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"Always Out Front." The Military Intelligence (MI) Corps is known for this motto, which reminds us that intelligence Soldiers will always be among the first forces engaged in an operation. The MI Corps will soon find itself "out front" once again--as its Soldiers test and field components of the Future Combat System (FCS). MI Soldiers will lead the Army as the FCS is deployed, as nearly all of the early components are intelligence related.
The FCS is the cornerstone of the Army's modernization strategy. It is the most ambitious development program managed by the Army in the last 40 years. The $162 billion program will field fourteen new combat systems plus an advanced network called the System of Systems Common Operating Environment (SOSCOE) that enables each of them to share information more quickly, efficiently, and securely than any previous systems. (1) FCS components are grouped into four main categories: unattended ground sensors (UGS), unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and manned systems. From the names of the categories themselves, one can see that intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) systems make up a large portion of the overall FCS program. ISR systems are not limited to the unmanned categories, as a manned reconnaissance and surveillance vehicle is planned. (2)
Compared to the Army's legacy systems, the FCS places a greater emphasis upon ISR and rapid dissemination of intelligence. Manned vehicles that will eventually replace systems such as the Abrams and Bradley are a part of the FCS, but these systems will be the last to be fielded. The Army's priority is on unmanned and communications systems that increase situational awareness and provide actionable intelligence. (3) Combat power will increase by the improved synchronization of reconnaissance and surveillance with kinetic firepower, not by simply increasing the number of combat assets within a formation. Systems will make use of sensor-based active protection systems that will improve deploy-ability by reducing weight while simultaneously improving Soldier survivability. (4)
Recent Army transformation has focused on unit structure, with increased resources given to brigade combat teams (BCTs). Along with the structural changes, the Army fielded new systems such as the Stryker that can more rapidly deploy forces using current technologies. Other systems, …