FORT SILL, Okla., May 11, 2017 — Army leaders and stakeholders from sister services and allied nations gathered at the 2017 Fires Conference May 2-4 at Fort Sill to discuss the way ahead for cross domain Fires.
Maj. Gen. Brian McKiernan, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, said increased attendance at the conference reflects the growing demand for field artillery and air defense artillery.
“We have something everybody wants. We probably just don’t have it in the quantities and capacity that we need to contend with what might be in our future,” said McKiernan.
He said the latest Strategic Portfolio Analysis Review, which outlines the Army chief of staff’s top priorities, in readiness (current fight) and the future Army (future fight), list the Fires force in nine out the top 11 priorities.
“We are moving in the right direction relative to the capability that the Fires force has got to provide to our Army and our joint force,” said the FCoE commander. “Those priorities mean growth in short-range air defense artillery, cannon and rocket missile battalions and the headquarters required to provide mission command over that capability.”
The conference brought together those who have experience, such as retired Maj. Gen. Vernon Lewis, the last Fires general officer from the Korean War. It included commanders from FA and ADA who shared their knowledge and current dilemmas; and those who can use cross domain Fires in the future, such as guest speaker Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, U.S. Pacific Command Operations director. Forty industry partners were there as well to showcase possible technological solutions to cross domain Fires’ needs.
McKiernan said the effort to close any current and future gaps in Fires begins with these conversations. They create a shared understanding and then doctrinally the Army can move forward.
“Cross domain Fires really isn’t anything new. What we’re really talking about is expanding our concept of cross domain Fires. In the past, we’ve delivered joint Fires from air platforms, surface-to-surface Fires and surface-to-air Fires in the form of air defense artillery. Going forward we need to expand our understanding of that and our capabilities so we’re also addressing threats in other domains that we haven’t typically addressed,” said McKiernan.
Gen. David Perkins, Training and Doctrine Command commander, said leveraging cyber and electromagnetic domains creates “windows of opportunity” that should give the Army asymmetric advantage over the enemy.
“The conclusion we’ve come to is, two domains is not going to cut it anymore,” said Perkins. “We’re trying to out-dilemma the enemy. If you only provide the enemy one dilemma, eventually they will figure out how to mitigate it.
“If I’m doing something on land, this is only going to work for a little while and they’re going to adapt to it. So before they can adapt to it, if I can do something with cyber, air, space, in any sort of order I want and I keep switching it, that is much more difficult for them to mitigate and parry.”
Perkins said the act of synchronizing the domains is the dilemma and discussions on how to solve that will continue going into the Association of the United States Army Conference in October.
He said although the enemy is out working to fracture unified land operations, the Army has an overmatch in human capital. He believes Soldiers are more trained and disciplined and he said the human dimension is going to be the answer over the enemy’s advances.
“You could steal the technology to use some kind of cyber weapon. You can hack into somebody’s plans for the next tank, but if you have well-developed leaders, well trained, well-disciplined forces that can operate and think multi-domain in a joint coalition force, you can’t hack in to that leadership. It’s something that no matter what the technology, the way of applying it is going to be our asymmetric advantage.”
He said that wherever the United States is fighting, the Army will have a bigger coalition than the enemy.
“Know that we are working hard to continue to preserve the fighting strength of our Army and provide great defense for our nation,” said McKiernan. “We don’t get to the close fight if we don’t address and fix the challenges we have across the Army in terms of the Fires capability.”