Qioptiq logo Raytheon Global MilSatCom


by Scott R. Gourley

As these pages go to press, multiple industry teams are
awaiting the U.S. Army’s announcement of the contract
award for the Objective Force Warrior (OFW) Lead
Technology Integrator (LTI). The award announcement,
which is expected no later than 15 July 2002, will put the
OFW onto a parallel path with the recently awarded Future
Combat System (FCS) Lead Systems Integrator (LSI)

Stated simply: The Objective Force Warrior will be that
individual on the ground who will be supported by the
elements of Future Combat System.

Army representatives provided an overview of OFW
concepts and plans during a Pentagon briefing in late May.

“For those of you that are not familiar with the ‘Objective
Force’ and our transition to it, it is the new force and
formation that will be brought on line in conjunction with
[Army Chief of Staff] General Shinseki’s vision of
transforming our Army to a lighter, lethal and faster
deliverable overall Army into theater,” explained Mr. Dutch
DeGay, Project Manager, for the Objective Force Warrior
Program at the U.S. Army’s Soldier, Biological and
Chemical Command (SBCCOM) in Natick, Massachusetts.

“Essentially what General Shinseki said was, historically
we have taken soldiers and we give them equipment and
we continue to give them equipment and evolve their
equipment; what I want you to do is stop, do the mental
analysis up front, and start skin-out and completely rebuild
the soldier as we know it.”

One of the key drivers in the holistic OFW design process
has been a desire to decrease the weight load carried by
the individual soldier. According to DeGay, the historic
external load carried by soldiers, including those soldiers
now operating in Afghanistan, has been in the range of 92 –
105 pounds.

“That external load is other mission essential items,
whether that be cold-weather gear, whether it be
nuclear-biological- chemical gear or other gear associated
with that soldier to allow him to accomplish his mission,”
he said. “What we are trying to do at the very fabric uniform
level is consolidate all those systems into one so we
lessen the overall bulk and weight of the individual soldier.
And that’s throughout the system from head to toe.”

Starting at the head of the complete ensemble, the OFW
Project Manager explained that it included a completely
redesigned helmet system that integrates sensor fusion,
infrared thermal imaging, day / night video cameras,
chemical and biological sensors and ballistic protection in
a helmet that provides the Objective force Warrior with a
broadcast heads-up display.

The combat specific uniform component displayed during
the Pentagon briefing is a multi-function garment
incorporating a suite of physiological status monitors. The
integral monitors provide medics on the battlefield with
information on individual soldier status both before and
after battlefield injuries. The microclimate conditioned
system also provides the ability to either heat or cool the
individual warfighter, a capability that offers significant cube
and weight reduction through the elimination of bulky cold
weather gear. The exterior of the uniform component
features built- in chemical and biological protection layers.

“The entire system, from head to toe, has what we call
‘open architecture,’ DeGay said. “Historically, that’s
something that we’ve only done with platforms — tanks,
Bradleys, Crusaders, those kind of things. We are now
treating the individual soldier with that kind of care and that
kind of investment.”

Along with the notional OFW ensemble, DeGay’s
presentation included an overview of a “robotic mule,” an
unmanned platform that could accompany the Objective
Force Warrior on the battlefield. In addition to assisting
with load carrying fu

Back to article list