Future Combat Systems
Military experts believe that future wars will not be huge battles for territory as had happened in the past but rather small insurgencies spread over a wide area such as what eventually happened in Iraq. Thus, rather than a large force with heavy equipment that will take weeks to assemble and deploy, the US Army would need to be able to assemble and move out quickly and efficiently.
Combat System Requirements
Strategic agility which means that forces with the people and equipment needed to make a difference can be dispatched quickly and easily. At the moment, the only units capable of handling the requirement are airborne and special forces units – small forces with light equipment that can be easily overrun by a larger force with heavy firepower;
Smaller logistics 'footprint' which refers to the people, fuel, parts and ammunition needed to keep a unit functional. Current practice calls for large-scale supply and maintenance depots which are both vulnerable to guerilla attack as well as time-consuming to set up; there is a call for smaller vehicles that consume less fuel and are easily transported in larger numbers, thus easing the logistical or supply situation;
Increased battlefield survivability and lethality which is the ability to do major damage to the enemy while sustaining zero to minimum casualties; and
Reduced maintenance and operating costs which will be an outgrowth of all of the above objectives. The envisioned smaller, faster-moving and harder-hitting units imply lower costs in establishing and maintaining them; high survivability implies reduced costs for medical care and treatment.
To achieve these goals, the US military is embarking on a major effort to upgrade current combat procedures and equipment. This is the Future Combat Systems initiative.
The Future Combat Systems Initiative
At the heart of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) initiative is a massive overhaul of military technology, with major reliance on computers and software, robotics and networking systems for communications among different operational and command units.
Networking will be the central element in this future army, allowing each unit (whether individual soldier or groups of soldiers) to communicate with each other as well as their command chain, share real-time data, coordinate plans and actions and react to changing conditions accurately and swiftly. This requires upgraded and integrated communications systems as well as advanced software to deal with the mountains of data needed for the units to operate together seamlessly as they react to changing circumstances.
The FCS initiative also calls for the overhaul of equipment or a shift to weapons, communications, and armor that are lighter but will still provide better protection and lethal force. There's also a move to develop lighter, more transportable tanks, trucks and aircraft which will provide lethal firepower and protection for its users.
Robots will also be a major feature of FCS. These are not the killer cyborgs popularized sci-fi movies but utility robots that can be used for reconnaissance, delivery of supplies and equipment, and security (e.g. guarding critical installations with a minimum of troops).