By Joe Lacdan, Army News ServiceMarch 5, 2019
WASHINGTON -- Big changes may soon be coming to the service's force structure, Army leaders said Monday.
More on the extent of those proposed changes could be revealed next week with the fiscal year 2020 budget request, said Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, head of Army Futures Command's Futures and Concepts Center.
Wesley and Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy discussed the future realignment of the Army's force structure during a press briefing at the Center for New American Security in Washington, D.C.
"There's going to be a fundamental change in the organizational structure to fight (in multi domains)," Wesley said. "In large-scale ground combat operations, it's particular in the future operating environment. It's going to require echelons above brigade, all of which will solve unique and distinct problems that a given (brigade combat team) can't solve by itself."
McCarthy also said there are plans to realign more than $30 billion in the budget over the next five years toward modernization efforts. This, in turn, will help engage potential adversaries in the future multi-domain battlefield, he said.
Funding for certain weapons systems, he added, will need to be cut to meet those goals, but he did not specify which programs.
The Army is expected to release its fiscal 2020 budget proposal March 12, which calls for an increase in spending for its six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, future vertical lift, next-generation combat vehicle, Soldier lethality, air and missile defense, and network.
The Army's $30 billion realignment falls in line with the National Defense Strategy, McCarthy said. Released by former Defense Secretary James Mattis early last year, the NDS focuses on restoring America's competitive edge over its near-peer adversaries.
"We'll see substantial moves," McCarthy said. "Some of the biggest moves that we're making in order to make this shift toward near-peer great power competition … is in the way we're modernizing the force."
In order to prepare for those potential adversaries, McCarthy said half of the Army's brigades are maintaining a "high state of readiness," with more training, exercises and war games in the past 18 months. The Army also continues to build its cybersecurity capabilities.
The emergence of Russia and China as potential peer adversaries has created a new type of threat, challenging the U.S. in multiple domains, including through cyberattacks.
Additionally, Soldiers have been training for combat in urban areas, such as megacities with large populations. As outlined in the Army's most recent field manual 3-0, the service plans to prepare more toward large-scale ground combat operations in contrast to recent close-quarter battles with Middle East insurgents.
Wesley said the National Defense Strategy acknowledges the challenges U.S. forces may face in areas they have dominated for 30 years. Russia and China have potentially closed the competitive gap, Army officials have acknowledged.
"We, as a nation, are used to dominating those domains," Wesley said. "It's not even a question to us. If we deployed to a given theater, we know we own the air, we own the sea lanes … we don't worry about those things.
"Our expectations have been softened. That won't be true in the future."
Wesley said that multi-domain operations is inherently a joint operations concept and requires cooperation across the four military branches. The general added that finding the proper balance between units permanently stationed in theater and those deployable from the home front will be key.