WASHINGTON — Army leaders gathered at the 2023 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. to discuss the service’s strategy as it starts the new fiscal year.
Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth spoke about the Army’s need to innovate and transform its modernization effort, force structure and recruiting.
“This is a crucial moment for the Army to summon our ingenuity,” she said. “To innovate and invest in emerging technologies; to test and develop in uncharted areas like artificial intelligence and contested domains like space and cyber; to reshape and transform the force to be more adaptable and flexible.”
In the past year, the Army has moved several systems into stages of advanced prototyping, production or fielding.
The Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office demonstrated the successful launch of a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile from the prototype Mid-Range Capability Weapon System in June. This followed the successful launch of a Standard Missile 6, or SM-6, from the system earlier in the year, confirming its full operational capability.
This system gives the Army the ability to strike enemy ships from land, a capability Wormuth said is well-suited for the Indo-Pacific.
One of the top modernization efforts for the Army is the development of long-range hypersonic capabilities. In February, the 1st Multi-Domain Task Force deployed the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon during Operation Thunderbolt Strike.
The Army is also working on emerging technologies including short-range air defense capabilities to defeat unmanned aircraft.
“As small unmanned systems increase in number and decrease in cost, we must have this capability to defend our formations against what will soon be the most common threats on the battlefield,” Wormuth explained.
Robotics is another area where the Army continues to research and develop new capabilities.
This year, the Army started fielding the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport to lighten the logistical load for infantry Soldiers. This paved the way for an even larger system the Army is prototyping, the Robotic Combat Vehicle designed to carry weapons, sensors and other robots.
The secretary also announced the Army is beginning a Human-Machine Integrated Formations Initiative to figure out how Soldiers and robots will work together on the battlefield. She said these integrated formations will bring robotic systems into units alongside Soldiers with the goal to have robots make first contact with the enemy.
“I see us embracing change, looking to the future, and becoming the more modern, more lethal, and more adaptive force we need to be,” she said. “As we pursue the most significant modernization effort in generations, we are building an Army that can dominate in large-scale multi-domain operations.”
Building this Army will require transforming the force structure to ensure the service has the capabilities it needs to meet current and future strategic requirements, she added.
As the force structure changes, so will Army recruiting. Last week, Army leadership detailed the change in who they recruit, how they recruit, and who will be recruiting.
The service is shifting its focus from high school seniors to the larger available workforce. It will also switch to permanent specialized recruiters by creating two new military occupational specialties.
“We have to innovate and transform in recruiting, but also in warfighting concepts and modernization, or risk irrelevance,” Wormuth said. “And the United States Army cannot and will not be irrelevant.”