Army transformation built around IT

The rapid explosion of information available to potential foes is driving

the Army's transformation to a lighter and more lethal force, according

to Gen. John Keane, the Army vice chief of staff.

"If you look at just the last 10 years, you can see that the amount of time

our military and political leaders have to deal with a crisis and to intervene

before that crisis becomes a conflict is considerably less," Keane said

today at the TechNet conference in Washington, D.C. "Given that reality,

the United States Army has to be more responsive than what it is."

The Army intends to build a force around the Future Combat System series

of vehicles. A vehicle will be loaded with information technologies that

would enable it to target and destroy enemy forces without being detected — a critical capability considering the 20-ton vehicle will be battling

tanks up to three times its size.

And when it comes to the information revolution, the Army is transforming

itself around its ability to collect, analyze and disseminate information

on the battlefield. The Army intends for its forces to be networked with

information systems so that commanders and soldiers are fully aware of the

entire battlefield situation.

The Future Combat System, for example, likely will be assisted in information

gathering by unmanned vehicles in the air and on the ground. In fact, the

Future Combat System itself may be unmanned, Keane suggested.

"We are recognizing that robotics are here to stay," Keane said.

The Future Combat System will also likely fire long-range precision munitions,

which through miniaturized electronics will be much smaller but more deadly

than those used by today's tanks.

The idea, according to Keane and other service leaders, is to allow U.S.

forces to engage an enemy from a great enough distance that U.S. forces

cannot be detected or fired upon.

"With situational awareness, a commander does not even need to be in the

same theater [of war]," Keane said. He added that making the transformation

a reality requires a Global Information Grid, Warfighter Information Network-Tactical

and the Joint Tactical Radio System.

Keane described the Army transformation as the biggest change the service

has seen since World War II and said it includes changes in operations,

doctrine, organization, equipment, training and leadership development.

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