FT. BLISS, TX — The Army’s Future Combat Systems could one day provide
networking and command and control capabilities — along with applications for
information operations — that would play important roles in both disaster response
and counterinsurgency missions as the service adjusts its doctrine to place greater
emphasis on stability efforts, according to key Army technology evaluators.

“Imagine if you had these capabilities . . . in some of these [FCS] manned ground
variant vehicles for hurricane Katrina,” Brig. Gen. James Terry, director of the
Future Force Integration Directorate, told reporters here May 21.

A reconnaissance squadron could fly unmanned aerial vehicles around a disaster
area and provide data, via the FCS network, to inform government decision makers
at various levels and agencies, he explained.

“This is a whole-government approach that we talk about in FM 3-0,” Terry said,
referring to Army Field Manual 3-0, which shifts emphasis from conventional
operations to a “full spectrum” that places post-conflict stability operations on par
with offensive and defensive engagements.

“The other component of this full-spectrum operations . . . is the information
environment,” he added. FCS, Terry believes, will enable soldiers at lower echelons
to conduct information engagements in domestic natural disasters as well as
combat theaters.

“The [information operations] campaign is huge in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lt.
Col. Ed House, commander of a combined arms battalion with the Army Evaluation
Task Force (AETF) — a unit charged with assessing and helping develop doctrine for

As an example of how FCS equipment might be employed for information
operations in those theaters, the Army can use high-resolution video footage
recorded from a Class I Block 0 unmanned aerial vehicle during a mission to prove
that a destroyed structure was in fact an ammunition depot, when insurgents claim
it was a school or hospital, House said in a briefing to reporters the same day.

“You can project that up to the counterinsurgency level — you go visit the local
tribal elder [and] show him what actually is happening,” Terry explained. “It’s
pretty powerful when you talk about our doctrine and how Future Combat Brigades
and Future Combat Systems play in that.”

Also, by utilizing the FCS network, platoon leaders conducting raids or cordon-and-
search missions would be able to immediately post pictures of suspected enemies
on the network, which other network subscribers could then help identify as friend
or foe, according to House.

Currently, soldiers must upload photos to a computer and “e-mail it, basically, over
the secure net, which might take us four, five, six hours,” he said.

A complete FCS network, as well as the program’s command and control manned
ground vehicles, are not expected to be fielded for another few years. The Class I
Block 0 UAV, however, will be assessed by the AETF this fall and service officials
could order its earlier fielding based on the task forces’ feedback, the Army says.

The UAV — along with the small unmanned ground vehicle — was originally
scheduled to begin formal testing by the AETF in 2011, but positive feedback from
theater, as well as the current technology readiness levels, prompted top Army
officials to direct its accelerated evaluation and fielding.

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