A team of observer/analysts led by the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command recently spent several weeks in Europe to assess four new Army formations, designed for a future fight in all domains.
As part of the Defender Europe 22 Rehearsal of Concept Drill in June in Weisbaden, Germany, the team assessed four future formations, two of which are still in the development phase. Headquartered in Weisbaden are the Theater Fires Command — whose duties were taken on by the recently re-activated 56th Artillery Command — and the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force. The two formations still under development are the Theater Information Advantage Element and the Theater Strike Effects Element.
The four formations were assessed specifically on how they should be tailored differently for the European area of operations. An assessment of the formations’ capabilities in the Pacific area of operations was done as part of Joint Warfighting Assessment 21. The formations are critical as the Army moves toward multi-domain operations to be dominant in all warfighting domains — land, air, sea, space and cyberspace.
Maj. David Lee Clayton of the Training and Doctrine Command Proponent Office-Echelons Above Brigade participated in the assessment to help JMC develop insights, but also to take the lessons learned back to the Combined Arms Center to inform the prioritization and requirements determination.
“Theater armies used to be fielded straight across the board; nothing was tailored,” Clayton said. “With Army 2030, we’re taking a different approach. All our redesigns start off with every AOR is different, every operational environment is different, and they need to be tailored for those purposes. Especially when you look at EUCOM versus USARPAC, they require different capabilities. So when we redesign now, we design them taking in those operational requirements. As these enabling formations come online, we account for the changing operational environment.”
Maj. David “Shane” Quinty, operations officer, Cyber Capability Development Integration Directorate, helped JMC assess the future capabilities of a Theater Information Advantage Element. The potential formation would employ its capabilities to enable decision-making, protect Army information, inform and educate domestic audiences, inform and influence international audiences and conduct information attacks on our adversaries.
The experiment helped clarify how the capabilities of a TIAE would fit into the larger picture of what information capabilities a commander at the theater level would want to have available, Quinty said.
“We made some really good relationships with the staff here at U.S. Army Europe, as well as the 56th Artillery Command,” he said. “We were able to meet with the command team and the commanding general of the 56th, as well as the Multi-Domain Task Force. So it provided us with understanding as to how they see themselves fighting out here, which allows us to ensure that we are developing capabilities that are relevant to them.”
A future Theater Strike Effects Element is being designed to coordinate and integrate space capabilities with the Theater Fires Command. Maj. Eric William Olson, integration officer, Space and Missile Defense Command Center of Excellence, described his role in helping JMC assess the capabilities of a TSEE.
“I’ve been assessing the required relationships, from POTUS all the way down to the execution itself,” Olson said. “Not just authorities, but actual actions on the objective, TTPs, things of that nature. How will they integrate with these units under which we intend to put them, specifically Theater Fires Command? What are their relationships with sister units? If we’re talking non-kinetic effects, that’s something we need to consider, that there are other operations going on throughout the theater. It’s not as cut and dried as we initially thought it might be. So this assessment is a great way to get after this, and we’re learning more than we probably bargained for by actually speaking to the MDTF through some of their actual targeting processes.”
Exercises and assessments like Joint Warfighting Assessment and Defender Europe have moved the Army closer to successfully employing multi-domain operations, Olson said.
“The question on a lot of our minds in the space domain is, Are we ready to utilize these exquisite capabilities?” Olson said. “I believe the answer is yes. I think the appetite is absolutely there. I think risk aversion is … I won’t say melted away entirely, that would be too bold of a statement, but we have certainly managed it and briefed these well enough that senior leaders now understand this is an incredibly potent capability. … We’re actually conducting rehearsal. We are synchronizing. That’s impressive. It may not be ones and zeros and wizardry, but it’s most certainly the right step forward in front of senior leaders, with the actual commanders to talk it through.”
An important part of JMC’s assessment of future formations and future capabilities is having real-world units participate in the assessments. During the Defender Europe 22 ROC Drill, the 56th Artillery Command took a large role in looking at how a Theater Fires Command should operate. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fuller, deputy fires support coordinator, 56th Artillery Command, said the command was heavily invested in the modernization assessment.
“By having the actual units, you’re actually talking to the people who think day in and day out about how they integrate themselves,” Fuller said. “So, it’s a little more personal; they’re a little more vested in the how, not just the end product.”
Lt. Col. Derek Bothern, space superiority branch chief, Space and Missile Defense Center of Excellence, agreed that having real-world units and Soldiers as part of modernization experimentation was a key to its success.
“The biggest thing is, as a former battalion commander, and as a commander and a Soldier in the Army, it’s good to see that we do these levels of experimentation to make sure that we are getting it right,” Bothern said. “It’s not just somebody in the basement of a building, making a decision without any inputs. The good part about these experimentations is we’re not just getting the inputs from the Centers of Excellence, but we’re getting the inputs from the Soldiers and the commanders.”
Toward the end of the experiment, Doug Fletcher, JMC’s chief of staff, thanked the participants for their help in getting modernization right for the Army.
“Your efforts are important to the future of the Army,” he said. “You are here because we want to know your thoughts and assessments on these future formations. Doing these experiments in theater solves problems, and we appreciate your help in solving these problems.”
The Defender Europe 22 ROC Drill culminated on June 16 as leaders got together to talk through issues and ideas they have about how the Army will fight a potential future conflict. The Army Modernization Enterprise continues to experiment, looking years into the future to make sure our Soldiers are equipped and led the best way possible.