WASHINGTON -- The draft ended, and America began to withdraw from Vietnam, January 1973. Creating and maintaining the technological edge in weapons and equipment became the Army's top priority.
As America's defense policy reoriented, the Army underwent an exhaustive modernization of its combat arms and aviation units through training reform, weapons, equipment, and force modernization, revising its doctrine at the beginning phases of a new strategic order. Training & Doctrine Command (TRADOC) and Forces Command (FORSCOM) emerged.
The Army's technological edge in weapons and equipment was and still is essential to ensure national security. "Our competitors are seeking to alter global strategic realities for their benefit, often at the expense of the U.S.' interests and those of our allies and partners," Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper said in his opening statement to the House Appropriations Committee, March 20.
The Army's current competitive advantage relies on its Soldiers' ability to deploy anywhere, anytime rapidly, and produce a combat-credible deterrent against potential adversaries.
While a significant advantage of having, some of the critical challenges are to define our requirements and then implement them.
Over the past 30-plus years, the M1 Abrams tank, M2 and M3 Bradley fighting vehicles, the UH-60 Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache helicopters, and the MIM-104 Patriot air defense missile were developed and fielded. However, in the past quarter-century, the Army ceased to innovate, and with a severe decrease in readiness, this technology has become antiquated and overmatched.
"Modernizing today's equipment will align us to the future battlefield," Dr. Esper said. The Army of 2028 will be ready to deploy, fight and win decisively against any adversary, anytime and anywhere, in a joint, multi-domain, high-intensity conflict, while simultaneously deterring others and maintaining its ability to conduct irregular warfare.
To do this, we cannot turn to the past. Instead, we must look forward to our ability to man, organize, train, equip, and lead future Soldiers. Trusting and empowering subordinate leaders will facilitate both reform and higher performance. "We need to tap the talent of all the American people," said Dr. Esper. "We need to reach out to traditional industry and non-traditional" to forge the road ahead.
"We have to change the character of warfare in our favor," the secretary added while outlining his six priorities for Army modernization: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Lift, Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality.
The current global security challenges are quickly elevating, and the Army can best prepare itself by increasing capacity, training, and correcting critical gaps resulting in a far more lethal Army. Ready now and prepared for the future. We must prepare for the toughest fight. We must now build the Army of 2028.