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STAR 21: Strategic Technologies for the Army of the Twenty-First Century
tactics of tank warfare from the slow, cautious pace of single-target attack 30 years ago.
Both aircraft and satellites were used to gather intelligence then, but lengthy delays for analysis and interpretation separated the time of data acquisition from the time when commanders in the field could use the information. By contrast, both airborne and satellite reconnaissance in the Persian Gulf war gave commanders useful information in real time. The data stream was processed, communicated, and interpreted fast enough to provide early warning of a scud missile's trajectory and to guide the counterattacks. Now the sensor assets flying high above the fray can directly affect the course of battle far below.
These examples share more than just the practical use of technologies hardly imagined possible 30 years ago. Each modern marvel occurred through the vision of Army engineers who were granted the resources and freedom, by their technology managers, to explore the possible. The recommendations on the Army's in-house R&D infrastructure in Chapter 5 are meant to promote the continuation of similar opportunities for new generations of scientists and engineers.
STAR has been asked to forecast technology and systems over a similar span of three decades. None of the study participants doubt that technology will progress as much, if not more, during this next span as it has since 1960. Despite reduced budgets, there will be ample opportunities for similar success in expanding the possible to achieve the practical.
Yet the old-timers among us wonder whether the next generation of Army visionaries will enjoy an environment that encourages and nurtures their efforts and unleashes their creativity. The business of technology development has become much more complicated; it seems more difficult now to apply technology rapidly to the needs of forces in the field. The structure as it stands today casts doubt on whether the next generation will be able to seize the opportunities offered by technology to produce similar marvels in future Army systems. The implementation strategy, focal values, and other technology management changes recommended by the STAR Committee are offered in the hope of regaining an environment that will attract and encourage a new generation, to ensure the technological dominance of U.S arms into the twenty-first century.