There comes a time when the many Army transformation concepts, capabilities and formations being considered in the hallways and meeting rooms of Army Futures Command (AFC) need to be put to the test, in the dirt, with Soldiers. When that time comes, AFC calls on the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command (JMC).
As the Army Modernization Enterprise (AME) focuses on persistent experimentation, JMC’s skill set of planning and executing worldwide, multi-echelon, Joint and multinational experiments come to the forefront. The AME relies on JMC’s campaign of continuous learning to build a force capable of deterring, competing with, and defeating near-peer threats.
JMC is headquartered at Fort Bliss, Texas, and consists of military professionals across the spectrum of warfighting functions. JMC also has Global Operations Teams embedded with Joint Operational Commands around the world. These teams are located with U.S. Army Pacific in Hawaii, U.S. Army Europe in Germany, U.S. Air Force at Nellis AFB, U.S. Marine Corps at Quantico, and the Joint Force in Suffolk.
There are three divisions within JMC, supported by a complete General Staff and Simulations Center. Operations Group Alpha and Operations Group Bravo plan, prepare, and execute Project Convergence and Project Convergence capstone events, Joint Warfighting Assessments, and other persistent experimentation events. Using a campaign of continuous learning, both operations groups focus on concepts that operationalize Multidomain Operations as well as functional and technical interoperability while ensuring emerging technology and new capabilities are integrated into realistic scenarios. This campaign of continuous learning includes Joint and multinational forces, ensuring a focus on how we will fight in the future.
A new formation in JMC recently activated is Operations Group Zulu (OpsGrpZulu) integrates Special Operations Forces, Cyber, and Space into experiments. OGZ also delivers special staff support such as operations research, systems analysis, public affairs, strategic messaging, and Joint Visitor Bureau support.
JMC was founded as the Future Force Integration Directorate (FFID) at Fort Bliss, Texas, based on an Army Chief of Staff directive to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), on Dec. 20, 2005. FFID was established to integrate, organize, and facilitate the development, testing and evaluation of Future Combat Systems. FFID was organized as a directorate of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, a subordinate unit of TRADOC.
On 7 Feb. 2011, the Chief of Staff of the Army directed FFID’s re-designated to the Brigade Modernization Command (BMC) with the mission to conduct integration and evaluations of the Army network and capability packages. To accomplish this, BMC conducted two distinct annual events: the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) and the Army Warfighting Assessment (AWA) exercises. The NIE was a highly structured event testing Army Programs of Record, while the Joint Warfighter Assessment allowed the Army to assess interim solutions to enduring Army Warfighting Challenges.
On Feb. 7, 2017, BMC was re-designated as the U.S. Army Joint Modernization Command (JMC) and re-activated as part of the new major Army Command AFC that started up in 2018. JMC is responsible as the lead coordinator for all Project Convergence (PC) Experiments. Working under the guidance and direction from Futures and Concepts Center, AFC’s directorate responsible for experimentation, PC is the Army’s largest annual live experiment. It ensures the Army, as part of the Joint and Combined fight, can rapidly converge effects across all domains to overmatch our adversaries in competition and conflict.
Persistent experimentation (PE): An Ever-Changing Focus for the Future
With portable command posts and trailers available for larger experiments, and the expeditionary personnel to lead transformation experiments anywhere in the world on short notice, JMC is uniquely provisioned and staffed to lead the way on AFC’s persistent experimentation efforts.
JMC’s vision to enable persistent experimentation is to seek out existing operational in-theater, Joint, Multinational and multi-echelon exercises where linked, continuous, live experiments can be conducted in conjunction with unit training objectives. By using existing exercises in which leaders seek to solve current and future problems, AFC can shape the formations and technologies necessary to combat an ever-changing threat environment.
JMC core competencies include live experimentation, coupled with virtual and constructive simulation assessments and rapid results reporting. JMC’s expertise in integrating, capabilities and formations enable persistent experimentation through linked, continuous live experiments. JMC’s core competencies are live experimentation; to validate the Army of 2030 and inform Army of 2040.
At JMC headquarters, there are numerous facilities to conduct persistent experimentation. JMC headquarters facilities include an Exercise Control Center (ECC), a Multi-Domain Operations Simulation Center (MDOSC), a Network Operations Support Center (NOSC), and multi-echelon command post pad areas with connectivity and assessment capabilities.
How Does PE Work?
Scarlet Dragon Oasis:
A team of JMC experimentation subject matter experts kickstarted the persistent experimentation effort in February 2023 during Scarlet Dragon Oasis, an artificial intelligence and data-centric Joint exercise led by the XVIII Airborne Corps out of Fort Liberty, formerly known as Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The team of JMC officers observed the set-up and execution of the exercise, gaining insights into how Army experimentation is playing out in the operational force.
One of the more immediate insights gleaned by Maj. Adam Schinder, JMC’s cyberspace and electronic warfare integrator, from observing Scarlet Dragon was seeing how persistent experimentation can work. This exercise, from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, 2023, was the sixth iteration of Scarlet Dragon, with the seventh iteration coming within the upcoming months.
“This gave us an excellent vision into what persistent experimentation could look like,” Schinder said. “I think that was valuable… What we saw from the persistent experimentation angle is that having multiple events gives (the XVIII Airborne Corps) the opportunity to, with less stress, take on the small problems and solve them in an iterative fashion. They can also just try something out, which helps on what’s functional and what can work.”
Balikatan – Joint Warfighting Assessment 23
This Joint Warfighting Assessment 23 (JWA23) team at JMC observed the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force’s (MDTF) concepts and capabilities during Balikatan 23, a Marine-led exercise. The JWA23 team was led by JMC and included experts from various capability development integration divisions. The assessment built on the lessons learned during past JWAs and PC capstone events.
Brig. Gen. Bernard Harrington, commander of the 1st MDTF, underscored the significance of initiatives like JWA23 in shaping the future of the Army in the Indo-Pacific.
“JWA23 is an opportunity to get multiple teams together to figure out how we get the Joint force into position in the Indo-Pacific,” Harrington said. “Over the last two years, [U.S. Army Pacific] has steadily increased investments in the first island chain, placing combat-credible forces on key terrain to build interoperability with key partners. JWA23 is one feedback mechanism to evaluate how we prevent conflict and prevail in competition.”
The MDTF is the newest formation in the Army and is at the forefront of Army experimentation. Many of the new capabilities the Army is looking to in the future would come from the MDTF. During JWA 23, the JMC-led team assessed the 1st MDTF’s ability to integrate with joint partners and allies, joint sensor-to-shooter efforts, joint networking, and joint force protection.
Northern Edge 23 – Project Convergence-Pacific-Tac 1
After leading AFC’s persistent experimentation campaign with the 1st MDTF in the Philippines during Balikatan/JWA23, observers from the AME, led by JMC, moved to Alaska to continue experimentation with the 3rd MDTF during the Project Convergence-Pacific/Northern Edge (PC-P) exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
“These observations, at exercises that include the Joint services and multinational partners, are allowing us to see the latest in Joint warfighting,” said then-JMC Commander Col. Joseph Escandon. “What we see during these persistent experimentation events will allow us to push the envelope as we plan our own experimentation, including Project Convergence capstone experiments.”
Northern Edge was a Pacific Air Forces-led exercise, with the 3rd MDTF’s participation helping the services experiment with Joint sensor-to-shooter capabilities and Joint fires.
Lt. Col. Josh Slattery, Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) concepts chief for the Mission Command Capability Development Integration Directorate, was one of the observers at Northern Edge and was especially interested in what tools the 3rd MDTF preferred to use to conduct joint fires. The MDTFs are the signature unit as leaders look to deliver the multi-domain operations-capable Army of 2030.
“The multi-domain task forces have the ability to provide effects across multiple domains, and they’re focused on multiple theaters globally,” Slattery said. “The MDTF may be the model for the future of other formations for the Army. The MDTF is a win for the Army. The future of combat operations is evolving, and our requirements are changing. So, as we contribute to the joint force, the Army is rolling out multi-domain capabilities.”
Northern Edge 23 – Project Convergence-Pacific-Tac 2
AFC’s campaign of persistent experimentation matured and paid dividends in July as observers from the AME, led by JMC, returned to the Philippines and Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) to experiment with the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force during the Project Convergence-Pacific/Northern Edge (PC-P) exercise.
JMC’s participation in the Northern Edge exercise helped prove the concept of inserting Army transformation experimentation into Indo-Pacific Command campaigns in the Pacific, said Maj. John Donaho of JMC’s Operations Group B.
“It’s not separate, like oil and water, where we need to do current readiness now and deal with future readiness somewhere else,” Donaho said. “Doing in-theater experimentation like PC-P enables us to both generate current readiness and future readiness at the same time.”
Project Convergence – Europe (Arcane Thunder 23)
In late August 2023, the JMC modernization team traveled to Europe to continue AFC’s campaign of persistent experimentation with the 2nd Multi-Domain Task Force. PC – Europe took place during the Arcane Thunder exercise in Germany, Poland, and other locations in Europe.
Project Convergence Capstone 4
These persistent experimentation events, and others, feed into JMC’s biggest mission: planning, executing, and assessing a PC capstone event, AFC’s largest live, large-scale Joint/Multinational experiment, in the dirt and essential means of achieving Army and Joint transformation goals.
During PC 22, the JMC team, in conjunction with personnel from across AFC and our joint service partners, assessed how the Army integrates with the Joint Force to create Joint situational awareness, exploits the use of artificial intelligence, employs air and ground robotics, displays the power of the emerging Combined JADC2 network, and enhances the Joint Force’s ability to converge lethal and non-lethal fires across all domains. The AME and JMC garnered numerous insights to underpin future Army and Joint acquisition and force structure decisions.
“This is a key piece of our Army’s greatest transformation in more than 40 years,” said the 37th Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville during PC22. “We are at an inflection point to prepare for large-scale combat operations, and to do that, we must take advantage of all our systems, looking at speed, range, and convergence — and convergence is the secret sauce. Because if you think about it, you can have weapon systems that are extremely fast and go far, but if it takes them too long to get to them to the fight, you lose your window of opportunity.”
During PC Capstone 4, planned for early 2024, the AME will come together with Joint and multinational partners to validate the assessments made during the past year of persistent experimentation, as well as take a leap forward on Army, Joint and multinational transformation. JMC is a unique organization that integrates many organizations to work toward a future Army and joint force that can “converge” many activities into a future force that will ensure the U.S. and the Joint Force will win our nations fight in 2040. Army JMC Soldiers will be there, in the dirt, making sure the Army is ready for the future fight.