Thank you, Professor Clarke for the introduction. I’m so pleased to be back in London, and especially delighted to be here at RUSI among allies, partners, and colleagues.
GEN Sanders, Chiefs of the Army [from Georgia, Nigeria, Romania, Lithuania, Poland (CHOD)], our allies and partners in Europe, the Middle East as well as the Indo-Pacific –it is a pleasure to be here with you, thank you so much for joining in person and virtually.
In the first half of this year, I spent a lot of my time visiting our troops at Army installations across the United States. This is my first overseas trip of 2022, and I note this because I find it fitting that my first international stop is here in the United Kingdom.
The U.S.-UK special relationship runs long and deep, and in times of crisis our relationship has proven to be resilient and strong, and our unified response to Russia’s invasion on Ukraine is no different.
I would add that RUSI itself further demonstrates our strong bilateral ties in its choice of an American Director-General: Dr. Karen Von Hippel.
I’ve often described the United States and the Army as being at a strategic crossroads as we transform and modernize for the future.
In that context and in light of Russia’s unilateral attempt to try and change the status quo through violence, this year’s ground forces symposium is especially relevant and timely.
As this audience knows well – without question – ground forces have long played a vital role in war and in achieving decisive victory.
At the height of U.S. counterinsurgency/counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, the Army was a visible part of American discourse – on television, in the headlines every day, and in the movies. The Army had a clearly defined role and perceived value in American society.
But in the last few years, as the global focus shifted to the Indo-Pacific region and the pacing challenge presented by China, the role of ground forces has become less clear to many Americans.
In some policy circles there are those that argue that ground forces are not as relevant as air and maritime forces, especially in the context of a rising China.
The imperative to modernize the US nuclear triad combined with other pressures on the defense budget led some air and maritime advocates to question how big the Army’s budget really needed to be compared to the other services.
I imagine that many of the countries and armies represented in this room can relate to some of these pressures and have heard similar arguments about the decline in perceived value and relevance of ground forces.
Throughout the Department of Defense’s formulation of our new National Defense Strategy, I argued for the continued need to focus on Russia as an acute threat, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drove home this reality fully.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reinforces the continued value and need for highly trained, modernized ground forces – but also is an opportunity to learn new lessons about peer nation conflict. More on that later.
As this audience of national and international security professionals knows well, the wars of the future won’t be fought in one or two domains by one or two service branches, but rather will be fought across multiple domains (land, air, sea, space, cyber). Future wars will require joint operations and will almost certainly feature combined joint operations including our allies and partners.
I think Churchill said it best in his speech “We Shall fight on the beaches” when he declared “…we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, [we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be], we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
I am not the orator he was but if he were giving that speech today, I’m sure he would rally us to defend our assets in space, defend our networks, and fight forward in the information and cyber domains.
In both world wars, land armies played a decisive role whether it was in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign of 1918, or on D-Day on the beaches of Normandy. Land armies will continue to play a decisive role as part of the joint combined force, and together we will defend every inch of NATO territory now and in the future.
The Army’s role in the NDS
Today, given this audience of international Armies, and security experts, I thought I’d begin by describing how I see the role of the U.S. Army in the recently issued National Defense Strategy, the importance of allies and partners in that strategy, and end by laying out some of what we in the U.S. Army are seeing, learning, and taking away from ongoing events in Ukraine.
The U.S. National Defense Strategy is made up of three pillars: campaigning, integrated deterrence, and building enduring advantage.
The Army has a role to play in all three of these areas.
Campaigning “enables us to gain advantage against the full range of competitors’ coercive actions” and implies being thoughtful and selective about when and where campaigning takes place. Campaigning also strengthens deterrence.
Every day, U.S. ground forces are campaigning in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific, and in other regions around the world to ensure access, presence, and influence, and to reinforce integrated deterrence.
Large-scale exercises including U.S. Army Pacific’s signature Operation Pathways exercises and U.S. Army Europe’s Defender Europe exercises are two examples of Army campaigning in support of the new National Defense Strategy.
Defender Europe 22, which just wrapped up, took place across 9 countries and included more than 3400 U.S. and 5,100 multi-national service members from 11 Allied and Partner nations. And this is on top of everything we are doing to deter aggression against NATO and assist Ukraine in defending itself.
In parallel with these exercises, our Security Force Assistance Brigades operate regularly with Armies in the region as well as all over the world.
In the last two years, 5th SFAB deployed 40 advisory teams to 14 different countries in the Indo-Pacific. Not only do these teams build interoperability, they bolster deterrence, build greater operational readiness, and increase the potential for additional access and combined action in crisis.
The second pillar of the NDS is integrated deterrence, and we strive to ensure that everything the Army is doing in campaigning today also contributes to building integrated deterrence.
Importantly, fielding combat credible forces that potential adversaries can see is one of the most important ways the Army contributes to building integrated deterrence.
And right now, Russia can see more than 50,000 Army troops in Europe, standing firm in defense of NATO territory.
But we’re not just thinking about the combat credible forces we need today; we’re also developing and building the forces we need tomorrow.
As the U.S. Army shifts strategically from two decades of counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations to near-peer competition – with China as our pacing challenge, and Russia as an acute threat, we’re updating our formations and modernizing our warfighting systems so that we are prepared to fight on the multi-domain battlefield – in support of integrated deterrence.
Multi-domain operations are fundamentally about integrating all available Army, Joint, and Allied capabilities across air, sea, space, cyberspace, and land – to accomplish the mission. It’s how we envision Army forces will campaign on a daily basis, operate during crisis, and set the conditions for success during armed conflict.
The Army is getting ready to publish a new doctrine on MDO this fall and has already fielded three new Multi-Domain Task Forces (MDTFs), one in Europe and two in the Indo-Pacific. These task forces will bring together intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, and space capabilities as well as new long range precision fire capabilities.
As we finalize this new doctrine, we continue to test new tactics, techniques, and procedures in the field – whether as part of rotations at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin or in division level exercises like Ivy Mass which I saw myself recently at Fort Carson in Colorado.
As part of our shift toward multi-domain operations, we will move from the brigade combat team to the division as the unit of action to synchronize, and mass effects across domains. As a result, we are examining what capabilities we need to bring up to the division and even corps level.
We are fully incorporating information operation into our Combat Training Center (CTC) rotations, challenging our leaders and then soldiers to adapt in real-time to disinformation and misinformation like what we have seen in the Ukraine conflict.
We are examining ways to make our command posts more mobile and survivable, and to reduce their signatures as much as possible – an important attribute as the battlefield becomes more transparent.
And we are using our capabilities in space to better enable Soldiers on the ground to shoot, move, and communicate.
We are also embarked on the most significant effort to modernize our combat forces that we’ve undertaken in the last 40 years. These new systems and capabilities will ensure we are able to fight and win in the multi-domain battlefield.
Our competitors have invested heavily in their offensive strike capabilities, particularly artillery and missiles and we won’t be operating in permissive air space. As a result, we are significantly improving and expanding our integrated air and missile defense systems.
Next generation combat vehicles like Mobile Protective Firepower and the Armored Multi-Purpose vehicle will increase the firepower, speed, and survivability of our troops on the ground, allowing them to go farther, faster and maneuver into positions of advantage on the battlefield. We are also well on our way to robotic vehicles.
As we’ve seen in Ukraine long range fires will be important in coming conflicts. We will put prototypes for multiple long range fire systems in the field in FY23 including the Precision Strike Missile and the Long Range Hypersonic Weapon.
We are also modernizing the Army’s network capabilities to ensure we can command and control ground forces distributed across vast distances. We have to be able to communicate and transmit data across not just the Army, but to the entire joint force, and to allies and partners.
And that is just some of what we are doing in terms of modernization.
The third pillar of the NDS is building enduring advantages over time through experimentation and innovation.
For the Army, Project Convergence is part of how we’re doing this work – and it’s a key element of our modernization and transformation agenda.
Through the PC series we are looking at new warfighting concepts and building increasing levels of interoperability with our sister services and our allies and partners.
PC is an opportunity for the Army to conduct larger-scale experimentation, focusing on operational scenarios that are directly relevant to challenges we would face in Europe and in the Indo-Pacific.
I’m delighted that the UK and Australia will be the first of our allies to participate in PC22 later this fall, and I look forward to more of our allies and partners participating in future years.
Allied participation in activities like PC22 is so important because we know whatever we face in the future we will need to face it together.
A combat credible US and Allied posture in Europe is vital to integrated deterrence.
NATO unity in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has really been remarkable. I know that GEN Chris Cavoli – who’ll be assuming command of SACEUR and USEUCOM this week – has engaged extensively with his land force counterparts across the theater on Allied capability gaps and new equipment procurement, and a significant increase in modernization and readiness is underway here in the UK and across the continent.
GEN Cavoli recently stated during his confirmation hearing that “our allies are our strength…” and I could not agree with him more.
Lessons Learned from Ukraine
And speaking of NATO’s unity in the face of Russian aggression, I’d like to close with a few observations and lessons learned for the Army in light of the events in Ukraine.
Fully recognizing that the Russian military learns quickly from its failures and will reconstitute in a “new and improved way” in the future, some of the Russian military’s failures that we’ve seen underscore the importance of leadership, training, and discipline.
The Russians don’t train like us, and the civilian atrocities we’ve witnessed point directly to a lack of discipline and training among their ranks.
Our NCO corps – something the Russian Army doesn’t have is directly correlated to the level of training and discipline in U.S. Army ranks.
Delegation of responsibilities down to lower echelons is something that we do very well and is a strength of the U.S. military. The Russians have struggled to adapt and show initiative at the tactical level.
Logistics, logistics, logistics. Amateurs discuss strategy and experts talk logistics.
You can be the best equipped military in the world, but if you can’t sustain your forces, it doesn’t matter. The Russian military displayed a notable deficiency in logistics and sustainment operations.
In contrast, the U.S. Army is paying considerable attention to logistics and sustainment. We are working on new concepts and investing in new capabilities like a modernized watercraft platform, but we need to do still more. As the battlefield becomes ever more transparent, supply lines and stockpiles will be more tempting targets and we need to be training and exercising to that reality.
We’re also seeing the importance of secure communications and the consequences of soldiers using their cell phones and this makes them targetable. In the future, we’re likely to face even more contested environments, and the Army will need to be very disciplined about reducing signatures whenever possible.
Events in Ukraine underscore yet again the growing drone threat. Drones and other unmanned systems pose new challenges for integrated air and missile defense, with both overseas and homeland security implications. We are investing in additional c-UAS systems, but here again there is more work to be done.
These are just a few lessons from Ukraine, and I have no doubt there are others that we need to examine and reflect on. What we see happening in Ukraine doesn’t just confirm areas where we have advantages it also points to areas where we need to ask probing questions. Many of my former colleagues in the think tank community have raised valid concerns about the survivability of tanks and aircraft as well as force preservation in protracted conflicts.
I am committed to ensuring that we in the U.S. Army approach learning the lessons from Ukraine with humility and seriousness because future success may very well depend on it.
It is such a pleasure to be with you here this afternoon. The U.S. Army is deeply committed and proud to be helping to assist Ukraine in defending itself and to be a part of NATO’s credible deterrent posture. We, like all of your armies are prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory.
Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.