FN Herstal

Stuff Like This Makes It Hard To Justify The Defense Budget

Yesterday, I was surprised that the Army PAO released yet another story on their Tyr Tactical MICO knockoff now dubbed the “Ironmanan” by the Army after a rebranding effort to sex it up. But, this time they make it sound like the Iowa Army National Guard developed the product instead of Natick. It was somehow missed by the main stream media last time but this time it hit big. Let’s spread the word and let everyone know that the Army spent money building something that already existed.

Is there some fat that needs to be cut in the defense budget? Definitely. After reading this story, I’d say we can come up with a few nominees. So let’s do that. In the comments section, tell us about Fraud Waste & Abuse. This story was originally broken by Military.Com’s KitUp! in July.

Source: SSD 7 July 2011

The Army developed he “new” High-Capacity Ammunition Carriage System in 45 days for use by troops in Operation Enduring Freedom. As soon as I saw it I raised an eyebrow. Unfortunately, it already existed in the form of the MICO from Tyr Tactical. The MICO was developed on Tyr’s own dime and debuted about a year ago. If time was of the essence, it sounds like the Army wasted 45 days to redevelop a commercial product that already existed.

Since we haven’t actually seen the High-Capacity Ammunition Carriage System, it might work entirely differently from the MICO. For instance the MICO uses a dedicated frame while the Government model attaches to a Down East frame. However, conceptually, they work the same way. Granted, it’s been done before to varying degrees of success, but something had to inspire the idea. We have been at war for nine years and no one asked for this until now? Was there at the very least some outside inspiration? Take a look at both versions and you be the judge.

But then again, maybe they were just inspired by Hollywood.

Naw…I’m not buying it either. If anyone in Government ever questions why Industry has animosity toward them, this might just be a good place to start.

Good on Kit Up! for breaking this story.

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41 Responses to “Stuff Like This Makes It Hard To Justify The Defense Budget”

  1. FormerSFMedic says:

    And people wonder why I have a problem with Natick. They are constantly wasting money on projects that go nowhere! In the case of the Ironman, they not only wasted money, but wasted time in the process. I think the biggest problem with Natick is that they have no understanding of modern weapons handling and tactics and therefore continue to waste time and money with projects that won’t work or make any sense on the actual battlefield. Furthermore, I believe that Natick doesn’t have a clear view of the industry, and what is available. So they continue to work on wasted projects that already exist in some form somewhere else. The Army needs a serious overhaul with training and procurement procedures.

  2. scott says:

    you want fraud waste and abuse? try ordering and having 50 cls bags NEVER used then repacked by the med group bc everything went bad when only roughly 5 people in your unit are cls certified….

  3. Steven says:

    we need to literally burn the people alive who constantly do that.
    WE WONT ADOPT MULTICAM WE WILL MAKE OUR OWN FOR 10x THE COST! WE WONT ADOPT THE MICO WE WILL MAKE OUR OWN FOR 10x THE COST!

  4. Mike says:

    Ideas are ideas, patents are patents. If you have an idea you don’t want others to use, get a patent. If you can’t get a patent, it wasn’t your idea in the first place so you have no right to cry.

    I would say it’s Tyes fault for overpricing the product so much that I was in the USG’s interest to make it themselves.

  5. I see what you mean but... says:

    Apparently Tyr didn’t over price it TOO much since they actually sold some to the Army. I wonder if the Natick ever contacted Tyr about this or if they just went and knocked it off.

  6. Chris says:

    Add the new magazine with the self leveling follower to the list, something that Magpul put on the market years ago.

  7. Phillip says:

    How about during every single CIP, SAV, inspection… every arms room, commo room, supply room across the army re-prints a checklist full of 1000 page TMs, regulations, etc… to have on hand for one day… then they all vanish. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  8. DAn says:

    coming from the civilian side of working with the gov as a whole and reading news stories every year about excess items in stock pile I’m just left with the feeling that the military and gov as a whole need to take some lessons from fedex and UPS and learn a better system for resource distribution and tracking. there is no reason that items should languish in one place or another when they are perishable or could be doing some good some place else rather than sucking up storage space.

  9. Aaron says:

    As soon as I saw this on gearscout this morning I muttered: lawsuit, if I was Tyr I’d sue the shit out of the Army.

  10. Ken says:

    You guys think this makes you mad? Wait ’til I tell you DoD just cut tuition assistance by roughly 25% for all branches. The Marine Corps took it a step further and capped it @ $875/yr.

  11. Stephen says:

    Sounds to me like your marketing department needs to get its act together.

  12. Administrator says:

    Who’s marketing department?

  13. Mike says:

    Talk about waste, How bout how upside down and corrupt the government contract business is, For example bidding a contract 1 million less than the big guy and still loosing it with no explanation. Gotta love it.

    • Administrator says:

      Mike,

      Unfortunately this happens all of the time and rarely is there an explanation. The most recent whopper was a recent contract award where the next highest bid was almost $14 million lower and that bid was within $100,000 of the third highest bid.

  14. Abu Amiri says:

    If Natick spent 45 days to come up with a less expensive version of the TYR product, then I’m all for it. At $4k a piece, the TYR product is ridiculously expensive. And Mike, having worked the USG contracting process, simply saying a bid was $1mil less than the next guy and implying that consideration wasn’t given to the bidders ability to actually fulfill the requirements at that price point, and failing to tell us how that bid stacked up technically to the next guy is just blowing hot air. That brings me back to this article. There is nothing here to suggest that because the Army developed a product similar to an existing one, that the development of that product was a waste or otherwise unnecessary. Simply not enough information to form a conclusion.

  15. Jimbo says:

    I’m with Steven. As a combat Soldier, nothing pisses me off more than the uniform issue!!!!!! Hey let’s waste millions on uniforms with the worst pattern we can ever come up with. I seriously believe, in my heart, that someone said a few years ago, “We should come up with a universal pattern for the war. There’s rocks in Afghanistan and Iraq, right?” Then they went out to the parking lot and took a picture of the gravel and made a pattern. If millions were spent on it, which it was, it was a total failure, waste and fraud. I think someone needs to go to prison over it because Soldiers have died because they stuck out like sore thumbs in that crap. I really want to meet those idiots who came up with it and thank them for showing me, everyday I’m stateside (which isn’t much) and getting dressed, that we have some real losers in our Army.
    Rant complete, off to bed.

  16. FormerSFMedic says:

    You wanna hear about wasted money. Look no further than PEO-Soldier!

  17. Andy says:

    Abu Amiri, $4k is simply the retail price to civilian consumers. It’s not necessarily the price per unit that could be negotiated under a large contract.

  18. Lawrence says:

    @Marc – wow, never seen that vid about the AR10 before. Just shows you how some times an idea keep cycling around through various iterations until somebody makes it work and gets it to stick…

  19. GMC Mongo says:

    I’ve seen pictures of similar “ammo pack” set ups going back as far as the early 80’s. In fact I’m certain we used to order them from NSWC Crane with chutes for the M60 E4 as “dismount” kits or something. I think I even have a old scanned black and white around here someplace.

  20. I see what you mean but... says:

    Similar products have existed in the past. The issue here is that there was a viable product on the market during the time that the Army answered an “urgent need.” Was it inspired by the Tyr product? Probably. Could the Tyr product have fulfilled the unit’s need? Since it was already in service with other Army units, I’d say that answer is “yes.”. Instead, someone decided to use taxpayer money to compete with a US company, one thing hat is both unethical as well as illegal. Who ended up building the Ironmanam? Was it a competitor to Tyr? We’re they paid to build a competitive product?

    Why does he US Army even still have Natick? It is redundant to the capabilities of industry. Want to save some money? Close Natick.

  21. Administrator says:

    Mongo,

    I’d love to see that system if you can find the photo.

    Thx

  22. Dimitri says:

    I’m not sure what the process in the army is but this looks like an Urgency of Need Statement. if it was an UNS or something similar you are actually not allowed to mention a specific product.

    Was there a contract and did TYR bid on it? Did the government save money by not using TYR’s offering? Was TYR even considered? How much money did they spend and how many did they field? I honestly would like to hear more info about this.

  23. Buckaroomedic says:

    Imitation is the highest form of flattery . . . . ?

  24. John says:

    Wonder how this article would read if you knew the real facts…

    http://www.army.mil/article/67318/_Ironmanan__a_game_changer_on_battlefield/

  25. JAG2955 says:

    Is it just me, or is the ammo belt backwards in the top pic? Brass to grass and all that jazz…

  26. Administrator says:

    John,

    Which article is that? This article? Is there something we are missing or do we need to completely break it down?

    This is the second time that the Army has floated this story around and this time it is even more embellished than the first one. They should have let that dog stay under the porch.

  27. FormerSFMedic says:

    I agree! The Army continues to put their foot in their mouth!

  28. Well... says:

    Is it not possible that some gents put there own together? I’d like to see more pictures of the actual original these guys supposedly put together. It’s not like the idea of an ammunition can strapped to your back is an old idea. They would have gotten a lot of the cost for the government out of the way. They did for free what a research team eats up money doing. All they had to do was take the one these guys made and make it not such a collage of random bits of gear. sounds cheap to me. Also, just not enough information in any of this to make this some great example of fraud or waste.

    Scott has a good example, DAn mentions something good, Phillip mentions something good, Jimmbo mentiosn a favorite of mine. From which i learned i hate velcro. The largest waste is not always gear. The best examples are in base management.

    • Administrator says:

      Well,

      That would be just fine if it was the story the Army put out. The problem is, it wasn’t. If you read the Army’s story, they talk about this being built at Natick. In fact, that is really what the story is about.

      One great point in the Army story is that they talk about how much the feed chute costs.

  29. Pat says:

    “If anyone in Government ever questions why Industry has animosity toward them, this might just be a good place to start.”

    So an industry the government created and sustains is angry at the government because….?

    Give me a break, this is not a groundbreaking idea. An ammo can on your back is hardly original. And if it was so strikingly genius, they would have ample legal recourse.

    • Administrator says:

      Pat,

      I think you missed the point. The idea isn’t new and no one has said it is. The point is that the product was already available. No reason to spend dollar one of Government R&D dollars.

      There is a pretty popular train of thought that Government should not be in competition with industry. On the other hand, there is a system where Government IS industry. It’s called communism.

      The real culprit here is the system that matches requirements with capabilities.

  30. Andrew says:

    Fraud, Waste and Abuse:

    While I was attending SLC (Senior Leaders Course) at Ft. Huachuca this summer I noticed that “The Army” has developed a love affair with 42″ LCD TVs.

    Example 1: In the foyer in the NCOA (Ice Hall) there are two 42″ TV mounted on the wall. The sole purpose of these is to play a continuous loop of step-by-step PRT instruction 24 hours a day. SERIOUSLY?!?! Who the hell thought that up? Who, upon entering the NCOA would have the free time and lack of a life would actually stand there and watch instructional PRT?

    Example 2: In Alverado Hall (HQ) there is a 42″ TV mounted on the wall facing the front door. The sole purpose of this TV is to replace the normal building directory. SERIOUSLY?!?! Who the hell puts a $1000 TV on the wall when you could put a freaking normal sign, you know the NORMAL ones where you can change out the letters???

    Oh, and I just PCS’d to Ft. Stewart. Should I even get started on that place???

  31. Well... says:

    What can you say? The Army is trying to compete with it’s only child The Air Force.

  32. Pat says:

    Unless it would cost more to purchase the COTS product.

    I’m tired of seeing products that are unaffordable to most units and Joe, so I have no particular love for “the industry.”

    The system is definitely terrible at matching requirements with capabilities, no argument here. The one size fits all approach to equipping units headed into theater is an abomination.

  33. Administrator says:

    Pat, agreed on your last comment. However, these companies are in business. That means they make money. I agree that war profiteering is unacceptable, but running a business isn’t cheap, by any means.

    Just go back to Business 101 and you will know that if you make more of something it is cheaper. This is one of the reasons that some of the more exotic technologies we see here on SSD are so expensive. A small organization with a specialized mission specifies the manufacture of a certain piece of kit. All of the R&D and set up is usually amortized over that initial run since the manufacturer never knows if they will be able to sell more. And, sometimes they can’t due to the specialization of the gear.

    However, as we see in this case, the war is the war and the needs of an Infantryman really aren’t that fundamentally different than those of a SOF operator. There is usually a larger market for specialized kit.

    Interestingly, the Army’s story discussed the cost of the feedchute. When we first wrote about the Tyr Mico, they too told us that much of their cost was in the feedchute assembly.

    On a final note, it’s difficult to accurately capture the true cost of a product developed by Government. Oftentimes, material costs are tracked but man hours are taken for granted.

  34. scoutsgodeep says:

    either way…I’m not humpin’ that bitch…thats for damn sure.