No resting on transformation march

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Army should be proud of the progress it is making in its transformation to the Objective Force, but being proud and being complacent are two different things, one service leader says.

Lt. Gen. John Riggs, director of the Objective Force Task Force, said the Army and its lead systems integrator team of Boeing Co. and Science Applications International Corp. should take pride in the recent request for proposals for the system development and demonstration phase of the Future Combat Systems (FCS), but that is just one step in a long journey.

"The wheels are turning in the right direction, but don't get comfortable, because we've got a long way to go," Riggs said during a Feb. 28 panel at the Association of the U.S. Army's winter symposium.

The Objective Force is a strategy to develop advanced information technology tools, vehicles and weapons that will make the Army's armored forces better able to survive an all-out fight. The first unit is scheduled to be equipped in 2008, with initial operational capability by 2010.

FCS will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to give soldiers capabilities for command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and non-line-of-sight weapons firing, and personnel transport.

"There's a long way to go to make sure the conceptual foundation for the Objective Force is understood and accepted," by all the players involved, including the Pentagon's leadership, the other military services, Congress and industry, Riggs said. Just "because we can technologically establish something, doesn't mean we will," unless the conceptual foundation is in place and accepted.

An FCS milestone decision before the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) is scheduled for mid-May, and Riggs said that milestone and all others in the future should not be an impediment — they are only a "weigh point" on the path to production and fielding.

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