AUSTIN, Texas – Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, announced the centerpiece of the Army’s campaign of learning that will drive the transformational advancement of the Army modernization priorities and integration into Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control at the Center for New American Security, Sept. 10.
Dubbed “Project Convergence” this campaign ensures the Army, as part of the joint force, can rapidly and continuously converge effects across all domains – air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace – to overmatch our adversaries in competition and conflict.
In practice, the Army is continuously testing and demonstrating capabilities in the areas of people, weapons systems, information, command and control, and terrain to assess areas of advancement and identify areas for improvement.
Project Convergence centers on delivering data and cloud technologies to the tactical command and is rooted in an overarching requirement to reduce the time in combat decision-cycles.
“We don’t know what future conflicts our nation will be involved in,” said Murray. “But, we know that if we try to fight the next 20 years the same way we’ve fought the last 20 years, we’re going to be too slow to be competitive – in some ways we already are.”
“Constantly measuring our current capabilities against an unknown-future threat is exactly what AFC was created to do, and Project Convergence is how we’re going to do it.”
As part of the Army Modernization Strategy, the Army has emphasized its focus on becoming Multi-Domain Operations-capable by 2035. One of the tenants of MDO is convergence – or the ability to integrate effects across the five domains to decisively overmatch any adversary in conflict. Assessments of the future operating environment allowed the Army to identify six modernization priorities, and led to the development of AFC’s Cross-Functional Teams: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicle, Air and Missile Defense, Future Vertical Lift, Army Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality. Additional CFTs lead the Army’s efforts in Synthetic Training Environment and Assured Position, Navigation, and Timing.
“When you look at the individual efforts of the Cross-Functional Teams and the labs and centers, it’s impressive how far we have come in the past two years,” Murray said, “But unless all of those systems can talk and work together, it’s going to limit our ability to effectively integrate into joint and allied systems.”
“We couldn’t afford to wait any longer,” Murray said. “Understanding now where to focus our efforts, we’re bringing all of these capabilities along together the right way.”
The CFTs will integrate emerging artificial intelligence technologies in an operational context to yield measurable and accountable outcomes. These outcomes inform Army force disposition and how we organize for combat; highlight opportunities to optimize operational processes; evolve how we visualize, describe, decide, and direct; and build trust in those emergent technologies.
“The future of conflict is going to happen fast,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Richardson, deputy commanding general of AFC. “We have to be able to make decisions in minutes in places where it used to take days.”
“The more we can automate and learn, the more we can ensure that we’re placing Soldiers in the right place, at the right time, to deter – or when necessary, overmatch – any adversary.”
Throughout the year, these structured experiments and demonstrations will occur as often as every two weeks, culminating an in annual capstone event at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. That capstone event is currently ongoing and will conclude on Sept. 18, with two distinguished visitor days on Sept. 21 and 23.
“Bringing together functions and capabilities is a critical piece to all of this,” said Richardson. “Normally, we’re dispersed across the United States, so there’s only so much interfacing these systems can do remotely. Even simple things like ensuring communications equipment fits inside of a helicopter or vehicle lets us see where to sustain or increase our focus.”
These distinguished visitor days will help unify Army senior leaders on the goal of Project Convergence, as well as ensure a common understanding for the process Army Futures Command is employing to discover and deliver solutions or the joint force.
The Project Convergence capstone in 2020 separates capabilities by where they could be employed in the following phases of Multi-Domain Operations:
1. Compete to expand the competitive space by enabling the defeat of information and unconventional warfare, conducting intelligence and counter-adversary reconnaissance, and the demonstration of credible deterrence.
2. Penetrate strategic and operational stand-off by neutralizing enemy long-range systems, contesting enemy maneuver forces, and maneuvering from operational and strategic distances.
3. Dis-integrate the enemy’s anti-access and area denial systems by defeating enemy long- and short-range systems, conducting independent maneuver and deception operations.
4. Exploit freedom of maneuver to defeat enemy objectives by neutralizing enemy mid- and short-range systems, and isolate and defeat enemy maneuver forces.
5. Re-compete to consolidate and expand gains and physically secure terrain and populations which can enable sustainable outcomes with partners and set conditions for long-term deterrence.
Information about specific capabilities and their role in MDO will be released in the coming weeks.
These capstone events are designed to not just assess how far the Army has come, but also inform the areas for further research and testing in the coming year. By operating within the MDO-context, Army scientists and engineers can simulate how the Army plans to fight a future conflict and stress the current capability to fight and win in those scenarios.
“Like any scientific venture, you learn so much through experimentation,” said Murray. “AFC has always said that if we’re going to fail, we need to fail fast, learn, and get it right the next time. So Project Convergence isn’t about always getting it right, it’s about understanding where our opportunities and vulnerabilities are now – before we ask Soldiers to employ these capabilities in combat.”
During the 2020 Association of the United States Army Annual conference Army Futures Command will lead a contemporary military forum on the topic of Project Convergence and outline AFC’s vision to incorporate joint partners during the 2021 capstone, and allied forces in 2022.
“We know we’re not going to be alone in a future conflict, so what can we do now that enables deterrence and victory later?” Richardson said. “For us, that means bringing everyone in early and learning as much as we can to close the gap between the science available and the future threat.”