FCS One Team Breakfast
Oct. 6, 2008
General Peter W. Chiarelli
Office of the Vice Chief of Staff, Army


Thank you Mr. Krone for those great comments. It really is great to be here this morning with the Future Combat Systems team. So many familiar faces.

With the Annual AUSA convention starting in a few hours, it is appropriate that we gather together as members of the Military and Industry to talk for a few moments about one of our Nation's pivotal security programs: the Future Combat Systems.

As most of you know, I've been the Vice for about 60 days. A few days ago, I spent about an hour with the resolutions committee of the Association of the United States Army giving them my sixty day thoughts and assessment as the Vice.

What I told them was that I believed it is my job is to set the conditions for the Vice After Next. That if I kept that lens throughout my tenure, it would guide me in assisting the Chief in realizing our Army and our Nation's strategic objectives.

Achieving these objectives means realizing and accepting the strategic context. It is clear to me there are three defining Global Trends, recognizable to most, now coming to a head that will define the next few decades and our Nation's approach to National Security.

We are living in a world of incredible population growth. In the next hour alone, there will be over ten-thousand souls added to the world's population. This incredible level of growth will put us over the 7 billion mark in a little less than four years...and we will keep growing. It is causing incredible structural problems for the world. Scarcity of Resources. Climate Change. Urbanization.

About 30 years ago - as a young Armor officer, I was instructed that Armor Formations should bypass built-up areas, small towns...and at all costs: large urban areas.

Yet as a division commander, I was told to go ahead and occupy a city of about 7.5 million people, 276 square miles... kind of like Chicago today.

Only when I was told to deploy... I was told to leave 2/3rds of our Armor home.

Later, after the intense urban fighting broke out in April of 2004, a young Staff Sergeant who had been injured in the block by city block fighting in Sadr City asked me a simple question: Sir, why did we leave our Armor at home. Needless to say: I went back to the Army to get the rest of our Tanks and Brads.

Everyone in this room understands another global trend, and in many ways are working to take advantage of that trend. I'm talking about the frenzied and rapid growth of information technology. You can see what I'm talking about from this chart that depicts the growth of patents over time. Just look at what has happened over the last 10 years.

Or just think in terms of Moore's Law...doubling memory every 18 months...and you can see we are creating new ideas, new technologies faster than ever before, turning existing technology into irrelevant technology seemingly overnight.

We are seeing a level of global connectivity that defies our wildest imagination... and it is continuing to evolve at an astonishing rate. New uses and ideas are maturing. New approaches are being seeded and developed. All at an accelerated rate. Even now it is difficult to truly grasp how information technology has and will continue to redefine our processes, our organizational structures, and even our culture.

Another 'trend' is the rise of extremism, both state and non-state. These entities take advantage of the disenfranchised and ride the backbone of information technologies to create incredible disruptions across the planet.

So we as an Army are left with a few strategic choices: proactively engage and evolve on behalf of the nation, or stand idly by and wait to fight the last fight.

It is why the Future Combat Systems is vitally important. We must evolve.

For the foreseeable future, our soldiers will engage in what is called 'Full Spectrum Operations'. Now... there are some mis-conceptions about what Full Spectrum means - and I want to clear that up.

I don't believe that Full Spectrum Operations means irregular warfare. I don't think it means Counterinsurgency. Further, I don't think it means tank on tank battles.

If you understand Krulak's Three Block War analogy - where you are 'confronted by the entire spectrum of tactical challenges in the span of a few hours and within the space of three continuous city block", you have a feel for what Full Spectrum Operations is really all about. It resides somewhere between the extremes of Kinetic and Non-Kinetic.

And in reality it includes elements of both, all the time, shifting constantly...sometimes without warning.

As the Secretary of Defense said last week at National Defense University:

"As we think about this range of threats, it is common to define and divide the so-called "high end" from the "low end," the conventional from the irregular; armored divisions on one side, guerrillas toting AK-47s on the other. In reality... the categories of warfare are blurring and do not fit into neat, tidy boxes."

We cannot in good conscience assume away the reality of Full Spectrum Operations, and must create and continue to evolve capabilities that allow our Soldiers to dominate, not survive, dominate in a Full Spectrum operating environment.

There is a tension that evolves from fighting in a Full Spectrum operating environment, dancing between offense, defense, and stability operations. It's a tension between Information Dominance and Knowledge Dominance.

The more kinetic the nature of the environment the greater need for data: 'where is the IED located' - 'three men identified carrying AK-47's'. The classic SPOT report. The Point of Origin of a Rocket Attack. The immediate analysis of data leads to information which leads to action.

The more non-kinetic the scope of the operation becomes, the greater need for contextual based knowledge. The connected patterns of information built on a bedrock of context familiarity. Awareness: 'how did you find the IED'; 'who normally resides in this house; 'census data' around the Point of Origin.

Look at how our soldiers are using bottom-up developed systems. One of them is TIGR [Tactical Integrate Ground Reporting]. A virtual notebook, with significant events, pictures, video, census data, infrastructure, personal observations.

Connected and geospatial in nature where fellow patrol leaders can tap into the virtual notebooks of their peers to draw their own conclusions, building context, building awareness. It empowers our front line leaders like never before. It taps into the creative capabilities of the American soldier.

I would go so far as to say the empowering quality of systems like TIGR is allowing us to move beyond the mantra that 'every soldier is a scout'. Now every soldier is an intelligence asset uniquely empowered by the connective tissue of the network to conduct their own Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.

As an aside, and probably a topic for another forum, but I'll mention it anyway: you know TIGR grew out of the experiences of soldiers in OIF II and was but an idea in 2005. A few enterprising soldiers took what they saw with systems like CPOF and asked DARPA for some help. It became so powerful to the soldiers on the street of Iraq that it spread like a virus. Three years after it was conceived, in spite of the defense mechanisms of our own POM process, 15 BCT's are using it in theater. Amazing.

But Back to FCS...

As FCS platforms and the network develop into an initial operating capacity; to be relevant, be wary of the dichotomy between the two types of informational needs. Let the tactical needs of the current Full Spectrum Environments in Iraq and Afghanistan drive the development and then move forward.

How does FCS change the equation in fighting the 3-Block War' How does it allow us to better balance and dominate the offense, defense, and stability tasks. To synchronize and maximize the kinetic and non-kinetic challenges that we are asking our young Troopers and their Leaders to perform on a daily basis'

As I watch each layer of the Future Combat Systems being injected as quickly as they are being developed into the units preparing and deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan, I see incredible advances that are providing that dominating capability to the Force.

The trick is: as we continue to spin out technological developments into the Force how do the capabilities change and empower the organization as a whole'

That armor we left home at the beginning of 2004 we eventually got. And it proved critical to how we implemented our will.

Though you probably only know of the operational and strategic level articles most associated with me, I also had an opportunity to seriously look at the critical nature of Armored Operations in Full spectrum fights.

We learned incredible lessons from the knife fights of Sadr City, Najaf, and Falluja. The importance of adaptable leadership, confidence in equipment, creating standoff and creating points of domination. We maximized the technology of the independent sites on both the Tank and Bradley allowing us a degree of observation and protection that dominated the fight and kept our troopers safe.

It was incredible what the mere presence of a Tank or Bradley could do to create a 'calming' effect.

As the Army developed a solution set for the Armor problem we had, they wanted to give me the old M1A1's out of APS 5. I told them: "no, I wanted my M1A2 SEPs". There response was: 'Pete:a Tank is a Tank'.

If you know anything about fighting a tank in urban terrain and the capability the independent sites give you...you realize the error of 'A Tank is a Tank'.

A Tank is NOT a Tank.

As I look at the potential end result of FCS, I cannot help but see incredible tactical level advances in our approach to operations that redefine the notion of creating standoff, creating three-dimensional points of domination, instant information operations capabilities like we have never seen. Ultimately gaining the confidence of our soldiers in the equipment, and then letting the creativity of our soldiers and our leaders adapt the incredible capabilities to the situation... like TIGR is doing today.

We will have to relook the organizational design to maximize the benefits of the network. Small independent formations tied together along the cyber-domain able to tap into vast intell and information repositories at a moment's notice. Command and control distributed, yet able to converge at a point in time and space to mass effects.

When I see the potential of integrating Future Combat Systems into the force - I am amazed.

But, I can't help but think about how we can do this even better.

As the Vice, who stands at the crossroads of the Army today and the Army of tomorrow. Who must balance on the head of a pin the interests of the Army, the Congress, and industry...it has become clear to me that we have some great opportunities before us.

As the commander of the Multi-National Corps - Iraq, our commanders had to learn a hard lesson about our own information operations campaign. We had to remain objective and separate the message from what was actually happening on the ground. In short we had to fight to keep from drinking our own kool-aid.

We as the FCS team cannot let ourselves get into a position where we are drinking our own kool-aid and losing sight of reality.

We must continue everyday to 'earn' the trust of the American people. That means staying true to the desired result of the program without creating a monetary sinkhole.

It means being nimble enough to balance the desired endstate of the program with the reality of emerging technologies and the tactical creativity of our young leaders in the field.

It means pushing the research and development envelope while maintaining fiscal responsibility.

Yes...I know there's a dichotomy there. Most don't think it can be done. I think it can.

We have to keep pushing the realm of the possible into the edge of the impossible ... and then quickly, quickly spinning off what we can into the hands of our soldiers.

As the Secretary of Defense stated:

"Our conventional modernization programs seek a 99 percent solution in years.... - the wars we are in - require 75 percent solutions in months. The challenge is whether in our bureaucracy and in our minds these two different paradigms can be made to coexist."

A quick anecdote. After World War I, a younger George Patton and a younger Dwight Eisenhower were stationed together at Fort Meade - just up the road. They spent hours in the motorpool with some new contraption called the Tank.

Actually they took it home... into their backyard.

They literally tore it apart bolt by bolt and put it back together again. Patton and Eisenhower debated late into the evenings about the utility of the Tank. They both started writing about the Tank in the professional journals. They could see how the Tank, coupled with other emerging technologies could literally revolutionize warfare.

Yet, institutional bias kicked in. A well placed call from a senior officer, in this case the Chief of Infantry, literally killed the birth of modern tank warfare for almost 10 years. As Stephen Ambrose would later write: "Patton and Eisenhower were true pioneers, original and creative in their thought. But the Army was not pleased."

We cannot afford a 10 year delay of an idea. You see, there are many, many instances out there right now of off-the-shelf technologies such as TIGR being connected to an idea and being injected into the current fight.

We, FCS, have to maintain the leading edge of technology, immediately looking at how we can spin it into the force. And that layering of capabilities will spring forth an incredible set of capabilities that none of us in this room can truly envision. Only once we put it in the hands of those young troopers fighting and learning will we truly, truly know what we have created.

If FCS is our premiere modernization program, then think hard, with eyes wide open about what is being cultivated and created in the field.

We've got to get better at communicating F.C.S. If you ask a dozen people what FCS is, you'll probably get a dozen different answers. The Chief has outlined a simple slide that encompasses the ends of the program. But I ask you: can we do this better' He has to literally explain it every time he puts up the slide. How do we educate the nation' We cannot take a defensive tone here. We can all intuitively see the benefits of rolling this technology into the Force. Yet there are phenomenal misperceptions about the program.

Here's just one example: We have to reframe the idea behind the revolutionary approach to the design of the MGV's. Most believe it's just a new tank. What's wrong with the old one'

A Tank is just a Tank right'

How do you create an intuitive understanding what and how the system redefines HOW we will fight and dominate in a full spectrum environment'

Once you dig through the truckloads of powerpoint briefings on the MGV you come to a slow realization that it really is a platform designed for the full spectrum fight. The self-sufficient nature of the system has a vast array of networked capabilities that will literally change the game in favor of the soldier.

We have to take a capabilities based approach to how we demonstrate value. Not only how the echeloning or spin-outs give us a tactical edge today. But as you layer the systems as they come on line, connected by the network, how does that change the game' Change the equation'

But to understand how to do that, you have to understand what Full Spectrum means.

Now, take those comments as observations. You can bet I'll be looking at ideas like this as we continue down the modernization trail.

Where can we accelerate research, development, assessment, and fielding while maintaining fiscal discipline in the program. And for obvious reasons - Accountability counts. More this morning than it did last Monday morning.

And I will also be looking at how we are maximizing the ingenuity and creativity of the American Soldier. If FCS accomplishes 70% of what we are asking of it, it becomes an engine of creativity for decentralized solutions. How does that change the design of the organization, how does it compress or accelerate our plan, prep, and execute cycle'

How do we keep our eyes open as an Army allowing the creativity of the Patton's or Eisenhower's in our ranks to shape the tactics of the future' They are out there. Are we listening' Fostering an environment that promotes their creativity'

Push the realm of the possible into the impossible. That is what we are asking. Empower the individual soldiers; empower the team; empower the squad. Asymmetric wars are won at this level...not with bold counterattacks or meeting engagements of large armor formations.

Thank you again for inviting me this morning. It is an honor to be with you all today. I know we have the absolute best teaming of industry and government oriented on the right objective: the soldier.

Army Strong.

Page last updated Fri October 24th, 2008 at 15:29