Strengthening Today's Army-Building Tomorrow's Force

By Griffin, Benjamin S. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Strengthening Today's Army-Building Tomorrow's Force

Griffin, Benjamin S., Army

The Army remains clearly focused on its highest priority, supporting the magnificent soldiers engaged in the ongoing global war on terrorism, particularly those on the front line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Protecting deployed soldiers and improving their overall capabilities are parts of an enduring mandate. To accomplish them, the Army is maintaining a careful balance between providing readiness for today's force while simultaneously improving capabilities for tomorrow's Army. Throughout this endeavor, G-8 is implementing significant new restructuring initiatives built around modularity and force balance, restoring future readiness for returning forces, applying lessons learned from ongoing operations and incorporating the benefits of emerging technologies as soon as practical.

These efforts are directed toward the overall Army goal of being a relevant and ready campaign-quality force with joint and expeditionary capabilities.

In direct support of an Army at war, the G-8 team coordinates with the Office of the secretary of Defense (OSD) and the Joint Staff to ensure the Army's funding, fielding and equipping actions satisfy the operational requirements of current and future joint forces. To accomplish this critical task, G-8 team members are active participants in the new joint capabilities integration and development system (JCIDS) that is designed to provide those interdependent service capabilities that will support joint commanders and provide a truly joint force.

The G-8 team is made up of the Force Development Directorate, which integrates materiel solutions for the Army, the Center for Army Analysis, which provides a robust analytical and modeling capability for the entire Army Staff, the Program Analysis and Evaluation Directorate, which is responsible for building the Army's Future Years Defense Plan (FYDP) and the Army Quadrennial Defense Review Office, which is responsible for coordinating all studies and strategic reviews with OSD.

The past year has definitely not been a period where "business as usual" has characterized equipping efforts. Instead, we have intensively managed every aspect of equipping soldiers to ensure that equipment is properly tested, acquired, distributed and issued as rapidly as possible. Getting soldiers the latest in force protection equipment has been the most urgent focus of Army fielding initiatives. Among these initiatives, providing Interceptor body armor to all deployed soldiers has been foremost. Accelerating the production and fielding of uparmored Humvees was another high priority, and the Army, aided by supplemental funding from Congress, worked closely with the commercial sector to rapidly respond to this emerging and critical requirement. Further efforts are also under way to add ballistic protection to 11,000 light vehicles and selected aviation platforms. Specifically regarding aviation, G-8 is working to ensure that all aircraft have the necessary survivability equipment, and it is continuing efforts to upgrade this capability even further in the future.

The Army's rapid fielding initiative (RFI) is another means of accelerating the fielding of important soldier systems to provide the latest state-of-the-art enhancements to their lethality, protection and ability to operate. RFI provides head-to-toe protection and includes weapon optics, clothing, boots, helmets, kneepads and other related personal items. Other key efforts included the accelerated fielding of unmanned aerial vehicles, lightweight countermortar radars and the procurement of robots to disarm explosive devices. Finally, there is a continuing effort to collect feedback from soldiers and to make improvements to fielded equipment and fielding procedures.

In addition to these considerable initiatives to support soldiers at war, G-8 continued with ongoing actions to maintain and improve the capabilities and readiness of the Army today. In this regard, G-8, in conjunction with other Army staff agencies, has played an essential role in a significant setting-the-force or reset process to prepare forces returning from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for near-term and future readiness requirements. …

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