 series Medium Tactical Vehicle, the Ford Everest Sport Utility Vehicles, and Blue Bird and Navistar Buses are also being supplied to the ANSF. Afghanistan’s terrain and environment demand the use of a diverse fleet of vehicles. This diversity, and the accompanying maintenance and management issues, clearly illustrate the need to educate, equip, and sustain the ANSF’s ability to manage and maintain a diverse fleet long after U.S. combat forces withdraw from Afghanistan.
- CYNTHIA MERRITT is a Strategic Communications Specialist for Project Manager Force Projection. She is currently pursuing a B.S. in integrated leadership studies from Central Michigan University.
- ALVIN BING is an Assistant Product Manager for Non-Standard Light Tactical Vehicles. He holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Howard University and an M.B.A. from New York Institute of Technology. He is Level III certified in program management, systems engineering, and program systems engineering and Level II certified in production, quality, and manufacturing. Bing is a U.S. Army Acquisition Corps member.