Foreword | Executive Summary | 1.America's Army | 2.A Changed Army | 3.Resources | 4.Balancing Priorities | 5.Into the 21st Century | Acronyms

Chapter 5. Into the 21st Century

The world environment suggests that the Army's mission requirements will remain robust as the 21st century begins. Tomorrow's adversaries will no doubt be similar to those we face today. The frightening images of terrorism, narco-trafficking, ethnic cleansing, clan murders, and resurgent, competitive nationalism will ensure that the global environment remains volatile. The Army is moving today to conceive, shape, test, and field a land force prepared to meet the coming challenges. America's 21st century Army will be a capabilities-based, technologically enhanced, power projection force capable of providing the nation with full spectrum dominance.

21st Century Force of Decision

One thing is certain as the 21st century approaches: the nation will continue to rely on its Army to promote stability and thwart aggression around the world. We must be prepared to separate warring parties, reassure fearful civilians, restore public order, protect and deliver humanitarian assistance, and most important, fight and win the nation's wars. The Army will continue to provide the capabilities needed to dominate the full spectrum of military operations. American soldiers, versatile enough to operate effectively in any environment as a member of the joint team, will remain the foundation of the nation's military power -- the force of decision.

Rooted in Values

The values upon which the Army has created today's premier land combat force also will be critical to the success of our evolution into the 21st century. The Army is and will remain an institution with a unique and enduring set of values. The terms the Army uses to articulate these values are Honor, Integrity, Selfless Service, Courage, Loyalty, Duty, and Respect. These are more than words -- they are the creed by which soldiers live. Common values create the strong bonds that make soldiers successful and capable of meeting the demands of our nation. They inspire the sense of purpose necessary to sustain soldiers in the brutal realities of combat and help them deal with the ambiguities of other military operations. The future of America's Army is rooted in its values.

The Foundation

America's 21st century Army will rest on a solid foundation of high-quality people and advanced technology. The Army must be prepared to conduct quick, decisive, highly sophisticated operations as well as limited operations against less sophisticated adversaries. High-quality people integrated with technologically advanced equipment and weapons will enable our smaller Army to be more lethal, more survivable, more versatile, and more deployable.

Executing missions across the full spectrum of military operations requires soldiers able to think on both a tactical and an operational level. They must be highly skilled and well-trained to adapt to complex, dangerous, and ever-changing situations throughout the world. High-quality leaders will also be critical and must be capable of capitalizing on the technological advantages that will be an integral component of the 21st century force. High-quality civilians are equally important; many functions essential to success on the battlefield are performed by civilian employees.

America's 21st century Army must be powerful, versatile, and able to respond worldwide with overwhelming, technologically superior force that renders any potential adversary impotent while minimizing the cost in soldiers' lives. Standing still would jeopardize our position as the world's best Army. Only by enhancing current equipment with advanced technology and providing high-quality soldiers with state-of-the-art weapons systems can the Army build a full spectrum force capable of fulfilling America's security needs well into the next century.

Forging the 21st Century Force of Decision

The Army must stay ahead of changes in warfare as it prepares to enter the next century. We are changing aggressively, challenging the assumptions of the past and using technology to become more efficient and effective. The Army is adapting its organizational structure, doctrine, and equipment to the environment it will operate in the years ahead, following a vision for organizing, training, and equipping soldiers to ensure they have the capabilities the nation needs. To fulfill this vision, the Army will exploit its competitive advantages: quality people, advanced technology, and a proven joint warfighting doctrine. The Army is capturing emerging technology to develop an unprecedented level of precision, speed, and battlefield awareness. We are addressing the challenges of the 21st century today.

Joint Vision 2010

In the Spring of 1996, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff published Joint Vision 2010, which provides an operationally based template for the evolution of our nation's Armed Forces into the 21st century. Joint Vision 2010 provides direction for developing unique service capabilities within a joint framework of doctrine and programs. The document also serves as a conceptual template for leveraging quality people and technology in order to achieve new levels of effectiveness in joint warfighting.

The key characteristic Joint Vision 2010 seeks to achieve for the Armed Forces in the 21st century is full spectrum dominance -- the capability to dominate an opponent across the full range of military operations. This dominance will be achieved through the application of four operational concepts: dominant maneuver, precision engagement, full dimensional protection, and focused logistics. Critical to instilling these operational concepts are high-quality people, leadership, doctrine, education and training, organizations, and materiel.

Joint Vision 2010 acknowledges that the primary task of the Armed Forces will be to deter conflict and to fight and win should deterrence fail. Joint Vision 2010 also anticipates the conduct of a broad range of deterrent, conflict prevention, and peacetime activities, usually in concert with America's friends and allies. To accomplish these tasks, power projection and overseas presence likely will remain the fundamental strategy of the future force. America's power projection Army, enabled by its overseas presence and uniquely structured to operate in any environment across the full spectrum of military operations, will be integral to the fulfillment of Joint Vision 2010.

Army Vision 2010

Army Vision 2010, published in November 1996, is the blueprint for how the Army will contribute to the fulfillment of Joint Vision 2010. The document serves as the conceptual template for how America's Army will combine the vitality and innovation of its soldiers with new technological advances to achieve higher levels of effectiveness as the land component member of the joint warfighting team. Army Vision 2010 focuses on the implications the operational concepts identified in Joint Vision 2010 will have on the fundamental competency of the Army -- conducting prompt and sustained operations on land across the entire spectrum of military operations. The blueprint also identifies the operational imperatives and enabling technologies the Army will need to fulfill its role in achieving full spectrum dominance in the 21st century.

Army Vision 2010 notes that the significance of land power as the force of decision will continue to rise in the next century for several reasons. First, most future operations will occur at the lower or middle portions of the spectrum of military operations, where land forces provide unique and essential capabilities. Second, the Army is the most suitable force for supporting the military's contribution to international engagement. Since the overwhelming majority of military forces worldwide are armies, military engagement with these countries normally calls for army-to-army contact. Third, the Army's significance to the national military strategy of overseas presence and power projection will continue to rise: we provide the most visible, sustained presence and constitute the highest percentage of the joint force in executing diverse operations. The recent past provides a convincing example -- in Bosnia a large, visible contingent of American soldiers ultimately was required to enforce the peace accords.

Army Vision 2010 stresses that operations in the 21st century must be fully integrated with joint, multinational, and nongovernmental partners. The Army will execute its responsibilities through six patterns of operations that must be performed in war and other military operations: project the force, protect the force, shape the battlespace, decisive operations, sustain the force, and gain information dominance. The first five align precisely with the operational concepts of Joint Vision 2010; the sixth, gain information dominance, is fundamental to each of the others as well as to each of the operational concepts of Joint Vision 2010.

Army Vision 2010 links Force XXI, the ongoing process to guide the Army's transformation, with the Army After Next, the Army's emerging long-term vision of a capabilities-based Army. Army Vision 2010 provides the azimuth for making the vision a reality.

Force XXI

Force XXI, begun in 1992, is the Army's comprehensive process for modernizing and preparing for the challenges of the 21st century. Simply stated, Force XXI projects our quality soldiers into the 21st century and provides them the right doctrine and organizations, the most realistic training, an adequate and predictable sustainment package during both peace and war, and the best equipment and weapons systems that the nation can provide. The Force XXI process consists of an interactive and linked series of evaluations, exercises, and experiments that will influence critical decisions concerning the Army's future organization, equipment, training, and doctrine. The initial product of the Force XXI process will be a versatile army with the capabilities America will need in the next century: Army XXI, which is forming right now.

Force XXI draws on rigorous experimentation and leverages the power of information from the foxhole to the industrial base. Using the Force XXI process, the Army is redefining how it will fight, organize, train, and command in the information age. Force XXI seeks to exploit revolutionary changes in technology to mitigate the effects of reductions in military funding and endstrength and to provide a quantum leap in capabilities. The process combines the six patterns of operation that must be performed in war and other military operations -- project the force, protect the force, shape the battlespace, decisive operations, sustain the force, and gain information dominance -- with the power of information technology to improve capabilities. The incorporation of digital technology will provide unprecedented abilities to gather and share information. These abilities combined with organizational versatility will allow the Army to generate greater combat power more rapidly when responding to the increasingly broad range of missions assigned.

The Army is committed to building a more versatile, deployable, and powerful 21st century force. Much of the equipment and many of the weapons systems being procured to modernize the force are already compliant with the technical standards necessary for Army XXI, and others have been modified without incurring additional costs. As a result of such experimentation, more modifications will be made through the normal modernization process. The Army will spend approximately $1.4 billion on Force XXI through FY03.


Digitization is critical as the Army progresses with the Force XXI process. It will ensure that the Army remains the premier land combat force into the 21st century. Digitization is the application of information technologies to acquire, exchange, and employ timely battlefield information. It will enhance situational awareness and provide the means for information dominance by enabling friendly forces to share a common picture of the battlefield while communicating and targeting in real or near-real time. Digitization will reduce the "fog of war" and decrease decision-making time by optimizing the flow of information. It will allow the synchronization of combat power at critical times and places faster than an adversary can. It will contribute to increased lethality, survivability, and operational tempo while reducing the potential for fratricide.

The Army Digitization Office (ADO) integrates digital information technology to ensure seamless digital communications from the sustaining base to the tactical and strategic levels. The ADO identifies programming requirements and evaluates digitization efforts, working closely with the other services and coalition partners to ensure that digitization programs are interoperable.

Battle Labs

The Army's Battle Laboratory program is integral to the Force XXI process. Battle Labs accelerate the combat development process through faster and better determination of operational requirements through warfighting experiments. This shortens the acquisition cycle while improving capabilities and reducing costs. The Battle Labs enable users, developers, and industry to work together to exploit technological advancements and synchronize advanced warfighting concepts. The Army has established six Battle Labs: Early Entry, Mounted and Dismounted Battlespace, Command and Control, Depth and Simultaneous Attack, and Combat Service Support.

The Army Science and Technology program is the breeding ground for innovative technology applications. Major science and technology thrusts culminate in Advanced Technology Demonstrations and evaluations at a Battle Lab. Evaluations are also conducted through the Defense Department's Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration initiative and the Advanced Concept and Technology II program. These provide funds for industry or academia to demonstrate the feasibility of technology that, if successful, can enter the Army's traditional research and development program or be selected for rapid acquisition. Each of these efforts supports the goal of rapidly determining requirements and exploiting technology.

The Battle Labs also produce insights into joint and coalition warfighting. The other services have participated in a number of warfighting experiments, and the British and German armies are establishing similar battle labs with the intent to ensure interoperability. Battle Lab warfighting experiments begin with formal hypotheses derived from analyses of the capabilities required to implement future operational concepts. The experiments employ a mix of constructive, virtual, and live simulations involving soldiers and units in tactically competitive scenarios. The program uses a variety of warfighting experiments ranging from narrowly focused scenarios to comprehensive, detailed explorations of complex issues called Advanced Warfighting Experiments.

Advanced Warfighting Experiments

Advanced Warfighting Experiments (AWEs) focus on specific force improvements by addressing doctrine, training, leader development, organizational design, materiel, and soldier system requirements. So far, the Army has conducted five AWEs. Atlantic Resolve provided insights about linking disparate constructive, virtual, and live simulations in a "synthetic theater of war." Theater Missile Defense explored ways to integrate national, joint and Army capabilities into a cohesive tactical missile defense force. Prairie Warrior/Mobile Strike Force explored future division-level organizational, materiel, and operational concepts that will influence division redesign efforts. Focused Dispatch evaluated digital connectivity processes and functions in a mounted battalion task force composed of fire support, intelligence, combat service support, and battle command elements. Warrior Focus established the baseline for digitizing dismounted battalion forces and continued to explore dismounted night fighting issues.

The Army will conduct two more AWEs involving the Experimental Force (EXFOR) in 1997. EXFOR, the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized), provides a digitized force for experimenting with and evaluating new organizational designs, modern technology insertions, and new operational concepts, doctrine, and tactics. The first AWE in 1997, Task Force XXI in March, will experiment with a brigade task force and evaluate the integration of new technology, digitization, and new organizational structures. The aim is to develop a force designed around information and to analyze battle command at brigade level and below. The second AWE, Division XXI in November 1997, will validate an interim divisional design and operational concept, battle command and information requirements, and combat service support concepts. It will also provide insights into digital operations for echelons above the division level and for joint operations. EXFOR and its warfighting experiments will provide the Army with the critical insights needed to make qualified decisions concerning the capabilities required to maintain land force dominance in the 21st century.

Army XXI

The initial product of the dynamic Force XXI process will be Army XXI -- a versatile Army with the capabilities America will need early in the next century. This unique new fighting force will improve on today's Army, enhancing warfighting capabilities by leveraging high-quality people and high technology according to the lessons learned from numerous Battle Lab evaluations and advanced warfighting experiments. The transition to the Army XXI design will occur between now and 2010.

The Army is on the cutting edge of a whole new way of warfighting. The current modernization strategy fields a full corps with information technology by 2010. Evolutionary improvements in combat systems will provide enhanced warfighting capabilities, while the addition of information technology will enhance situational awareness and assure information dominance. The Army will continue procuring new systems and improving current ones to ensure it harnesses the power of information.

Army XXI will maintain and improve upon America's warfighting edge. It will be more versatile and flexible than the current force and will possess a universal digitized information capability. It will be a power projection force that is more agile, more lethal, and, most important, better able to provide the nation full spectrum dominance. Army XXI will have the capabilities to win the nation's wars, establish order, prevent conflict, and sustain operations as long as required. The capabilities to compel, deter, reassure, and support will be the defining characteristics of Army XXI -- the 21st century force of decision.

Army After Next

As the Army looks far into the future, there appears to be a real opportunity for a revolution in military affairs. Armed with the lessons of Army XXI and complemented by the technology explosion of the information age, it is possible to envision an entirely different force -- a logistically unencumbered force with greater lethality, versatility, and strategic and operational mobility. This is the Army After Next. The Army plans to examine the complexities and opportunities of the new era through a wargaming process led by the Training and Doctrine Command. New technologies that may revolutionize the Army will be investigated, then determinations will be made about adding them. Through this process, technologies and capabilities will be available when needed.

Meeting the challenges of the future will require a ground force able to conduct simultaneous, continuous, and seamless operations across the full spectrum of military operations. We are committed to forging an Army After Next that has the capabilities to execute a broad range of missions and to meet the challenges of an uncertain world.


In many ways, the 21st century began for America's Army with the conclusion of the Cold War. Many challenges already face the Army, and will continue to do so in the years ahead. We are preparing for those challenges every day; the evolution into a 21st century force with the capabilities for continued full spectrum dominance is an attempt to meet head-on the warfighting and affordability challenges of the new century. The future Army will provide American soldiers with unprecedented advantages, combining the latest technology with those elements of character that have long made America's Army a formidable foe. We must always remember, however, that even in the information age, war will remain a human endeavor characterized by the shedding of blood and by the effects of chance. It will not be remote, bloodless, or risk-free -- it will still be war. And, ultimately, wars are won by soldiers on the ground -- the force of decision.

Foreword | Executive Summary | 1.America's Army | 2.A Changed Army | 3.Resources | 4.Balancing Priorities | 5.Into the 21st Century | Acronyms

last updated: 19970317