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Air assault: expeditionary force: the future force of the Army.

The Army began its first spiral of live force-on-force experiments in September 2004 to test leading edge technologies for Future Combat Systems.

"Future Combat Systems (FCS) will replace the current legacy force, and Fort Benning is the catalyst for these experiments," said Bob Kruger, Fort Benning's lead Project Officer for the Soldier Battle Lab.

"In the future, there will be radical changes as how pertinent information is obtained and disseminated to combat leaders and their subordinates. The Air Assault Expeditionary Force (AAEF) spirals are a series of experiments to help us get there," said Kruger. With the support of the Experimental Force (EXFOR) Company of 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, AAEF will help transition the current force into the future force. The focus of the first experiment is to test how the latest technologies can increase the lethality and survivability of a small mobile combat unit.

Beginning in September 2004, the EXFOR Company conducted a series of missions consisting of raids and attacks with basic combat loads, weapons, and RFI equipment. Information was gathered by data collectors on the current lethality of a small combat unit utilizing contemporary platoon and company-level assets.

The second set of live experiments during Spiral One included testing a variety of equipment developed by various government agencies to include Defense Advance Research Projects Agency and the Communication-Electronics Command's Research Development and Engineering Center as well as several defense industry leaders. Some of the equipment tested by the EXFOR included: Class I Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Cost Effective Targeting Systems (CETS), Airborne Retransmission Platforms, Unmanned Ground Systems, dismounted Soldier communications/GPS tracking, and Mobile Command and Control (MC2) software.

These technologies changed the way the platoon planned, gained intelligence, and fought the opposing force (OPFOR) during their missions. It streamlined the planning process and shaped the objective in favor of the attacking element. By receiving real-time data from the platoon's sensor technology, the platoon's leadership was able to position elements and quickly destroy the enemy. Beyondline-of-site (BLOS) capabilities coupled with current and new tactics developed during AAEF drastically increased situational awareness, lethality, agility, and survivability of the platoon.

Subsequent experiments will take place over the next three years, integrating improvements in C4ISR technology and incorporating recommendations of the EXFOR users. AAEF will continue to experiment with future technologies as well as some used by the conventional Army.
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Publication:Infantry Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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