Northrop Grumman chief touts benefits of military transformation technologies

The military's transformational technologies--next-generation systems that can have devastating consequences when brought to bear in urban combat--could help in homeland security, Ronald Sugar, chief executive officer of Northrop Grumman, said Tuesday.

"Transformation is not done, it is only in the beginning stages of what it can accomplish," Sugar told reporters at the National Press Club. "It can help us take the fight to the street and make our homeland safer."

Some military experts believe the military's transformational technologies are best used on larger battlefields rather than in the increasingly urban environment today's military faces. They argue that street fights are not won with expensive, high-precision weapons, but instead by savvy leaders who can quickly adapt to outsmart an enemy.

Sugar dismissed that notion, making reference to the recent U.S. military victory in Fallujah, Iraq. "Why wasn't it a fair fight? Our soldiers were [better] trained and equipped," he said. "We just beat the crap out of the them."

Sugar cited several transformation technologies that gave soldiers an edge in Fallujah, including satellite-based global positioning systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and blue-force tracking technologies, which tell U.S. military forces where friendly units are located. He said such situational awareness technologies lift the "fog of war" and give U.S. forces a tremendous advantage because they know where they are at all times.

"To those who would contend that the brutal street fighting in Iraq is an argument against transformation, I would say they've got it exactly backwards," Sugar said. "Instead of giving up and accepting a World War II Stalingrad-like paradigm of house-to-house combat, we need to apply the principles of transformation to the 400-meter close combat fight."

Sugar said other future technologies that could be used in urban combat include the directed-energy laser, ground-based radar systems mounted on Humvees, unmanned bomber aircraft and other robotic systems.

As for homeland security, Sugar said, many technologies are transferable. UAVs could be used to guard U.S. borders and waterways, while sensors could be deployed to cities to serve as alarms for possible chemical and biological attacks.