Future Combat

By Marjorie Censer / January 21, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The Army's Future Combat Systems effort will support a full-spectrum Army, according to the service's chief of staff.

Gen. George Casey, in an interview in the most recent issue of Joint Force Quarterly, acknowledges that the program was designed with conventional warfare in mind but says it has been useful in current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In particular, he said the Land Warrior system is providing soldiers with greatly enhanced situational awareness.

“I visited (a battalion) there, and they said that they would rather leave the compound without their weapons than without their Land Warrior system,” Casey writes.

He explains that seeing soldiers in Iraq using the equipment pushed him to restructure the FCS program, which will now be fielded first to infantry brigade combat teams, rather than to heavy brigade combat teams as originally planned.

“So we're doing that, and we'll have it in the hands of the light Soldiers in 2011,” Casey says. “The first brigade, which means probably the last of the 'Grow the Army' brigades that we build, will be outfitted with the FCS systems and the first increment of the network, and we'll continue to build the rest of the systems over time.”

He said the restructured format represents a move “in the right direction, and what we're going to see now is not just 15 FCS brigades that come out of this, but we're going to have an FCS-enabled Army, and it will start with the infantry guys, and that will be a fundamentally different Army.

“What you're going to see also is the FCS capabilities overlaid on modular organizations, and that's what the Army of the 21st century will ultimately look like,” he continues. “We're still refining that, but simplistically said, that's what's going to happen. It will be a full-spectrum Army.”