Army plans $15b assault

Army
will spend big on digitization



  • Fiscal 1999: $2.6 billion

  • Fiscal 2000: $2.9 billion

  • Fiscal 2001: $2.9 billion

  • Fiscal 2002: $3.1 billion

  • Fiscal 2003: $3.1 billion





The Army has unveiled a five-year plan to spend nearly $15
billion to digitize battlefield operations.


Brig. Gen. William Bond, director of the Army Digitization Office
(ADO), last month sent an action plan to Congress detailing how the service will field its
first digitized division by October 2000 and its first digitized corps by October 2004.


The Army will spend the funds to modernize approximately 97
systems, including those on big-ticket weapons vehicles such as the Apache Longbow attack
helicopter, Kiowa Warrior armed reconnaissance helicopter, Bradley Fighting Vehicle and
Abrams tank, the plan said.


Fielding the Army’s first digitized division and corps will
cost $466 million and $963 million respectively, Bond said. Those estimates do not include
R&D and operations and maintenance costs, he said.


“The greatest challenge facing the total Army as it moves
into the future is balancing today’s readiness and tomorrow’s modernization
requirements with available resources,” Bond said in the report. Funding must be
adequate, sustained and predictable, he said.


The Office of the Secretary of Defense prevented a delay in the
digitization schedule by earmarking $261 million to cover an anticipated funding shortfall
in fiscal 1999.


Digitization under the service’s Force XXI initiative is
designed to increase the Army’s lethality, survivability and operational ability
while reducing deaths from friendly fire, the report said.


The first digitized division—the 4th Infantry Division at
Fort Hood, Texas—will be equipped with command, control and communications systems as
well as sensors and weapons systems platforms.


The division will have the minimum required hardware and software
needed for connectivity on a digital battlefield, Bond said. The Army’s Training and
Doctrine Command set the requirements.


The 4th Infantry Division consists of an armored division with
two armored brigades at Fort Hood and one infantry brigade at Fort Carlson, Colo.


One brigade and the division cavalry squadron at Fort Hood will
have digital capability via computers built into vehicles such as the Abrams tank and
Bradley Fighting Vehicle.


Vehicles in other units will use onboard notebook computers,
called Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below systems.


The FBCB2 notebooks can pinpoint soldiers, vehicles and units,
and send their location and other data via the service’s Tactical Internet.


Tactical operations centers will integrate command and control
systems on a network that receives data from Army Battle Command Systems, including the
Maneuver Control System, Combat Service Support Control System, Advanced Field Artillery
Tactical Data System, All Source Analysis System, and Forward Area Air Defense Command and
Control.


Training is a big part of the Army’s strategy for digitizing
its forces, the report said.


TRADOC will begin providing support and refresher training for
analog and digital tasks between 2002 and 2004.


The Army’s Force XXI initiative relies on the service’s
battle labs and Advanced Warfighting Experiments to demonstrate and evaluate information
technologies.


The Task Force XXI Brigade-Sized AWE in March 1997 at Fort Irwin,
Calif., looked at how the service could design digitized divisions and corps.


Technicians installed the FBCB2 notebooks, known as appliques, in
more than 1,000 tanks, trucks, vehicles and tactical operations centers during the AWE.
The systems provided location reports and C2 messaging.


TRW Inc. in 1995 won a five-year, $282 million contract for FBCB2
systems development.


In a report last year by the Institute for Defense Analyses for
the Pentagon Office of Operational Test & Evaluation concluded that systems were not
ready for combat.


But Lt. Gen. William Campbell, the Army’s director of
information systems for command, control, communications and computers, said the service
has improved the notebooks.


“We made so much progress since the March 1997 Advanced
Warfighting Experiment that the weaknesses identified in the evaluation reports from the
AWE are ancient data points,” he said.


He compared the former and current systems to MS-DOS and
Microsoft Windows, calling the early FBCB2 product used in the AWE a key step in the
evolution to the 21st century FBCB2. 


 

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