Future Combat Systems, for Army of today and tomorrow

The secretary of defense recently stated, “The kinds of capabilities we will most likely need in the years ahead will often resemble the kinds of capabilities we need today.” While we must retain the ability to deter and defeat a traditional threat in a general war, the most likely deployments will require capabilities and precision effects to conduct operations among populations, including irregular warfare, peace operations and humanitarian assistance, as the centerpiece of a joint, interagency, intergovernmental, multinational whole-of-government approach.

Future Combat Systems (FCS) is the modernization program that ensures the Army remains capable and effective across the spectrum of conflict. FCS is not about technology only for a future adversary. FCS is the integration of technology to empower the soldier to achieve dominance by producing precision effects for operations amongst and about populations today and tomorrow. FCS is about winning today’s wars, deterring potential adversaries, and defeating future opponents.

FCS enables soldiers and leaders to counter adaptive adversaries while simultaneously protecting the population. Linking sensors, shooters, and command and control systems, Soldiers can better determine friend from foe, eliminate threats with little or no collateral damage, assist indigenous security forces, and conduct stability operations ... all at the same time. FCS greatly improves the sharing of information across our formations that is essential for stability operations and supporting the whole-of-government approach required to win the complex challenges we face in Iraq and Afghanistan today, and the complex challenges of tomorrow.

Soldiers in contact today are demanding improved force protection, lethality, information technology, enhanced command and control, and increased mobility with reduced logistical requirements. FCS directly addresses these operational needs. FCS provides greater agility, lethality and protection for irregular warfare, the precision required for operations among the population, and the versatility to sustain operations, across the spectrum of conflict, in austere environments.

Network-enabled operations, linking sensors and weapons systems from across the joint force to the individual soldier, provide the ability to see, develop and dominate the situation by seizing the initiative, and dictating operational tempo. This unprecedented situational awareness empowers the soldier to safely enter an unknown building, drive down a street and identify or diffuse an IED, or ensure humanitarian assistance gets to those in most critical need in spite of potential hazards.

FCS is not a concept on some engineer’s drafting table — it is here now. The micro air vehicle, the PacBot, advanced armor frag kits, and countermine change detection sensors, among others, are employed in Iraq and Afghanistan today with resounding success. Elements from FCS are already saving lives, increasing soldier and unit effectiveness, and making a difference in today’s war.

The kind of Army we need for tomorrow is the kind of Army we need today — FCS enabled. With the support of Office of the Defense Secretary, the other services, and Congress, the full suite of these needed capabilities can be made reality.

Fort Monroe, Va.

Rahm’s raw recruits

From Howard Lohmuller

(Regarding article, “Political tough guy wants you to meet his inner wonk,” June 24.) Reporter Mike Soraghan left out of Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s (D-Ill.) bio his most important achievement. The congressman was able to recruit Democratic candidates for office in conservative districts who campaigned as conservatives, defeating their Republican opponents and giving the Democrats control of Congress in 2006. When elected, these freshmen were easily brought under control and voted with the liberal leadership in Congress.

Seabrook, Texas