intentionally by the Army in this context to describe innovation on a grand scale, undertaken to address major changes in the character of conflict, to exploit new technologies—particularly information technology (IT) emerging from the commercial world—and to adapt to shifts in geostrategic competition.2

For the past 20 years, the Army has been engaged in a transition process to leverage increasingly available innovative technologies, particularly in the area of C4ISR. The strategy calls for developing new kinds of units, modeled on an “Objective Force” that would operate and be organized and equipped differently from today’s combat commands (U.S. Army, 2002). In August 2003, the Army Chief of Staff, General Peter J. Schoomaker, redesignated the Objective Force concept as the “Future Force.” Army plans for developing the Future Force include a range of leader development, acquisition, training, sustainment, and institutional initiatives. The Army’s goal is to field the first fully operational Future Force unit in 2009 (U.S. Army, 2003). Several relevant Future Force C4ISR technologies are already available or are well along in the developmental process. Table 2-1 describes the operational benefits of the Future Force.


The primary capabilities required for the Future Force overall are these:3

  • Trained soldiers and leaders who understand how to use the power of information and the network to maximize combat effectiveness;

  • Situational awareness of all forces—blue (friendly), red (enemy), joint, and neutral;

  • A “smart knowledge management system” that knows the user, what the user does, and what he or she needs and that pushes knowledge to the user as well as pulling it from the network when needed;

  • Ubiquitous assured access to the network and sensors; and

  • The ability to remain relevant to national defense with the maturation of technologies in the commercial world—timely spiral technology insertions.

In broad terms, the Future Force units of action (brigade-size and smaller) will possess the characteristics of responsiveness, deployability, agility, versatility, lethality, survivability, and sustainability. Each of the characteristics described in the following subsections is critically dependent on C4ISR capabilities (U.S.


There is no single commonly accepted metric or framework that distinguishes among concepts that are transformational and those that are not. See Roxbourough (2002).


LTG John M. Riggs, Director, Future Force Task Force, “Transformation to the Objective Force: C4ISR Enablers for Homeland Security,” briefing to the committee, Washington, D.C., August 25, 2003.

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