This is an important article. I encourage you to read the whole article if you have time. I believe the funding of Future Combat systems to be of paramount importance to our future defense.
The Army’s plan to transform itself into a futuristic high-technology force has become so expensive that some of the military’s strongest supporters in Congress are questioning the program’s costs and complexity.
Army officials said Saturday that the first phase of the program, called Future Combat Systems, could run to $145 billion. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman, said the “technological bridge to the future” would equip 15 brigades of roughly 3,000 soldiers, or about one-third of the force the Army plans to field, over a 20-year span.
“We’re dealing today with a train wreck,” Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said at a March 16 Congressional hearing on the cost and complexity of Future Combat Systems.
Army officials say the task is a technological challenge as complicated as putting an astronaut on the moon. They call Future Combat weapons, which may take more than a decade to field, crucial for a global fight against terror.
The Army has canceled two major weapons programs, the Crusader artillery system and the Comanche helicopter, “to protect funding for the Future Combat System,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and a member of the Armed Services Committee. “That is why we have to get the F.C.S. program right.”
The Army wants Future Combat to be a smaller, faster force than the one now fighting in Iraq. Tanks, mobile cannons and personnel carriers would be made so light that they could be flown to a war zone. But first they must be stripped of heavy armor. In place of armor, American soldiers in combat would be protected by information systems, so they could see and kill the enemy before being seen and killed, Army officials say.
Future Combat soldiers, weapons and robots are to be linked by a $25 billion web, Joint Tactical Radio Systems, known as JTRS (pronounced “jitters”). The network would transmit the battlefield information intended to protect soldiers. It is not included in the Future Combat budget.
That doubt may damage a conceptual underpinning for Future Combat: the ability to deploy armed forces quickly in a crisis. Unless the weapons are as light as advertised, they will have to arrive in a theater of war by ship.
The challenge for the Army and Boeing is to build “an entirely new Army, reconfigured to perform the global policing mission,” said Gordon Adams, a former director for national security spending at the Office of Management and Budget, “and that is enormously expensive.”
Mr. Rumsfeld told the House Defense Appropriations subcommittee last month about the challenge of remaking an Army in the middle of a war. “Abraham Lincoln once compared reorganizing the Union Army during the Civil War to bailing out the Potomac River with a teaspoon,” he said. “I hope and trust that what we are proposing to accomplish will not be that difficult.”