|Objective Force to Be `System of Systems' |
Objective Force to Be `System of Systems'
By Joe Burlas, Army News Service.
Washington D.C. -- (ANS) November 14, 2001 -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki may not know exactly what the future Objective Force will look like, but he is sure that it will be built as a networked system of systems, keep the Army from becoming irrelevant and be fielded this decade.
Shinseki made those observations while addressing an Association of the U.S. Army symposium held in Washington Nov. 8-9.
"'I don't know' does not mean 'I don't care,'" Shinseki said in reference to moving Transformation ahead without firm blueprints on the table for the Objective Force. "...The science and technology insights and breakthroughs are being discovered today in labs, workshops and simulations centers all across the country. We're looking for capabilities that will gird a capabilities-based force for the full spectrum of missions we will face in the 21st century."
Shortly after assuming the Army's top leadership position a little more than two years ago, Shinseki announced his vision for a future Objective Force that would be more deployable than current heavy divisions, yet have more lethal firepower than today's airborne and light divisions. The move toward his vision is known as Transformation.
The chief talked about the only map he has permanently placed in his office since he moved in. It depicts the landmass surrounding the Caspian Sea -- including Afghanistan -- in Central Asia. Because of the remoteness and poor lines of communication in the area, Shinseki said it reminded him on a daily basis of the importance of Transformation.
"We must be able to project power anywhere in the world -- not just in the easily accessible areas with multiple air and sea ports of debarkation, but in the most remote, landlocked and infrastructure-poor areas as well," Shinseki said. "That goal was critical as we crafted the Army Vision over two years ago. Our current operations in Central Asia reinforce the need for Objective Force capabilities as we balance this global war against the asymmetrics of international terrorism with the regional threats that demand our attention and a need for conventional warfighting prowess."
The danger of the Army not transforming into a force that can project real sustainable combat power anywhere in the world is the Army becoming irrelevant to national security, he said.
The primary vehicle for Transformation is the yet-to-be-developed Future Combat System. The envisioned FCS will be networked to allow real-time situational awareness and require less logistics and maintenance than current combat systems. It will also be able to operate more effectively in joint operations.
However, Transformation isn't just about new equipment, Shinseki said, it is also about people.
"All the weapons in the world are useless without the intellect, dedication and remarkable sense of duty of the American soldier walking point for our nation," he said. "This is all about our soldiers; they remain the centerpiece of our formations. They are the ones who have won our past wars for 226 years; they are the ones who will win this war; and they will win the wars to come."
Shinseki said he will spend the remaining two years of his tenure as chief of staff of the Army building irreversible momentum to field the Objective Force this decade.
Mentioning last year's annual AUSA symposium where had he first announced the fielding of the controversial black beret, Shinseki got loud laughs when he said that soldiers would not be issued umbrellas or brown aviator jackets in the coming year.