28 Oct 04. Visitors to this year’s AUSA symposium were greeted by stands exhibiting products more akin to pre-Network Centric Warfare events. As one BATTLESPACE source suggested, “NCW may increase efficiency in war but it does not protect the soldier on the ground.” Stands of such companies as Stewart & Stevenson, Oshkosh, United Defense, General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin all demonstrated products which were urgently required for today’s UOR’s; both Raytheon and ITT Industries showed new products which were outside the future requirements of JTRS.
Interestingly the bulk of the briefings centred around immediate requirements with the obvious exception of the Boeing FCS and JTRS briefings.
For the first time in several shows the U.S. soldier and his safety and family came first. The Marshall Award for 2004 was dedicated to the U.S. Soldier, Donald Rumsfeld in his speech to AUSA Members praised the performance of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and their supreme sacrifice. “I never seem to be amazed at these young men and women,” he said. He spoke at length about the coalition but failed to praise his UK allies and the Black watch in particular, who for the first time in U.S, military history (with the possible exception of the Battle of the Bulge) had been called upon to reinforce the U.S. Army. “This is the first time that the U.S. Army has run out of men and money,” one source said. The U.S. Army has increased in size by 30000 men and new Brigades increased from 33-43 and then up to 48.In his acceptance speech for the John W. Dixon Award, Lou Guilliano, ITT Industries’ retiring supremo, paid huge tribute to the men and women of the U.S. defence industry, the industry soldiers, who risk their lives daily in supporting the military in dangerous war situations.
The observations on FCS and JTRS and the huge monetary requirements have caused suggestions amongst some observers that, ‘some big programme has to give’ to pay for the war where $200bn has already been exhausted. A source close to BATTLESPACE suggested that the troubled JSF programme could be a target for cuts. “The F-22 has been kept in the frame to ensure another baseline airfare for a series of aircraft if JSF fails,” he said. This possibility should send shivers down the spine of JSF member nations; particularly the UK which has invested £1bn in the project.
Tony Blair and his UK Government colleagues have a lot to learn from AUSA and its tribute to the men and women in the Armed Forces and Industry. DSEI, the UK’s shop window for defence products, is very much more clinical in its approach to the shop-window approach. DSEI is advertised as an exhibition for defence products from international companies and governments. Little heed is paid to the men and women in the industry and indeed we have had very little praise from Geoff Hoon for the soldiers in Iraq who have had a huge cut in capability by the government at a time when they are required to make a bigger commitment to Iraq. Perhaps a bit more tact in the announcement of the deployment of the Black Watch and a delay in the amalgamation of Scottish Regiments could have averted the PR disaster, which resulted. In addition the disgraceful broadcast of the movements and route of the British troops by CNN brought no comment form the Government. The macabre cartoon in the Times portraying the ‘return of the troops by Christmas’ on a stretcher, is hopefully just that.