ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Army constantly works under four types of readiness conditions to ensure Soldiers at every echelon are prepared for missions around the world, the service’s top operations officer said Wednesday.
At any given time, the Army is responding to competition, crisis, conflict and change, Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, head of the Army’s G-3/5/7 office, said as part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Noon Report series.
“It’s really about a set of conditions that we have to operate in all the time and they’re overlapping,” he said. “At the end of the day, the United States Army builds readiness to win.”
The Army is currently engaged in long-term strategic competition, mainly with Russia and China, but also with North Korea, Iran and violent extremist groups, he said.
“We compete within a framework of having access, presence and influence,” he said. “And we do that at every echelon -- at the tactical, operational and the strategic.”
Soldiers use terrestrial, aerial and space layers to conduct activities with allies and partners in over 180 countries to deter threats. Activities include cyber, electronic warfare and information operations as well as training exercises, he said.
“We compete by conducting joint interoperability day-to-day operations,” the general said. “We do this to try to maintain that strategic predictability with our allies and partners, while at the same time being operationally unpredictable.”
Last year, the Army had over 80 brigade-sized movements as part of those activities that help the service win without fighting.
“That is an enormous activity that we do to compete as a military, as an Army, with the joint force across the globe,” Flynn said.
Dynamic force employments have recently played a large role under this readiness condition. So far this year, there have been three such large-scale missions using assets in every domain.
First, Soldiers deployed to the Middle East in response to Iran aggression after the U.S. killed one of its top military generals.
Soldiers have also been deployed to battle the COVID-19 pandemic across the country. “It’s unprecedented and unparalleled,” Flynn said of the response. “There was an enormously complex operation that was conducted only because the Army is always ready in crisis to respond to these unplanned events.”
Lastly, the Army was called on to support civil authorities following nationwide protests of racial injustice.
“This work gets done through all of our commands,” Flynn said. “It gets done at every echelon.”
The readiness forged during competition and crisis missions can then prepare Soldiers for potential conflicts.
“This is where the Army has to be prepared for war,” he said, “and we always have to be ready for that war.”
Flynn credited previous work in achieving the highest levels of tactical readiness for the Army’s brigade combat teams, but noted it is also “laser focused” on readiness at the operational and strategic levels.
Efforts to roll out updated professional military education, as well as warfighter exercises, joint task force certifications and joint warfighting assessments help build operational readiness.
The Army has also reactivated the V Corps headquarters, which plans to be fully manned and equipped by October at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The headquarters will bring more command and control support to missions in Europe.
“We do all this at the operational level of war, so we can then harvest their success at the strategic level,” Flynn said.
Army pre-positioned stocks also provide the Army the ability to conduct strategic movement while supporting operational maneuver.
“We do this at speed; we do this at scale,” he said. “We do this in any theater so that we can mobilize, deploy and sustain those forces anytime, anywhere in support of any geographical combatant commander.”
The Defender exercise series, the first of which was conducted in Europe this year, is another way to build strategic readiness. The exercise is being planned for the Indo-Pacific region next year, followed by a Global Defender in 2022 that will be conducted in both regions and the U.S.
“This is invaluable planning and it builds in muscle memory for the Army to again support our allies and partners, but also work on our war winning competencies at echelon,” he said.
Finally, future readiness requires a transformational change. This is where the Army must adapt and innovate to new conditions, according to the general.
“Our future readiness depends on the simultaneity of modernizing the force for the future, while also meeting the current demands and having ready forces at the tactical and operational level,” he said.
The service continues to set conditions for change, including Army Futures Command’s work on “AimPoint Force,” which will steer and focus modernization efforts to achieve a multi-domain ready force by 2035.
As part of that, Multi-Domain Task Forces are being created to experiment with new technology and concepts.
Another tenet in future readiness, he said, is joint convergence. That will allow for cross-domain synergy and joint kill chains under a mesh network of mission command, where any sensor, shooter and command and control node can enable the joint force to win decisively.
Most importantly, though, people will drive each pillar of Army readiness.
“They are the foundation of the Army,” Flynn said. “Ready people equals a ready Army.”