The Army is making some major changes as it modernizes and prioritizes readiness, shapes the Army of the future, and takes care of Soldiers.
That includes reforming the way the Army conducts business, according to Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville, who spoke via video teleconference to Army Aviation leaders gathered at Fort Rucker for the Aviation Senior Leader Forum Feb. 1.
After 16 years of counterinsurgency and counter terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army is at an “inflection point,” as it prepares for potential large scale combat operation environments, McConville said.
“Our job is to be ready to go to war, and hopefully we are so strong and so capable with so much capacity that no one would miscalculate and believe that we are not ready to fight,” he said. “I know our soldiers can fight and win tonight.”
In the past, land was the only contested domain, but the Multi-Domain Battle concept of the future requires necessary systems to provide overmatch.
The Army is thinking differently about modernization processes, standing up a new future focused command and a Cross Functional Team for each of the Army’s six modernization priorities aimed at achieving greater lethality–long-range precision fires, a next generation combat vehicle, Future Vertical Lift, the Army network, air and missile defense, and increasing lethality, systems and training.
The Army looks to leverage commercial innovations, cutting-edge science and technology, prototyping and warfighter feedback. Unity of command and unity of effort will help ensure accountability, transparency and responsible stewardship of the Nation’s resources.
“Basically we’re cutting a lot of bureaucracy to get things done,” McConville said.
The bottom line for the Army’s modernization strategy is making Soldiers and units more lethal to win the Nation’s wars and come home safely.
For Aviation, that includes Future Vertical Lift.
“We have three great helicopters right now, and we’re continuing to incrementally improve them, but we’ve reached the physics of aerodynamics of how far and how fast we can go with the systems we have in place,” he said.
Industry is currently building helicopter prototypes, and Army is taking a close look at a path to quickly move forward.
“We have industry right now spending money developing a prototype that we can fly before we buy. When you can see it, touch it, make sure it can fly we’re going to be in much better position to work requirements and make sure that the technology level is where we need it to be,” he said.
One of the key parameters for FVL is agility on the objective, he said.
“Our helicopters are there to support troops on the ground,” he said.
McConville also emphasized the importance of warrant officer aviators. The Army is looking at incentive options to attract and retain experienced warrant officers in the Army.
The context surrounding Army modernization is an increase to the Army’s end strength, after drawing down the Army over the past few years.
“That’s probably one of the most painful things I had to do wearing this uniform was tell highly qualified people with multiple combat tours that wanted to continue to serve that they could no longer serve in our army. But that has changed. We are on a positive path right now. We stopped the drawdown,” he said.
However, sequestration still looms, and authorizations are not money in the bank.
“We’re on a positive slope as far as authorizations, but authorizations are just promises. Appropriations are the proof in the execution. Going from continuing resolution to continuing resolution is not what we want to do. It’s been very difficult because we’re growing the army this year, and very concerned about what that means as we go forward,” he said.
McConville commended Aviation leaders for what Army Aviation is accomplishing around the world.
“To a person, all the ground commanders want aviation. There’s not a commander that is not thinking incredibly highly of our aviation units and commanders. That’s a tribute to all of you. You have a tremendous reputation out there,” McConville said.
At the end of the day, Army modernization efforts are all about taking care of Soldiers.
“Where some of the other services may be about equipment, we’re about people,” McConville said. “We want to make sure our soldiers have the best equipment that money can buy.”