June 11, 2008
“Today is both a reflection of the past and a look into the future of the United States Army. While this Saturday marks the 233rd birthday of the Army, we are also here to celebrate what will be regarded as a truly historic day for its future. The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, or NLOS-C, is but a glimpse into this future.
“Never before have we or any other nation attempted to undertake such an important or such a monumental transformation of a ground force. In my mind, the rollout of NLOS-C marks the beginning of the greatest transformation the United States Army has ever known, increasing the Army’s ability to fight across the entire spectrum of warfare.
“…Today, with the rollout of the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, the United States once again retains for itself the greatest artillery piece in the world.”
Full Remarks As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to be with you here today in front of the nation’s Capitol. Secretary Geren and General Casey, thank you both for inviting me to be here for this monumental occasion. Those of you who know me, know of my support for the United States Army and for Army artillery.
Today is both a reflection of the past and a look into the future of the United States Army. While this Saturday marks the 233rd birthday of the Army, we are also here to celebrate what will be regarded as a truly historic day for its future. The Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, or NLOS-C, is but a glimpse into this future.
Today, however, is much more than a celebration of the first Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon. Today we celebrate the future of the United States Army—Future Combat Systems. Never before have we or any other nation attempted to undertake such an important or such a monumental transformation of a ground force. In my mind, the rollout of NLOS-C marks the beginning of the greatest transformation the United States Army has ever known, increasing the Army’s ability to fight across the entire spectrum of warfare.
For those of you that are familiar with the history of the NLOS-C’s predecessor, the Crusader, you probably know how disappointed I was when that program was cancelled in 2002. However, the cancellation of Crusader was a blessing in disguise. We took all we had learned about building 21st century artillery and moved it into the concept of FCS. Now it is a critical element of a system of networked platforms, which will revolutionize ground warfare by providing unparalleled information access of information to our Soldiers. FCS pushes the envelope of land warfare.
FCS is relevant…it is designed to fight across the spectrum of conflict from urban warfare to a major theater war, spin-outs are now being used in combat.
FCS is real… elements are on the battlefield today, additional elements are rolling out of the factories.
FCS is revolutionary…it will enable soldiers to use remote-control devices to position hovering drones over an enemy encampment, then send those coordinates to pre-positioned missile systems (NLOS Launch System) or other assets like the NLOS-C, that can launch and strike targets with unprecedented lethality.
It is a synergy of leading edge technologies that fully enables soldiers to use a robust network as well as enhancing their ability to operate autonomously when necessary.
The Army went to war in 2003 with an equipment shortfall of over $50 billion and equipment based on 30-year-old technologies that has deteriorated in harsh operating environments. It doesn't make sense to replace these "legacy systems" of the type worn out by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with anything but equipment suited for the next generation of warfare. I have often stated that the United States Army currently ranks behind four other countries in cannon artillery capabilities; British, Russian, South African and German artillery systems are better than the United States and they are all superior in rate of fire and range to our Paladin. I am happy to be able to say that those days are over, and today, with the rollout of the Non-Line-of-Sight Cannon, the United States once again retains for itself the greatest artillery piece in the world.
We are growing our Army and our Marine Corps but we must ensure they have the equipment to meet all challenges in this dynamic security environment. The only acceptable answer is that our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines must have best of everything, including artillery, strike vehicles, lift capacity, ships, weapons, and missile defense. Everything has to be the best if we're going to meet what I consider to be the minimum expectations of the American people. This must include combat systems that are able to counter asymmetric threats as well as fight large-scale conventional wars.
It is true that FCS is the most expensive Army Modernization program to-date, which has made it an easy target for some Members in Congress. But let me remind you that we are not just building an individual weapons platform. FCS combines what would otherwise be 15 major acquisition programs into one integrated program. This is the transformation and modernization of the entire Army. It will prove less expensive in the long run to build FCS than it would be to continue to retool legacy systems with lesser capabilities. FCS comprises only 3.7 percent of the Army's total budget and is well planned and budgeted.
It is also, without a doubt, extremely vital to our ability to confront future threats. The security environment of the 21st century is unclear. The United States will likely face adversaries employing tactics that range across the entire spectrum of warfare – a combination of conventional and asymmetric warfare will likely be the norm in any future conflict. We must have an Army that can meet all these challenges. FCS has the capabilities that soldiers need across this entire spectrum.
FCS is engineered to provide more agility and increased precision, capabilities our soldiers requested. Of the 3,000 operational needs statements generated by soldiers in Iraq, 80 percent relate to capabilities FCS is designed to field.
Furthermore, soldiers are already using FCS technologies on the battlefield. These include chemical and biological detectors, as well as lightweight composite armor. This armor was designed for FCS to be adapted for use in vehicle armor kits that are currently being used to protect Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan from powerful IEDs. Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan are also using small, unmanned ground vehicles called Packbots that have proved invaluable during urban warfare and explosive ordnance disposal operations. The Excalibur precision artillery round being developed for the NLOS-C is currently being used by artillery units in Iraq with stunning success.
I am pleased that we are getting these technologies into the field where they are saving lives. However, we will not realize the true value of FCS until we have the entire system fully fielded. Each year, more FCS technologies are scheduled to be in the hands of our operational forces, enhancing current capabilities. FCS’ network is on track and is also being fielded incrementally over time with more capability.
But, in the end, it all comes down to funding. In order to realize the full capabilities of this system, Congress must fully fund, and fully procure FCS.
We must build upon the synergies of each individual system, working together as a network, operated by the greatest and best-trained Soldiers in the world. We must give our Soldiers the capability to be able to fight the wars of today and the wars of the future. FCS is that capability.
As this nation continues to fight in the Global War on Terror, the Army will continue to provide the Joint force the capabilities it needs to persist in its struggle for liberty and democracy. Congress and this nation must remain committed to supporting our soldiers and ensure they are properly manned to be able to engage globally across the spectrum of conflict. They must also be committed to ensuring that when we send them into harm’s way, they will have best training and equipment available.
There will continue to be challenges ahead and I look forward to facing them with you. The courage and dedication of our soldiers and their families are an inspiration to us all, and may the rest of us endeavor to be “Army Strong” in our own lives.
onal Information, please see: Inhofe to Participate at 'Future combat' Cannon Visit To DC, INHOFE TOURS NLOS-C FACILITY, INHOFE HONORS ARMY’S 233rd BIRTHDAY.