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28 Feb 03. The U.S. Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki gave a rousing speech rounding off an excellent AUSA Winter Symposium where the main focus of attention was the Future Combat System and military transformation.

“The Army finds itself at war and transforming, we are doing both well,” Shinseki told his audience, “220,000 troops are deployed in 120 countries and 125,000 reservists have been mobilized at a time when the Army is busier and smaller than it has been for forty years.”

He confirmed that the first Stryker Brigade would be fielded by this spring and committed himself to the procurement of all 6 brigades at a time when a number of observers suggested that 4 would be the maximum.

“Three and a half years ago we were told by our planners that war was coming, but from where we were unsure. To be ready for this threat we needed to transform the Army and we told industry that we couldn’t transform without them sharing the risk with us. We developed a strategy for fundamental and comprehensive change for the entire institution. We were told that it would take 8-10 years for an interim force And 18 to form the objective force; I could not accept that and requested much shorter timescales.

We fielded Stryker in three and a half years from concept and we intend to achieve Milestone B in FCS in May. The FCS horizon is closer; we have less than 5 years to get it right. We have an essential trust with industry built over 3 years to hit the long ball.”

“Forces need to be light to respond to chnages in terrorism. We need to get into the operational battlespace, see him better than he sees us, denying him his options. We need to be more agile, deployable, versatile, with a broader range of missions, more lethal survivable and sustainable. We have a host of options available to us across the spectrum including precision manoeuvre and firepower and rapid deployment. This is not the end of transformation The Army is prepared to run and win every time.”

He then went on to discuss the acquisition cycle, saying that this process must be streamlined to enable the fielding of a system-of-systems, not just for the Army but also across all the forces which will have implications for all of us. He said that pursuit of technologies was vital to ensure the investment in new systems particularly the Blue Force Tracking technology recently developed (See NORTHROP GRUMMAN SUPPLIES BRITISH ARMY WITH FBCB2 BFT). C4ISR architectures must exploit all emerging technologies; C4ISR is about battle command and leadership, not technology.

He ended by saying that,” We must ensure that our soldiers remain the most dominant force in the battlespace building on 227 years of self-sacrifice. We have the best led, trained and equipped force in the world, we have the best soldiers.”

The Editor left the hall comparing this rousing speech with the recent nit picking between CDP, The MoD and DPA, the Government and BAE SYSTEMS. Why does the British Government and its instructions adopt a confrontational attitude to defence procurement? The DPA and Sir Robert Walmsley who in his famous ‘pip squeezing’ interview with the Times took the attitude that industry was earning too much from contracting in spite of the fact that profit margins have been capped for years! BAE in particular has acknowledged that its systems integration competence is lacking.

As Shinseki so eloquently said that if industry and business has the trust of the DoD then all factions can work together to bring about success. To encourage fighting and confrontation, the results are less certain; hopefully the Shinseki message has reached the upper echelons of the DPA, MoD and Government and we may see the new CDP giving such a rousing speech which will bring the trust of industry back to defence contracting?

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