Army transformation relies on tech

Association of the U.S. Army

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Science and technology are key to the Army's ongoing transformation and eventual fielding of the Objective Force, according to many of the service's leaders in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Association of the U.S. Army's 2002 Winter Symposium.

Claude Bolton Jr., assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, said science and technology would enable the Army's transformation into the Objective Force, envisioned as more deployable than the current armored forces and better able to survive an all-out fight than the current light forces.

Technological innovations and business process changes are necessary for success, Bolton said, because the service hasn't faced a change like this in 50 years. "Virtually every fabric of the Army [is] touched somehow," he said.

Bolton said the Future Combat System -- a family of information technology-laden vehicles capable of conducting missions that include command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and indirect fire, and personnel transport -- would serve as the centerpiece of the Objective Force and was tentatively scheduled for delivery by the end of the decade.

The Army partnered with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop FCS, and they are in the final stages of source selection for a systems-integrator contract worth more than $150 million, Bolton said.

As soon as the integrator is selected, its team will begin working with government colleagues at Fort Knox, Ky., which has been established as the Objective Force Battlelab Federation for FCS, said Brig. Gen. Robert Mixon Jr., deputy commanding general of the Army Armor Center at Fort Knox.

On March 1, that site officially will assume its new role as the hub for collaboration among Defense Department and industry laboratories and will serve as the "engine of tactical development for the Objective Force," Mixon said. "We have the engine running and our nation deserves no less."

Gen. Paul Kern, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, said the service "knows how to integrate systems, but now must integrate systems of systems." That calls for collaboration among the Army commands, DARPA, industry and academia to achieve the goals of the Objective Force, he said.

"The Objective Force is not an end state, but a path on the road of continuous change," Kern said.

Retired Army Gen. Gordon Sullivan, who is president of the Association of the U.S. Army, said he liked what he saw and heard during the first day of this year's conference, which has already nearly doubled last year's total of 900 attendees.

"Organizing around knowledge and information -- that's the key," Sullivan said. "I also agree with the chief of staff of the Army who said: 'If you like what you're seeing in Afghanistan, you're going to love Objective Force.' "

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