YUMA PROVING GROUND, Ariz.-- The Army’s senior civilian and uniformed leaders visited U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground on September 23 to witness the capstone capabilities demonstration of the 2020 iteration of Project Convergence.Both Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville characterized the demonstration held at U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground as one that will have substantial impact on the Army for decades to come.“Today exceeded any expectation I personally could have had about where we are in the process of Project Convergence,” said McCarthy in remarks at a media roundtable held at YPG after the demonstration. “If you think about having a discussion with General Murray about this concept just over eight months ago and being able to bring these elements to bear and put it into the form of a real experiment is truly remarkable.”“This is a major step forward in transforming the United States Army for the next 40 years,” added McConville. “We’ll be working with our joint partners and coalition partners to make this all happen. This is a significant event, and I’m real proud of the Yuma team that supported all those who came in to make this happen.”The demonstrations at YPG utilized cutting-edge equipment from five of the Army Futures Command’s cross-functional teams (CFTs), which were created to each focus on an Army modernization priority. YPG testing has actively supported six of the eight CFTs since AFC was stood up in 2018. The capstone PC capabilities demonstrations took many months of pre-planning and six weeks of active set-up, testing, and data collection, during which time in excess of 900 personnel from all across the Army came at some point to YPG. Though multiple pieces of equipment were used in tandem in realistic scenarios on YPG’s rugged ranges, PC’s leaders emphasized that the real emphasis was to dramatically reduce the amount of time between identifying and successfully prosecuting a target—from minutes today to seconds in the future.“We didn’t come out here for a precision fires exercise, we came here to increase the speed of information between sensing a target and passing that information to the effector,” said Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, Next Generation Combat Vehicle CFT director.The demonstration was particularly noted for using artificial intelligence and machine learning in several ways: Ground robots paired with UAS digitally mapped and transmitted images of the terrain, AI was used for target recognition and to autonomously conduct ground intelligence and deploy sensors, and machine learning to train algorithms on identification of various types of targets.“We know that on every future battlefield, the commander that can best utilize autonomy, artificial intelligence, and robotics will have an advantage of decision space and time without putting Soldiers in harm’s way unnecessarily—a robot can get out in front and do the really dirty jobs,” said Coffman.Across the six weeks on Yuma’s ranges, testers were able to make changes and improvements to computer algorithms in real time, another example of the proving ground’s status as a natural environment laboratory.“When we identified something that wasn’t working right or when we identified an opportunity, we had the computer expertise on station to recode the computer programs or algorithms to make it better on the spot,” said Coffman. “You had young men and women who are very exceptional in this area sitting next to an operator and iterating and iterating until we got what we wanted.”That most of the items were not yet an Army program of record will likely mean significant cost savings to the American taxpayer as well.“The ability to take things out in the dirt and ‘try before you buy’ will pay huge dividends in the future,” said Gen. John Murray, U.S. Army Futures Command commanding general.Though artificial intelligence and machine learning are likely to be important aspects of future warfare, officials were quick to point out that human beings will still be the ultimate decision makers on a battlefield—machines will help humans obtain and process the information to make decisions more rapidly.“There are some things that machines just do better and faster than humans do,” said Murray. “A lot of this is keeping humans in the loop and allowing them to do what they do best and allowing machines to do what they do best.”Officials stressed that the information gathered and lessons learned during Project Convergence 20 will influence Army acquisitions and doctrine for decades to come.“This may be not only be the most important thing Army Futures Command is working on, it may be the most important thing the Army is doing today,” said Murray.