Objective Force coming into focus

Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff who launched the service's transformation more than two years ago, said he is unsure exactly what the Objective Force will look like, but is confident that it will improve on current capabilities.

Shinseki said the next two years would begin to define the Objective Force, which is envisioned as more deployable than the current armored forces and better able to survive an all-out fight than the current light forces. It is also a period of incorporating technologies in the design of systems that are more difficult for the enemy to hit.

"I don't know what it will look like, but it has to be better...more strategically responsive and more deployable," Shinseki said during his keynote presentation at the Association of the U.S. Army's 2002 Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Shinseki then showed the audience a dramatization of a conflict involving the Objective Force in 2015. The portrayal, created by the Institute for Creative Technologies, showed soldiers using an assortment of futuristic technologies, including uniforms that changed colors to blend with their surroundings, an exoskeleton for holding back unruly crowds, and self-sealing face masks that could withstand thrown objects.

The ICT is a collaborative effort among the Army, the University of Southern California and the movie industry to develop realistic simulation and virtual reality tools to benefit military training, Hollywood moviemaking and the video game industry.

Shinseki said he wasn't sure that Objective Force warriors would have the capabilities shown in the film by 2010 -- when the first transformed Army unit will be equipped. But he was confident that the concept of the unit's commander sending an authenticated message via the Internet to close the communications loop with a soldier's family was much closer to being reality.

"People make the difference in whatever technologies we're able to discover.... Of that I am sure," he said.

When asked if he was pleased with the Army's transformation progress so far, Shinseki said it was difficult to answer because there is no basis for comparison.

"We are with momentum today and if there is a priority, it is to build more momentum," he said, adding that two areas for immediate focus are aviation and logistics.

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