HUNTSVILLE, Ala. --- With the announcement of the Army's $182.3 billion fiscal year 2020 budget request, readiness and modernization continue to be the Army's top priorities, as the force looks to the future of multi-domain operations.

Under Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy spoke briefly about the Army's FY20 budget plan during the Association of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium Tuesday.

During his opening address, McCarthy mentioned the fiscal year 2018 and 2019 budgets, highlighting the positive impact the approved spending plans had on the force.

Over the past two fiscal years, more than 25 brigade combat teams have reached the highest level of readiness. This was a stark contrast to when the Army had only two BCTs at optimal readiness levels, a year prior, he said.

Additionally, leadership locked in the force's modernization priorities and created Army Futures Command last year, McCarthy said.

"I think the other thing that has fundamentally changed is the Army's willingness to admit that we had a problem," said Gen. John M. Murray, AFC commanding general.

"We stood up and said, 'we have a problem, and we have to fix it,' and that resulted in the largest modernization effort the United States Army has seen since 1973."

Moreover, leaders made several changes to the Army's intellectual property management policy and reformed the Army's acquisition process.

"The results speak for themselves," he said. "Requirements definition was taking five to seven years. We are getting it down to 18 months or less."

Moving forward, the Army would like to continue to use the commercial sector's research and development, and science and technology communities, to support the Army's modernization effort, Murray said.

"Our reliance on the traditional defense industry to do things at scale and produce the things that we need has not changed, and will not change," Murray said. We will continue to rely on [the defense industry's] work to produce what we need."

In sum, the changes made today will support the Army of the future, McCarthy said.

Overall, advancements in technology by the Army's cross-functional teams and the impact of future Army budgets will influence the Army's ability to create a force capable of multi-domain operations by 2028, followed by an MDO-ready force in 2035, Murray said.

"CFT efforts … are fully funded, and will remain fully funded," Murray said. "We will continue to align our (science and technology and research, development, test, and evaluation) resources to make sure they are aligned against the Army's priorities."

"It's about our children. It's about our grandchildren and making sure that they're able to fight and defend in a very complex … lethal battlefield, and bring their Soldiers home," he said.

CHANGING CHARACTER OF WAR

As near-peer adversaries continue to increase competition across all domains, the future battlefield is becoming more complex. In turn, the Army cannot afford to wait long periods to generate a concept and move it into doctrine, said Gen. Robert B. Brown, U.S. Army Pacific commanding general.

U.S Army Pacific has played a significant role in supporting the Army's MDO effort through the Multi-Domain Task Force and the future implementation of the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare, and Space battalion.

"The Multi-Domain Task Force is a maneuver formation. Initially we thought of a more … strategic fires cell, and realized it must be able to maneuver to a position of relative advantage -- to close with and destroy the enemy."

Moving forward, convergence will be critical to MDO, Brown said.

MDO is about "pulling capabilities together. A joint integration -- including multinational capabilities -- in all domains to help optimize the effects and overmatch."

The Army's near-peer competitors, however, have invested "asymmetrically in all domains" and can now cause problems, added Lt. Gen Eric J. Wesley, AFC deputy commanding general and head of the Army Futures Concept Center.

"So what [our near-peer competitors] have been able to do is achieve their operational and strategic objectives in 'fait accompli' victories that have diluted the deterrent effect that we've relied on for the last 50 or 60 years," Wesley said.

"If the United States and our partners and allies do not get into the competition space, we will find that our deterrent effect and our ability to achieve our strategic and operational objectives over time will continue to diminish," he said.

The implementation of MDO is more than adding a few domains and calling it an operating concept, Wesley explained. To succeed, the joint force and its allies must integrate and layer all domains to generate overmatch.

"With air-land battle, we had interior lines and … you had to fight, outnumber and win, [then] defeat the second echelon. That's not the problem we have today. The problem is the multiple layers of standoff that we have to penetrate in order to disintegrate those systems and get to the position of advantage," he said.