Forward Observer

By Sean Gallagher

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Gates’ budget proposal boosts C4ISR, keeps FCS network

Much of the focus in the news following Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ unveiling of the Defense Department’s 2010 budget proposal on April 6 was on the cuts to major platform programs. Yet Gates’ proposals would boost the network-centric focus of DOD through additional spending on command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.

Gates recommended increasing the budget for ISR in the 2010 budget by $2 billion. Although a portion of that money is intended to fund more research and development of ISR capabilities, the lion’s share is focused on getting more eyes in the sky in the form of additional unmanned and manned air surveillance systems.

At the top of the list: 50 more “Predator-class (unmanned aerial vehicle) orbits” by the 2011 fiscal year, thus providing more persistent surveillance capability over Iraq and Afghanistan. The secretary also proposed increasing manned ISR aircraft, such as those put into service as part of the Army’s Task Force ODIN.

The Air Force has made a similar effort to field manned ISR aircraft through its Project Liberty. But these two proposals reflect Gates’ previous criticism of the services’ slowness to adopt UAV and low-cost manned ISR aircraft.

While Gates is proposing that DOD “significantly restructure the Army’s Future Combat Systems program,” DOD will seek to keep Spinout 1 of FCS, which is heavily laden with the program’s C4ISR capabilities, moving rapidly forward. “We will retain and accelerate the initial increment of the program to spin out technology enhancements to all combat brigades,” Gates said.

The upshot is that network-centric warfare capabilities originally slated to be deployed only to FCS brigade combat teams now potentially will be put in all of the Army’s existing combat vehicles.

Posted by Sean Gallagher on Apr 15, 2009 at 9:23 PM

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