Objective Force draft reviewed

The Army's staff components and major commands are reviewing the first draft of a white paper released last week by the Objective Force Task Force that attempts to define what the service will look like in 2015.

The white paper, titled "The Objective Force in 2015," looks at all aspects of the service's ongoing transformation and how it will affect personnel; intelligence; command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR); space; sustainment; training; and other staff areas, said Lt. Gen. John Riggs, director of the Objective Force Task Force.

The Objective Force is a strategy to develop advanced IT tools, vehicles and weaponry to make the Army's armored forces more agile and lethal. The service's plan is to have the first Objective Force unit employed in 2008, with initial operational capability in 2010. Army officials admit that it is an aggressive timetable, but one they remain confident in achieving.

Army staff contingents and major commands have until Nov. 4 to review the white paper and submit their own plans, Riggs said. Once those reviews are in, a final copy of the white paper is expected to be complete by Nov. 15.

"This [transformation] is in a constant state of review and update," Riggs told Federal Computer Week after an Oct. 22 panel discussion at the Association of the U.S. Army's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. "By no stretch of the imagination should it be considered static."

Once the white paper is complete, Army leaders will work to synchronize the timelines of the transformational staff components and major commands, working toward an approved Army Transformation Campaign Plan by mid-December, a Transformation Roadmap by March 1, 2003, and a State of the Army review scheduled for March 15.

"We need to by synchronized to be successful...and we need a major review annually or semi-annually," said Riggs, adding that the current review was pre-planned and is not a reaction to concerns from Defense Department and Capitol Hill officials that the Army's timelines are unattainable. "The questioning of aggressive timelines is healthy."

Maj. Gen. David Melcher, director of the Army's Program Analysis and Evaluation office in the Pentagon, agreed and said the service remains confident in its Objective Force plans, including the fielding of Future Combat Systems.

FCS will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to enable soldiers to conduct missions, including command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and indirect fire, and personnel transport. FCS is scheduled to reach Milestone B next March.

"The timelines are eminently attainable," Melcher told FCW, adding that the Army will conduct at least three FCS reviews with the DOD between now and next March.

Riggs said that the Army might never reach its "objective designs" for FCS because the threshold capabilities for 2010 are still being defined and technology evolves so quickly.

"All of the architectural work on C4ISR is ongoing at this time," and the service will continually assess technologies to support rapid acquisition and fielding in the future, he said.

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