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Army Accelerates Future Combat System

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 22, 2004 – For the Army, the future is now.

Army officials are accelerating the delivery of selected future combat systems to the current force. Under the program, the Army will speed up deployment of some segments of the system. They will begin reaching the field is fiscal 2008, rather than in fiscal 2014.

"We are an Army at war for a nation at war," said Lt. Gen. Benjamin Griffin, the Army's deputy chief of staff for force development. "The technological improvements inherent in the future combat systems can and should be incorporated into the current forces as they become available.

In addition, the number of brigades equipped with future combat systems technology will speed up. The first FCS unit will be fielded in fiscal 2008, with 32 brigades so equipped by fiscal 2014. Under the old plan, the first unit was set for 2012.

"The Army is committed to providing our soldiers the best equipment possible and the future combat systems will remain the cornerstone of the Army's transformational program," Griffin said.

The service took the lessons learned from combat actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, he noted, and applied them to the future combat system. "These changes will mature and accelerate the most promising technologies within the FCS," Griffin said. The systems will cost $92 billion through 2014, officials said. The money to speed up the deployment comes from the canceled Comanche helicopter and Crusader artillery systems, Army officials said.

The five technologies that will be accelerated are the non-line-of sight cannon, the non-line-of-site launch system, the unattended ground sensors, two classes of unmanned aerial vehicles and armed robotic vehicles.

At the system's heart is an integrated network that gives unprecedented situational awareness to soldiers. The move will increase the connectivity and intelligence sharing within combat formations, Griffin said. This "spiral development" approach allows the Army to incorporate technological developments as new technologies mature, while allowing the Army to work on how to incorporate the changes in the new brigade combat teams.

"We are already growing that network," said Lt. Gen. Joseph Yakovac, military deputy to the assistant Army secretary for acquisition, logistics and technology. "When the 3rd Infantry Division goes back to Iraq, they will have a much different networking capability than they had when they went north (to Baghdad) the first time."

Part of what is driving this is the hothouse growth of technology. Yakovac cited the growth of wireless technologies as an example. The Army now, for example, has a tactical operations center running wireless.

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