Army battles irrelevancy

Atlantic City, N.J. Although the Army's latest plan to build lighter, leaner and more mobile forces relies heavily on information technology, the effort has nothing to do with breaking free of hulking tanks or creating a more lethal force out of an already lethal Army. What the strategy really i

Atlantic City, N.J.—Although the Army's latest plan to build lighter, leaner and more mobile forces relies heavily on information technology, the effort has nothing to do with breaking free of hulking tanks or creating a more lethal force out of an already lethal Army.

What the strategy really is about is reorganizing the Army so it can respond quickly to the types of crises that the Pentagon has found itself dealing with in places such as Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo. Because Kosovo demonstrated that the Army is not properly organized or equipped to be a "911 force"—like the role the Marines and the Air Force play—officials are betting on this lighter, more flexible IT-based force to help the Army escape the creep of irrelevancy.

When the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki, first announced his new vision for reinventing the Army last month, he identified IT as a key component in the transformation. Shinseki is betting on a new generation of command, control, communications and intelligence systems to produce a more agile force out of a World War II-vintage Army that has been organized and equipped to fight land battles on the plains of Europe.

"The military instrument must be responsive," said Gen. John Keane, the Army's vice chief of staff, during the recent Military Communications Conference (Milcom) '99 conference here. The window of opportunity for decision-makers in Washington, D.C., to react to global crises is closing. Keane said the vision of the new Army must rest on the principle of being able to deploy anywhere in the world in 96 hours.

Keane said the Army plans to accelerate research and development programs in reach-back technologies, particularly in communications and logistics.

Commercial off-the-shelf technologies will enable "organizational conversions," Keane said, adding that by standardizing headquarters facilities, the Army will "make certain that they are capable of conducting split-based operations." Split-based operations describes the ability to command, control and sustain units remotely from a headquarters facility in the United States or aboard a ship.

Communications and logistics must be carried out correctly or "you're destined to fail" in any military operation, Keane said.

To enhance the Army's mobility through robust communications, the service plans to beef up its reliance on the Milstar constellation of communications satellites. Milstar satellites use sophisticated on-board computer processing capabilities and radio signal processing tools that provide jam-resistant communications for nuclear and tactical ground forces.

"The history of warfare is the history of technology," said Army Gen. John Coburn, commander of the Army Materiel Command. The Army, Coburn said, is working on IT-based "fort-to-port improvements" that will provide enhanced visibility of supplies and troops as they traverse the globe.

The goal of the Army's $1 billion logistics modernization program is "to make it so simple that you can use the same software that your home computer uses," Coburn said.

Anthony Valletta, vice president of C3I systems for SRA Federal Systems and former acting assistant secretary of Defense for C3I, said that the Army faces a balancing act when it comes to resources and modernization requirements.

"The Army has taken the deepest cuts out of all of the services over the years," Valletta said. "IT plays a critical element in order to make this whole thing work. That doesn't say that you want to run the Army from behind a PC, but it doesn't come cheap."

Shinseki is "more than a little discomforted that the Army didn't get to play in Kosovo," said Martin Libicki, a defense analyst with Rand Corp., referring to the Army's inability to get equipment to the fight when it was needed. "We really should be digitizing down to the PalmPilot. That's where you want to digitize the Army," he said.

John Pike, a defense analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, said that the Army's new vision is a battle to become relevant. "A country that has an air force that can deploy in days and win a war in weeks may not have too much need for an army that needs months to deploy."

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.