Modernization Will Carry Warfighter Into 21st Century
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 24, 1998 Modernization of current weapon systems and the development of new systems is necessary to carry the warfighter into the 21st century, DoD's acquisition chief told Congress March 12.
Jacques Gansler, defense undersecretary for acquisition and technology, told the Senate Armed Services Committee what he believes must be done to have "fast, lean, mobile warfighters prepared for battle."
Many of today's weapon systems are becoming obsolete and yet more expensive to use, Gansler said. Because they are integral to the defense structure, upgrades are badly needed, he said.
But upgrades only go so far, he warned -- the time is nearing when weapons must be replaced instead.
Gansler presented five goals to ease this change. He called them the building blocks that maintain U.S. strength and national security in the face of a new generation of threats.
First, an interoperable and integrated infrastructure is necessary. "This is the joint area that we have to really focus on in all aspects encompassing both strategic and tactical needs," he said.
The second step is developing and deploying enough weapons. They must be long range, all weather, low cost, precise and brilliant, Gansler said. "This will allow us to achieve maximum firepower on fixed or mobile targets from land, sea or air with minimum loss of life," he said.
Achieving rapid force projection and global reach is the third element. "With uncertainty where our forces are going to be required and the need for extremely rapid response to a crisis anywhere in the world, this capability, when combined with the first two elements, will provide us with overwhelming military superiority," Gansler said.
The fourth goal is developing and deploying effective deterrents. Gansler listed biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, urban combat and information warfare as likely threats and called them priority issues.
Lastly, the United States must achieve interoperability with its allies. "We must ensure that their technologies complement those of our forces," Gansler said. New communication terminals recently arrived at the Pentagon that also are used by France, Spain, Italy and Germany. "This was a success story of international armies cooperation and interoperability in action," he added.
"Although our military is unquestionably the strongest in the world, our defense establishment is labored under outdated and outmoded policies, procedures and infrastructures designed to deal with Cold War threats," Gansler said. The Defense Reform Initiative, announced in November, is changing the way DoD does business, and is helping the department thrive in the global marketplace, he said.
The initiative calls for a DoD that's leaner, more competitive and more efficient in its business practices. The plan's goal is to save money for modernization muscle by cutting fat -- excess staff, redundant functions and infrastructure.