WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 16, 2015) — The U.S. Army needs to turn out innovation and technology faster than its enemies in order to maintain “overmatch” said Training and Doctrine Command‘s deputy commanding general for futures.
“We really have to focus on the right priorities to develop the right capabilities… because we don’t want any fair fights,” said TRADOC’s Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as he discussed the Army Operating Concept Sept. 10. “We know that in combat a fair fight means barely winning… and barely winning is an ugly proposition.
“You shoot anybody with U.S. Army on their chest… smoking boots on the other end is what we want as an effect,” he said at an Institute of Land Warfare breakfast.
In looking at future war, McMaster said the Army would have to innovate and think clearly about who the country would be up against. He noted nation states are potential threats to national interests as are state actors as well as non-state and what he said were “so-called hybrid actors as well.”
“We recognize that all these threats are essentially doing four things overall to contend with what they see as U.S. capabilities,” he said. “There are two ways to fight the U.S. military… asymmetrically and stupid… and you want the enemy to pick stupid; but they’re likely not to pick stupid, so we see our enemies evading; they see our overmatch capabilities; they evade capabilities with traditional counter-measures, dispersion, concealment, all intermingling with civilian populations and deception.”
McMaster added: “They are disrupting what we see as our capabilities, especially our stand-off capabilities where we are able to identify the enemy from stand-off lanes and conduct precision strikes… and we see some of those capabilities in eastern Ukraine today.”
He cited examples such as electronic warfare cyber skills and unmanned aircraft systems tied to area fires and how those sorts of capabilities can challenge what has been a U.S. advantage in precision-strike capabilities. He said the enemy emulates U.S. capabilities which show the ease of technology transfer to adversaries.
“Technology is probably the element of our differential advantage over future enemies… so we have to consider the technologies we need to make us more effective, but we also have to consider enemy countermeasures and technological capabilities they’re developing,” he said.
The differential advantage, he says, comes from combinations of well-trained Soldiers, cohesive teams and adaptive leaders with technology and this is why the Army can’t focus on a couple of discreet technologies and say this is what is going to give us our advantage: “We have to develop a broad range of technological capabilities that can be used in combination to seize, retain and exploit the initiative over determined and capable enemies.”
The importance of the Army Operating Concept is that it’s a starting point, not the answer to all the Army needs to know about future operations, said McMaster, adding that the concept is meant to frame the problem of how to make sure the Army is capable of operating in sufficient scale, with duration and the right capabilities to accomplish future missions.
Photo credit: Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s deputy commanding general for Futures, told AUSA members on Sept. 10, 2015, that ideas and valued outcomes have to be turned out faster than our “determined and adaptive enemies to maintain overmatch.” U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold.