The United States Government is working on developing a new, high tech army, that will rely on advanced communications and information technology,
rather than armor, to fight. While the concept of keeping our troops out of harms way during a battle is quite appealing to many people, the costs of
devloping this system are far more than was bargained for.
The Army's publicly disclosed cost estimates for Future Combat stood at $92 billion last month. That excluded research and development, which the
G.A.O. says will run to $30 billion. Mr. Boyce, the Army spokesman, said on Saturday that Future Combat costs were estimated at $25 billion for
research and development and from $6.1 billion to $8 billion for each of 15 future brigades, or as high as $145 billion.
The Army wants Future Combat to be a smaller, faster force than the one now fighting in Iraq. Tanks, mobile cannons and personnel carriers would be
made so light that they could be flown to a war zone. But first they must be stripped of heavy armor. In place of armor, American soldiers in combat
would be protected by information systems, so they could see and kill the enemy before being seen and killed, Army officials say.
Future Combat soldiers, weapons and robots are to be linked by a $25 billion web, Joint Tactical Radio Systems, known as JTRS (pronounced
"jitters"). The network would transmit the battlefield information intended to protect soldiers. It is not included in the Future Combat budget.
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Redefining the nature of our armed forces in wartime was once likened by Abraham Lincoln to bailing out the Potomac River with a teaspoon. While the
concept of a redefined high-tech fighting force that protects our soldiers by keeping them away from the front lines of battle is quite appealing, the
development and implementation of such a system is proving to be far more difficult.
Of the 53 crucial technologies needed for this system, 52 are unproven. The current estimates of up to $145 billion for research and development,
construction, implementation, and future outfitting of additional units, are often thought to be too modest to accurately describe the actual costs of
Development of this system is far behind the originally desired timeline. With it falling behind as it is, costs will only soar higher, with lower
results to show for the spending.
International Herald Tribune
[edit on 29-3-2005 by obsidian468]