Thursday, December 6, 2007

RUMSFELD'S WET DREAM--THE WAR WE'D LIKE TO FIGHT

The Army's $200 Billion Makeover March to Modernize Proves Ambitious and Controversial
By Alec Klein Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, December 7, 2007; A01
EL PASO -- A $200 billion plan to remake the largest war machine in history unfolds in one small way on a quiet country road in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Jack Hensley, one of a legion of contractors on the project, is hunkered in a slowly moving SUV, serving as target practice for a baby-faced soldier in a Humvee aiming a laser about 700 yards away. A moment later, another soldier in the Humvee punches commands into a computer transmitting data across an expanse of sand and mesquite to a site 2 1/2 miles away. On an actual battlefield, this is when a precision attack missile would be launched, killing Hensley almost instantly.
. . . In the Army's vision, the war of the future is increasingly combat by mouse clicks. It's as networked as the Internet, as mobile as a cellphone, as intuitive as a video game. The Army has a name for this vision: Future Combat Systems, or FCS. The project involves creating a family of 14 weapons, drones, robots, sensors and hybrid-electric combat vehicles connected by a wireless network. It has turned into the most ambitious modernization of the Army since World War II and the most expensive Army weapons program ever, military officials say.
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Thirty-two years after getting our ass kicked out of Vietnam by kids in black pajamas with a bag of rice around their neck, the Army is still gearing up for an enemy that doesn't exist.
The "Army After Next" project infers war games against an enemy who is moving backward in time rather than forward--defeating the world's greatest fighting force in the process. We are beat, done, finished in Iraq after $1 trillion dollars expended (maybe two) against a hit-and-run force that kills us with cell-phones and Semtex.
In a 'lighter, more mobile force,' our soldiers are now hauling around 70+ pounds of personal equipment in 120 degree heat to fight an enemy who picks the time, the place and the circumstance of confrontation--dressed in the lightest of garments and able instantly to meld into the civilian scene. Night-vision goggles allow us to scan empty streets and kick down doors on the wrong block. Most wretchedly, we've turned a civilian population against us.
The last force-meeting-force battle has been fought and it was fought across Europe over sixty years ago, but we're still trying to gear up for it.
Put that in your $200 billion (soon to be another trillion) budget.
The GAO expects costs to rise. Congress has set 2009 to decide whether to continue pursuing the ambitious program. But Brig. Gen. James Terry, who oversees doctrine and training for Future Combat Systems at Fort Bliss, said there is no turning back.
"We have to head toward the future," he said, adding, "I think the train left the station a couple of years ago."
I think Rumsfeld's train left the station a couple of decades ago.

* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Terrorism, check out Opinion-Columns.com