WASHINGTON — As the sun sets on the past 20 years of the Global War on Terrorism, the U.S. Army is looking to the future and how it will adapt to an ever-changing battlefield with near-peer adversaries.
During a panel at the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Expo, top Army leaders discussed their thoughts and some of their plans about the Army of 2030.
“We’re coming out of 20 years of irregular warfare — counter-terrorism, counter insurgency — and we recognize … that we need to be able to fight large-scale combat operations in a multidomain operations environment where we're contested in every domain,” said Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army. “It’s not about fighting the last fight better, it’s about winning the next fight, and winning that fight so decisively that no one wants to fight us.”
The panel consisted of retired Gen. David Perkins as the moderator; Gen. James Rainey, Army Futures Command commander; Mario Diaz, Deputy Under Secretary of the Army; Lt. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr., Combined Arms Center commander; and Jim Greer, Combined Arms Center thought leader.
“We have been directed to transform the Army on a sustainable strategic path to a [multidomain operations] capable Army while maintaining combat credible forces every single day,” Rainey said. “This is about continuing to stay the best armed force.”
“We don’t have unlimited resources, so we’ve got to make smart decisions; we’ve got to use our resources that our great taxpayers give us wisely,” Rainey said.
To achieve the Army of 2030, top Army officials have identified the Army must meet certain criteria: the ability to sense further than adversaries; to rapidly deploy combat forces to overwhelm adversaries; precisely hit targets from longer ranges; protect forces from air, missile and drone attacks; be more secure from cyber-attacks; and building the ability to sustain fights across contested terrain.
“The secretary is very laser-focused on the Army of 2030,” Diaz said. “Putting the Army on a strategically sustainable path that is both a fiscal and cognitive mindset and construct that we have to maintain … aware of what the budget allocations are and more importantly how we make change over time.”
“If you want to drive change, if you want to lead change, you have to start with doctrine,” Beagle said. “You have to understand where doctrine comes from; it comes from our concepts; it comes from experimentation at a very rigorous level.”
According to McConville, the Army goes through a transformation about every 40 years, and this new evolution of the Army is aimed at their key capabilities on land, in the air, sea, space and cyberspace.
A transformation like this needs to achieve several points outlined in an analysis called DOTMLPF-P, which stands for: doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel, facilities, and policy. The DOTMLPF-P identifies and recommends where gaps in needs may be.
“Army of 2030 … is the full DOTMLPF-P solution to a complicated problem,” Rainey said. “It’s everything, it’s doctrine, it’s building the leaders that we need to fight these formations and win, it’s our professional education.”
To achieve the transformation, the Army is going to invest in people, reorganize of forces, get new equipment, and adopt new how-to-fight concepts.
One of the top priorities for the Army has remained the Soldiers within its formations: people. Because of the transformation, the Army has had to reevaluate the way it recruits, trains and educates Soldiers for the evolving battlefield.
“If you’re a military professional … we have a moral responsibility to make sure the men and women who do the hardest part of what we do have the best possible equipment,” Rainey said.
“[Army 2030] is full DOTMLPF-P, especially the first P, because the Army is people, and making sure the men and women that are our most precious, most valuable asset and our most lethal weapon systems always stay at the forefront,” he said.
The Army of 2030 will assess skills education, experiences, and personal attributes to better match Soldiers to positions. The Army is also investing in programs and education to help improve leaders as well leveraging use of virtual reality and simulations to train in realistic environments.
“It’s not only about the Army 2030 needing the right equipment; it’s about needing the right people and delivering them in the right formations,” Diaz said.
During the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army focused on brigades rotating in and out of the theater. Now, the Army is shifting to use larger formations that can work more effectively with other services as well as allies.
“Over the last decade, we have been gradually transitioning from the counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism,” Greer said. “We haven’t really come to grips with what large-scale combat operations is: just because we haven’t seen the scope and the scale of large-scale combat operations really since 2003.”
The focus on corps and divisions will change how the Army will allocate personnel and equipment to disrupt and defeat adversaries.
“We’ve had the luxury of being largely two-dimensional for at least 40 years, if not longer, because of the dominance of our Air Force and our air power over the battle space,” said Greer. “That’s changed considerably. We have to be more adept at being more three-dimensional.”
The change from fighting insurgents to near-peer adversaries requires an adaptation to technology and the abilities of those adversaries. Using all the assets of land, air, sea, space and cyberspace will ensure the disruption of enemy action.
“As defined in our new doctrine, FM 3-0, [multidomain operations] is the combined arms employment of joint and Army capabilities to exploit or to create relative advantages that do three things: they achieve objectives, they defeat enemy forces or consolidate gains for the joint force command,” Beagle said. “[A domain] is physical. It allows [commanders] to see both friendly and enemy capabilities. They understand the domains through the lens of three-dimensions: information, human and physical.”
To achieve effective use of forward positioned ground forces, the force must be equipped.
“The Army will play a key role in any potential conflict, and it will be the linchpin force,” Diaz said.
To that end, the Army has and is developing more advanced equipment and cutting-edge technologies such as: sensors that will allow forces to see more farther way; faster, stronger vehicles as well as robotic systems; new missiles able to travel at hypersonic speeds; high-energy lasers and microwaves for short-range air-defense systems; getting information to commanders at all levels faster; and transforming how the Army sustains fights with support elements.
“With all the technology, it’s still about people — it’s about Soldiers,” McConville said. “I’m excited about where the Army is going.”