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Thread: FCS in future conflicts

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Default FCS in future conflicts

    I’m relatively new to SWJ and was asked by Granite State in the “Tell Us About You2” thread to discuss FCS and small wars. As an add on, there is some good FCS discussion in the “Army Future: Invade Azerbaijan” thread. So, I’m providing some insights into the FCS brigade combat team (FBCT) capabilities and how this modernization program is leveraging and infusing technology to the current force.

    Today and tomorrow's operating environment (OE) require currently undefined levels of security for not only successful military operations, but also for partner nations to thrive in other areas relative to security and national power. That said, the adversary will seek to deter US involvement, isolate the US from local support or allies, and block the entrance to the country in which they are operating or lure us into “their zone.” Adding complexity to the OE are adversaries who have “gone to school” on US operations including protracted, simultaneous, full spectrum operations in difficult and diverse terrain (urban). Fueling the fire even more is that the adversary in some cases has niche capabilities better than ours, is a master of IO, and abides by no rules. This was borne out by the recent Herzbollah/IDF war in which the fight was on complex terrain in “their zone”; relying on low visibility and prepared defenses; and, with secured LOCs enabling Hezbollah to mass rockets, ATGMs, RPGs, and mortars.

    Enter the FBCT, which is designed for complex urban environments. Compared to the HBCT it has 10X more unmanned assets, 6X more sensors (which are all networked), 2X more infantry soldiers (boots on the ground), and is 3X more reliable and maintainable. The eight variants of the MGV have increased lethality and survivability, are chemical and bio hardened, have a 360 degree hemispheric active protection system, are the primary node for sharing information, and carry most of the FBCT’s sensors. Insights from the OMNI FUSION 2007 COIN experiment documented that tactical FBCT formations are more survivable and lethal than current tactical units in the COIN urban environment (can provide more insight if needed).

    At the tactical level of operations the FBCT has:
    - Self-contained units with reliable equipment and greater situational awareness, do not need operational pauses, thus keeping continuous pressure on adversaries
    - Multi-layered, unmanned ground and air systems dramatically increasing situational awareness and reach, and increased force protection by doing more of the dangerous and dirty jobs.
    - Battle command on the move; more robust staffs dealing with the full range of military operations.
    - High situational awareness available at the lowest levels empowering all leaders.
    - Smaller footprint due to greater reach-back and more reliable equipment.
    - Combat units are fully networked; interdependent land forces leveraging all Joint capabilities.
    - Mitigating our increased difficulty in concealing our intentions (surprise).

    Testimony from recently deployed Soldiers who participated in FCS Experiment 1.1 held at Ft. Bliss/WSMR indicated that the equipment used during the experiment could be used in theater now including the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV), Class I UAV, and tactical and urban unattended ground sensors (T-UGS/U-UGS). On 22 July 2004, Army officials announced plans to accelerate the delivery of selected FBCT capabilities to the Current Force. The Army will accelerate fielding of select FBCT capabilities (called Spin Outs) to reduce operational risk to the Current Force. Spin Out 1 (SO 1) will initiate testing in FY08 and consist of prototypes issued to the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF) for their use and evaluation. Following successful evaluation, production and fielding of SO 1 will commence to Current Force units. SO 1 will include T-UGS/U-UGS, NLOS-LS, JTRS, and Integrated Computer “B-Kit” for Abrams, Bradley, and HMMWV. This process allows FCS capabilities being put in soldier’s hands sooner than the core program current schedule. SO 2 will initiate its testing in FY 2010 and will consist of the integration of the program’s Active Protection Systems (APS), the Manned Ground Vehicle Mast Mounted Sensor to Stryker, the SUGV, and the Class I UAV. SO 3 will initiate testing in FY 2012. This SO will leverage heavily on core program events. SO 3 will include these FCS systems: Armed Robotic Vehicle –Assault- Light, Class IV UAV, and FCS Battle Command Network that will replace current ABCS in current force operation centers. The FCS network will benefit not just the Army, but the entire joint force, which will also be network-enabled.

    The Army’s FCS approach is the most effective way to leverage current resources in order to modernize the force and to maintain readiness while investing in programs that extend U.S. military advantages into the future. As CSA GEN Casey has observed, the cost of modernizing is measured in dollars; the failure to modernize too often is measured in lives. Without FCS modernization, the Army will get new equipment, but no new capabilities. Our Soldiers absolutely require new capabilities to prevail against a learning and adaptive enemy who is not standing still.

    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

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    Default

    Thanks for the thread, but to simplify a bit, I understand the FCS is a "system of systems", as you mentioned, but the core combat platforms are medium armor, not unlike the Stryker, is that right? Given the prevelance and dramatically increased firepower (IEDs, EFPs, ATGMs w/ Hezbollah) of our non-state adversaries, has there been some re-evaluation of heavy armor and the usefulness of the "Legacy Force"?

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    The FCS manned ground vehicle (MGV), of which there are eight variants, is a new family of networked vehicles with enhanced armor and protection technology, and next-generation survivability and sustainability features. Enhanced armor will be located on the entore vehicle to enhace survivability from IEDs and RPGs. Additionally, each MGV comes with an APS. MGVs have a common chassis, high-density diesel engine, hybird-electric drive, and band track.

    The NLOS-C will be the first of the eight MGV variants to be developed and fielded as part of the FCS program. Plans call for 18 NLOS-C initial production platforms to be delivered between fiscal years 2010 and 2012 at a rate of six per year.

    Currently, the Army plans on fielding 15 FBCTs. The remainder of the Army's BCTs (71) will be comprised of HBCTs, IBCTs, and SBCTs. All BCTs will be networked with the FBCT's battle command network.

    So the "Legacy Force" will not be going away.

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    Council Member CSC2005's Avatar
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    Question Fcs

    Am I the only one that thinks the original post was written by a defense contractor for FCS? I smell SAIC:

    :

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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default Be careful...

    Quote Originally Posted by CSC2005 View Post
    Am I the only one that thinks the original post was written by a defense contractor for FCS? I smell SAIC:

    :
    I resemble that remark .

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    All good bumper stickers - however, the effectiveness of the platforms, payloads, SoS, etc. all depend on the quality of the people who crew, use fight, interface with the GUIs, conduct operations in, from and around them, and most of all lead soldiers against tough enemies in challenging enviornments where technology does not solve all the problems and sometimes even encmbers us.

    From one of the UAEE/FBCT-EE plank holders I'm hoping we wind up with the right tools. With the quality of some of the folks like COL Schaill, I believe we'll do OK.

    As for contractors - I just consider that "life after" - although I'm still a few years shy

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    Council Member MountainRunner's Avatar
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    Default FCS and the real Information Age war

    Kreker,
    That's a great narrative, but how does it fit with the reality of interfacing with people on the ground in a time where even the HMMWV is seen as less useful than the classic open air jeep?

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    There's no way in hell that 15 EBCT/FBCT's are activated. A single FCS equipped BCT costs well into the mutiple BILLION dollar range. Hell, a Stryker BCT costs $1.2B.

    This is the fallacy of the Army and FCS - they continue to expect to have these massive defense budgets with gigantic procurement programs. Hell, the FCS program was just tagged with an additional $13B rise in costs, now bringing it up to $174B for the entire program.

    And as Mountain Runner states, it isn't even going to be that useful outside a high intensity conflict. A buried 500lb bomb will blow one of these to hell like any other vehicle.

    I've read the argument about why FCS is needed - to counter hyper-kinetic rounds. We can't even get LOSAT right, and that sucker is 9 feet long and almost 200 pounds.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Council Member MountainRunner's Avatar
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    Default survey

    FYI: In the spirit of this thread, over in another part of SWC I posted this link to a brief survey on robots in war. Thanks in advance for filling out the survey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    There's no way in hell that 15 EBCT/FBCT's are activated. A single FCS equipped BCT costs well into the mutiple BILLION dollar range. Hell, a Stryker BCT costs $1.2B.

    This is the fallacy of the Army and FCS - they continue to expect to have these massive defense budgets with gigantic procurement programs. Hell, the FCS program was just tagged with an additional $13B rise in costs, now bringing it up to $174B for the entire program.

    And as Mountain Runner states, it isn't even going to be that useful outside a high intensity conflict. A buried 500lb bomb will blow one of these to hell like any other vehicle.
    That's my fear in a nutshell.

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Default Soldier as a System (SaaS)

    Quote Originally Posted by MountainRunner View Post
    Kreker,
    That's a great narrative, but how does it fit with the reality of interfacing with people on the ground in a time where even the HMMWV is seen as less useful than the classic open air jeep?
    Good Day MountainRunner,
    Good question. The FBCT ground Soldier (all Soldiers serving in close combat, maneuver support, and maneuver sustainment systems who fight outside there FCS vehicles) ensemble features the same software capabilities, networked communications, and embedded training as found on the vehicles. As a minimum, each Soldier system is able to integrate a Soldier radio that can communicate as well as interact with sensor fields, UAVs, UGVs, and networked fires. Leaders have additional capability. The Soldier radio enables the Soldier to transmit and receive digital messages, orders, reports, and graphics. The radio can send and receive digital, voice, text, video, pictures, operational graphics, and overlays. The Soldier will be interoperable with current (legacy) and future C2 systems, as well as Joint, Interagency, and Multinational C2 systems. Will have to wait and see about the latter. This may not have fully addressed your question. Again, PM FCS is incorporating lessons learned from the ME, so I would hope that a Soldier being on the ground interfacing with HN forces, civilians, refugees, and displaced civilians, will have the means to interoperate/support the mission requirement.

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWJED View Post
    I resemble that remark .
    This thread started with a question from Granite State based on my background input, which stated I was a defense contractor working FCS...not SAIC or Boeing. That said, I've spent the last 36 years working for the Army. I take great pride in that institution and try to do the best of my ability and beyond for today's Soldiers...for they are the ones carrying the load.

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ski View Post
    There's no way in hell that 15 EBCT/FBCT's are activated. A single FCS equipped BCT costs well into the mutiple BILLION dollar range. Hell, a Stryker BCT costs $1.2B.

    This is the fallacy of the Army and FCS - they continue to expect to have these massive defense budgets with gigantic procurement programs. Hell, the FCS program was just tagged with an additional $13B rise in costs, now bringing it up to $174B for the entire program.

    And as Mountain Runner states, it isn't even going to be that useful outside a high intensity conflict. A buried 500lb bomb will blow one of these to hell like any other vehicle.

    I've read the argument about why FCS is needed - to counter hyper-kinetic rounds. We can't even get LOSAT right, and that sucker is 9 feet long and almost 200 pounds.
    Ski,
    I only state the facts as I know them. What the future holds is anyones best guess. As of today, the Army leadership supports FCS. It's the Army's major modernization program. To put it in perspective funding wise across DOD it is the ONLY
    Army program in the top 10!

    Don't know where you can up with the additonal $13B.

    Yes, a 500lb buried bomb will blow up an FCS vehicle. But, hopefully with the sensor array, UGVs, UAVs, that 500lb bomb will be detected, either during emplacement or prior to contact.

    Thanks for the opportunity to dialogue.

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    Default FCS Resilience

    Hi Kekar,

    Thank you for addressing the issue of FCS (a recent report said that the Army has come up with a new name but so far has not released what this is).

    A question I have is how resilient is the FCS? This question arises from its ‘system of systems’ concept. A general argument is that the more complicated an interdependent system, the more likely it is that something will not work or go wrong, and the greater the possibility of a resultant damaging cascade across the system. I know you said that ‘tactical FBCT formations are more survivable … than current tactical units in the COIN urban environments’. Nonetheless, a question has to be to what degree is it possible, or even likely, that the functional elimination or even reduced capability of parts of the system could lead to substantial system degradation or even system failure?

    I am not purely thinking of the consequences of lethal combat, but also the possible (probable?) use of electronic counter measures by an opponent. The possibly of the FCS networked system being seriously degraded or even collapsing in the midst of combat is a terrible prospect.

    Thanks!

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TT View Post
    Hi Kekar,

    Thank you for addressing the issue of FCS (a recent report said that the Army has come up with a new name but so far has not released what this is).

    A question I have is how resilient is the FCS? This question arises from its ‘system of systems’ concept. A general argument is that the more complicated an interdependent system, the more likely it is that something will not work or go wrong, and the greater the possibility of a resultant damaging cascade across the system. I know you said that ‘tactical FBCT formations are more survivable … than current tactical units in the COIN urban environments’. Nonetheless, a question has to be to what degree is it possible, or even likely, that the functional elimination or even reduced capability of parts of the system could lead to substantial system degradation or even system failure?

    I am not purely thinking of the consequences of lethal combat, but also the possible (probable?) use of electronic counter measures by an opponent. The possibly of the FCS networked system being seriously degraded or even collapsing in the midst of combat is a terrible prospect.

    Thanks!
    Hi TT,
    The Army plans on releasing the new name at the AUSA National Convention in October.

    On your second and third points, the Battle Command Network (BCN) is an interconnected, end-to-end set of information capabilities, associated processes, and personnel for collecting, processing, displaying, disseminating, storing and managing information on demand to warfighters, policy makers and support personnel. That said, the BCN dependability results from the network’s redundant, multilayered architecture, reliability of network components, and the network’s capability to withstand attack. Not only is the network dependable and secure, but it is to be self-configuring, self-healing, and survivable. I’ve included a word document that provides a basic overview of the BCN.

    Thanks.
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Council Member Anthony Hoh's Avatar
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    Kreker,
    My problem with this kind of technology is that the "Army" wont find the time to train the analog methods. As an OC I have followed the SSG that could not do simple mounted land navigation due to his dependace on the BFT. This unnamed Soldier had taken this route twice before. We made multiple "route corrections" and by 3 oclock in the morning I was ready for him to hook his tow bar to my vechile and drag me around the "box" at his lesiure. Super cool guy technology is great. But it will fail me. Technology still has to be fielded by the right people. I feel as if the Army is trying to overcome the soft underbelly of the Nintendo generation with technology. When what Soldiers need is tougher realistic training with no batteries included. Are any of the technology experts talking about how much training time will be consumed by mastering these imporved digital systems? And will their be time for me to teach a SSG how to do terrain association on a map? I have seen the FCS video at the last AUSA convention. I admit its cool and it briefs well. I have seen some of the stuff upclose, as we have an RDECOM rep next door to me. However I feel lethality needs to take a backseat to personality in a COIN enviroment. Give me 1.2B and I would teach every Soldier in the Army basic Arabic now that would save lives.

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    Council Member Kreker's Avatar
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    Hi Anthony,
    You bring up very valid questions and concerns. I don't have the answers. I will say that the FCS program is the first procurement that includes training as one of its key perfomance parameters. Which means that training receives equal attention to the other KPPs (e.g., networked BC, survivability, networked lethality, sustainability/reliability). Embedded training is to be present on all FCS platforms. For the MGVs the crew will have access to databased TSPs, to conduct training on their platform in a LVC environment. There are also to be CCTT like trainers in the FBCT. The crew can use the TSPs or they can modify conditions within a TSP to adjust the difficulty during training or build a TSP to support a mission rehearsal.

    That doesn't answer the mail on training in an analog environment, unless planned and resourced in the schoolhouses, units, and CTCs, which falls on the leadership to make it happen.

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    Default Resilience

    Kreker,

    Thank you for the explanation. If it all works as hoped, then resilience may not an issue. I for one tend to be a bit sceptical about claims made for immature future technologies, particularly when the tech package is as complicated and forward leaning as the FCS system is. But only time will tell.

    TT

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    Council Member Anthony Hoh's Avatar
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    Kreker,
    Thanks for the prompt response. I understand some may consider the analog training as a obviously necessary componet. I just dont hear any "buzz" about it, so I worry an EM charge will render the Army of the future useless. I hope when the TSP's are developed "they" take the time to show several was to manage and in some cases work around or without our digital systems.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    Kreker,

    What's your make on this?

    http://www.cdi.org/friendlyversion/p...ocumentID=4058

    The program was initiated as an attempt to find the means for the Army to rapidly deploy overwhelming combat power in response to overseas crises. FCS vehicles were intended to weigh less and require less logistical support than current heavy weapons while retaining the same, or better, levels of lethality and survivability.

    The Army’s goals for FCS networking architecture are: to augment connectivity inside Army units and with other services, to increase situational awareness and understanding on the battlefield and to further synchronize operations. The idea is that superior information will allow soldiers to hit their enemy first instead of relying on heavy armor to withstand a hit. Put another way, the concept assumes lighter armor is an acceptable trade off for more communications and computers because the network will routinely permit soldiers to find, identify and kill enemy anti-armor systems before they have a chance to attack. Based on the deployment of prototypical systems in Iraq since the beginning of the war there, analysts at CDI are unaware that this concept has achieved even rudimentary feasibility. Indeed, the devastating success of enemy IEDs and EFPs in Iraq has led to the deployment of heavier armor, not lighter, and an acknowledgement that the enemy rarely permits itself to be found and identified by sensor hardware.
    Posted today at DefenseTech.

    I have to admit, even as an Armor guy I'm a skeptic of the FCS from what I have been briefed - how much armor are we looking at, and what kind of direct fire systems will be incorporated?

    After Iraq, most of the FCS assumptions I was presented at CCC in 2001 seem to have been obliterated by reality in Iraq ....
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