Cebrowski praises changes to Army's Future Combat Systems plans

The Army's realignment of its Future Combat Systems plans represents a change "from a monolithic program to a strategy," retired Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski said this morning at the Naval-Industry R&D Partnership Conference in Washington.

"It doesn't make a lot of sense to say we'll have all these FCS capabilities at once at some future date," said Cebrowski, who heads the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation.

Instead, the Army should "pull in some of the elements to the operational force today. They're not ready yet, and we need experience with the networking and software." The shift, he said, will advance development, improve stability and help the troops learn faster.

Because current and future wars have noncontiguous battlefields, he said, the military needs a "hugging strategy, connecting to enemies to gain social intelligence, which is more valuable than military intelligence" in fighting terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Cebrowski said the Defense Department will increasingly equip smaller forces with radios and a mix of lethal and nonlethal, active and passive weapons, based on techniques learned from public safety and police departments.

Project Sheriff, he said, is experimenting with vehicles designed for urban peacekeeping under a program managed by the Navy. "The police reached for that a long time before we did," he said.

The Stryker Brigade program is "doing very well," he said'not so much because of the vehicles as because of the networked structure. "The soldiers offload their packs and arrive more ready to fight, physically and mentally," he said.

Among other innovations DOD is looking at are so-called ultralarge airlifter aircraft that can deliver supplies to scattered forces on land or sea, space-based robotic aircraft that can land automatically on carriers, and multipurpose ships that can travel with large payloads faster than 60 knots, eluding torpedoes.

Because intelligence is being collected faster and in huge quantities, he said, "We need to automate the triage and automate the analysis. We'll all become analysts" and remedy the intelligence shortfall found by the 9/11 Commission.

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