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1 Mar 02. The U.S. Army will take the next step in its transformation into a lighter, lethal and more deployable force when it names a lead system integrator to bring together the technologies to be used in its future combat system.

Claude Bolton, assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology, told over 1,400 defense industry leaders at the Association of the United States Army’s science and technology symposium Feb. 27 that a contract will be awarded to a company or team of companies that will serve as the lead systems integrator in about a week and a half.

Bolton, calling science and technology “the key enablers to the Objective Force and beyond,” said the Army has an “optimistic view” about the future combat system “because we’re not sure what it’s going to look like.

“We’re going to be asking a lot of ‘why’s between now and the Objective Force,” Bolton said, and added that transformation is “the next evolutionary change for all the military, not just the Army.”

Bolton said developing technologies including directed energy, robotics and quantum computers are evolving that will give soldiers an unfair advantage in the battlefield.

Referring to quantum computer technology that can process hundreds of millions of operations per second, Bolton said the Army wants to know “how we’re going to us it and be sure soldiers are not vulnerable to it.”

Bolton also told defense industry leaders about the Army systems that on top of his priority list.

He called the Comanche reconnaissance helicopter—the first Objective Force vehicle—a “fantastic machine” and needs to be fielded by the Army as soon as possible.

“I think we’re on good footing, and we’re going to press on to make this happen,” Bolton said.

He also said the Crusader indirect fire system—with its ability to provide fire support twice as fast as the Army’s current [Paladin] system ,will give soldiers a distinct advantage in battle and allow soldiers operating the Crusader to better understand the operational environment around them.

Gen. Paul Kern, commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, said the science and technology the Army is working on should support soldiers and current systems in the force to ensure they’re prepared to fight today.

“We have to figure out these problems today to increase battle effectiveness,” Kern said, adding that life cycle costs and the industrial base supporting the Army all play a role.

Collaboration within the Army and Defense Department research and development agencies as well as defense industries will also sustain the force, he said.

Kern also called for industry to use best business practices to streamline the development of technologies and to break through stovepipes.

“You must truly understand how all these come together,” Kern said. “All those resources have to be linked together in order to reach the Objective Force.”

Bolton said the Army must change the way it does business, as well.

“There are some changes that need to be made, and we are going to make them,” Bolton said. “Our task will be to clearly tell industry what we want.”

With U.S. forces active in operations around the world in the war on terror, and Iraq, Iran and North Korea being labeled an “Axis of Evil” by President Bush during his State of the Union address, Bolton said that there are no natural laws that say America will always have the strongest military in the world.

“I challenge you and myself to make this happen,” Bolton said, “to keep the U.S. and its military the most powerful.”

The Army’s number two civilian told defense industry leaders that there are important lessons for today from the Army&

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