HONOLULU — As the world’s militaries modernize and upgrade their capabilities in multiple domains, Army Future Command’s top leader said that U.S. forces must continually adapt to keep pace with constant change.
Speaking during the 2023 Land Forces Pacific Symposium May 18, Gen. Jim Rainey, AFC commander, said the Army and partner land forces face a pivotal time in military history unlike any since the years between World War I and World War II.
“I think this is probably the most disruptive period of time in terms of the character of war — the most rapid and fastest change,” said Rainey who has led AFC from its headquarters in Austin, Texas, since October 2022.
Speaking to an audience that included military representatives from 30 nations, Rainey said that in order for militaries to prepare for future operations they must first identify what remains constant.
He said that war at its core remains the same; a test of will between human beings. He added that land is a decisive element of war because it harbors the most assets and it is where populations live. Rainey said that land serves as the foundation for most multi-domain capabilities.
Next, Rainey said that the U.S. Army’s people and the quality of its non-commissioned officer corps gives American forces an edge over adversaries. The Army has continually prioritized its people since introducing its People Strategy in 2019 which changed the way the service acquires, develops and retains talent.
Additionally, the Army must be “ruthless” in its training, Rainey said. The Army, particularly in U.S. Army Pacific Command, has continually challenged Soldiers and partner nations in its training including the recent creation of the Joint Pacific Multinational Readiness Center in Hawaii and Alaska.
“I’ve been blessed, I’ve never lost a fight in combat, but I’ve got my butt kicked [at] every training center we have,” Rainey said.
Next, Rainey said that armies must win the “pre-conflict conflict,” by focusing on deterrence. The Army must shape long distance weapons by consolidating offensive and defensive fires into one system. Rainey said that delivery of cross-domain fires will be integral to a defensive approach to deterrence.
“Nobody's going to win a war between nuclear-equipped superpowers, somebody will prevail, I’m confident that it would be us,” Rainey said. “But at a cost; it'll just be horrific and change our ways of life fundamentally. So this is ultimately about deterring people deciding that it is not in their interest to fight.”
Rainey said that systems warfare and developing one that operates at a speed faster than the enemy will be key to gain leverage over adversaries.
“So not only have we got to be better, but 10-12 times faster,” Rainey said.
Rainey, who leads the Army’s modernization efforts, said while upgrading the force with cutting edge technologies remains important, the service should not lose sight of technological capabilities already available.
“The technology that exists today, combined the right combination of human beings and machines — not replacing humans with machines, but we should be optimizing our men and women for decision-making, values-based behavior on the battlefield — the things that machines are never going to do.”
Finally, Rainey advised Army leaders to remain vigilant while building the Army of 2030 and beyond. U.S. Army Pacific commander, Gen. Charles Flynn said Rainey’s knowledge as the leader of the Army’s future modernization efforts will help guide Army leaders as they weigh the long-term effects of their choices.
“Leaders have to live in the future,” Flynn said. “Because we are accountable for that future. The decisions we make, impact young Soldiers.”