U.S. Training and Doctrine Command hosted representatives from the German Army to share an opportunity to exchange ideas on the new Multi-Domain Battle (MDB) Concept at Ft. Eustis, Virginia on March 30,2017. Pictured are Maj. Gen. Robert Dyess, Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center (center, seated), and Col. Klaus Nebe, Commander of the German Army Main Liaison Staff in the U.S. (center, standing) as they discuss multinational implications associated with MDB. Warfighting function subject matter experts from Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) and the German Army Liaison Staff identified and discussed challenges and opportunities presented by MDB and multinational operations in the future. (Photo by: Command Sgt. Maj. Lutz Koys, German Army)
TYSONS CORNER, Va. (Army News Service) — Developing technology for a new combat vehicle or other gear should not be the only focus as the Army prepares for future warfare, said the head of the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence.
As the center publishes the Army’s maneuver force modernization strategy, Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley said, collaboration efforts regarding the future of warfare must be in high gear.
Many of those efforts won’t necessarily be driven by new technology, but may instead spark changes in doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel and facilities, or DOTMILPF.
“It’s not just about armored platforms,” Wesley said. “It’s about a transcendent strategy that allows us to lift this entire enterprise, which includes industry and also our NATO partners, in order to move into the future rather than to continue to improve on the past.”
The strategy, which had its underlying maneuver concept signed off last month, will provide direction on where work in those areas should go. That could lead to a paradigm shift in what’s being taught at schoolhouses or the restructuring of organizations so the Army can compete against near-peer threats.
“It’s imperative that this entire enterprise collaborates and works together,” he said, speaking Monday at an armored vehicles forum hosted by the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement. “Otherwise, you’ll have nothing but stovepipes going out and exploring their own ideas without a lens or an azimuth.”
This sort of extreme makeover is nothing new for the Army. In 1981, Gen. Donn Starry, in charge of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, rolled out the Army’s “AirLand Battle” concept, which focused on air support for land forces.
Before doing that, Starry analyzed the Yom Kippur War of 1973, which later became known as the “Starry Study.” The armored battlefields seen in that Arab-Israeli war, coupled with how the Soviet Union was updating its armor fleet, gave Starry and others ideas on how to develop AirLand Battle.
“We were outgunned and outtanked,” Wesley said of that time. “Our competitor (the Soviets) was able to generate and produce countless tanks and artillery pieces.”
Rather than try to keep up with the Soviets, Starry suggested taking a step back and changing how Soldiers would fight in modern battlefields, which were expected to be dense with large numbers of advanced weapons systems.
“With so many threats coming from the Soviets, we had to consider a different solution instead of attempting to go mano a mano, gun-to-gun,” Wesley said.
AirLand Battle ended up changing how Soldiers trained and revamped the Army’s structure, recruiting efforts and materiel development.
“What’s amazing about the Starry Study is … that study ultimately resulted in the Army the United States owns today,” Wesley said.
“It wasn’t something that happened overnight, but it was founded in the analysis of the opponent we were looking at,” he added. “So, we have been here before and we know how to do this.”
Today, the U.S. Army is honing in on another fundamental shift. While AirLand Battle primarily focused on two domains, Army planners predict future battlefields will be more complex, with Soldiers juggling capabilities in the land, air, maritime, cyber and space domains, while maneuvering in a contested environment.
The maneuver force modernization strategy, which is being developed simultaneously with TRADOC’s overall multi-domain operating concept, will look at how Soldiers can fight against these threats in the 2020-2040 timeframe.
Many of the strategy’s ideas are coming from lessons learned involving a familiar competitor: Russia.
Last year, TRADOC started the “Russian New Generation Warfare Study,” which is looking at how the Russian military has fought in Ukraine, using capabilities such as electronic warfare, long-range artillery and unmanned aerial systems.
By 2025, according to Wesley, the Russians are on track to exceed many of the U.S. Army’s capabilities, while having parity in a few others. The U.S. military’s air superiority is also losing ground as near-peer adversaries develop new anti-access/aerial denial capabilities.
“Those days are over,” Wesley said of dominating the airspace. “We are strategically out of position in Europe now.”
Russian advances in cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum are also concerning. After the Berlin Wall came down in 1991, the U.S. Army disbanded all of its electronic warfare capability, while the Russians increased theirs, Wesley noted.
To deal with this, the Army needs to figure out how to deploy semi-independent units with young leaders who can make split-second decisions on their own. While at a conference in London earlier this year, Wesley described this as realizing mission command, a concept the Army has adopted but hasn’t really followed through on, he said.
“[NATO] armies, and in particular, ours, are drunk on information and dependent on permission,” he said. “You have to create training environments where a captain, for example, has to choose to do something that he was told not to do, but is consistent with the intent of the expectation of his higher command.”
Quick maneuvering will also be critical in future warfare, he said, with command posts having to be moved every two hours to prevent troops from being killed.
“Ukrainians are telling us now that you have to be more dispersed and you have to keep moving in order to survive,” he said.
This will require a huge shift from today’s operations in Southwest Asia, where Soldiers typically work out of forward operating bases.
“That’s a far cry from the command posts that we have used for the last 15 years in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “We stayed in the same place for a decade.”
In light of what’s happening today, Wesley said he hopes multi-domain battle can be fleshed out quicker than it took the Army to finally execute AirLand Battle in 1991, almost two decades after the Starry Study.
“We won’t have that luxury,” he said, “because what we’re seeing in the Ukraine right now is that the Russians are fighting in all five domains.”
Reducing bureaucracy and having Army organizations working more closely together, with input from industry and academia, will help shape the future force, he said.
Along with acquisition reform, the Army is also propping up a cross-functional integrated concept development teams to speed up the development of new vehicle prototypes.
“We’re going to push the envelope on that,” Wesley said, while adding that industry partners will play a large role. “Without bold initiatives, you’re not going to be able to change.”
This and other ways of cutting through the bureaucratic red tape will help make any changes be made in a timely manner.
“We have a wonderful Army, but it is a big institution and big institutions create bureaucracy and we want to break that,” he said.
“We have to turn in tighter cycles,” he added, “and if we’re going to turn in tighter cycles there has to be maximum collaboration.”
FORT EUSTIS, Va. – (March 22, 2017) – Senior leaders from across the active, Guard and Reserve components joined U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command to discuss the future of the Army during a senior leader summit March 21 and 22 on Fort Eustis, Virginia.
Now in its second year, the goal of the FORSCOM-TRADOC Summit is to generate discussion and collaboration on how the commands can better work together.
“This summit provides us with the ability to shape the Army as it’s changing,” said Gen. David Perkins, TRADOC commanding general. “What we talk about today is how do we get there, and how do we set ourselves up for the future?”
Perkins opened the summit by providing an overview of the command, comparing how TRADOC builds the Army to building a car: First comes the design of the car; then acquiring the materials; next is building the car; and finally, making any needed improvements to the vehicle.
“Once we get the car to a certain point, we hand it to Forces Command, and the final customer is the combatant commander, who will drive the car,” he said, adding that if any improvements need to be made, the car is given back to the manufacturer, or TRADOC.
“We design the Army, we acquire the Army, we build the Army and we continue to improve the Army,” Perkins explained. “FORSCOM makes ready the Army, and [Army Materiel Command] sustains the Army.”
One of the challenges TRADOC faces is the need to increase training capacity as the Army increases. Although auto makers can increase the size of their factories, the Army solution may not be as easy.
“How do we increase the factory if TRADOC is the factory of the Army?” Perkins asked.
In some military occupational specialties, the advanced individual training is currently running 24 hours a day to meet the demand.
“We are running AIT in overdrive,” Perkins said.
Gen. Robert Abrams, FORSCOM commanding general, also acknowledged the high operations tempo of the force, which creates a number of challenges in maintaining readiness.
“We are busier now than we were at the height of the surge – because we’re globally engaged,” Abrams said. “But we can’t do it alone; it requires teamwork across the Army to pull this off.”
One example of this teamwork is through the National Guard.
“Two years ago, there was no inkling of Guard divisions,” Abrams said. “Today, we have two, and we’re training to prepare them for operational deployment.”
But even with the high tempo, Abrams said readiness is improving in personnel, equipment and training, noting the importance of training.
“It’s going to take time to train to standard, but it’s the exact right thing to do,” he said. “We are making a ton of progress.”
Throughout the summit, commanders – which also included all divisions and corps leaders – discussed a number of topics critical to the Army, including readiness, combat training centers, Multi-Domain Battle, sustaining mission command, informing the force of the future, the operational environment and increasing end strength.
At the same time, command sergeants major from across the total Army met separately to work through improvements in four main areas: schools, talent management, fitness and sponsorship.
This summit provides a “great discussion about how we help our Army,” said Command Sgt. Maj. David Davenport, TRADOC’s senior enlisted leader.
Davenport said in order to affect lasting change throughout the Army, the changes they discussed would be assigned to respective senior enlisted leaders.
One of the areas Davenport asked for the group’s help with was in understanding not only the challenges of accessing 6,000 new Soldiers, but also in retaining an additional 9,000 Soldiers.
But even as the Army increases, the TRADOC command sergeant major emphasized that standards are critical and will continue to be enforced.
“Oftentimes, what I get hit with is that we have no standards,” Davenport said. “We have standards to get into the Army, and we have phases within the Army that you must comply with before you move on … standards-based progression, or you go back, or you separate from our Army.”
As a result of these standards, TRADOC provides FORSCOM with Soldiers who have passed the Army standard for physical fitness, can shoot rifles and have demonstrated competencies in in Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills as well as being able to meet the high physical demands required by the career management field.
“There are standards and there are processes in place, and you have to meet the standards to move on,” he said.
Like TRADOC, FORSCOM was also looking for ways to work together to improve the force.
“We’re here to try to make things better,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Schroeder, FORSCOM’s senior enlisted leader, as he stressed the importance of talent management and sponsorship.
“When you bought a new car, did you check the oil before you drove it off the lot?” Schroeder asked. “Sponsorship is like buying a house. When you buy a house, you do a home inspection. We have to look at our sponsoring troopers more like purchasing a house than buying a car.”
Another area for improvement is “buying time” for Solders. Schroeder pointed out another challenge is that Soldiers aren’t getting a lot of “head-on-pillow” time, or time spent at home, because of the amount of time required for deployments and training.
“We’re trying to find some time for them because that does affect retention and families,” he said, which in turn, affects the entire Army.
“We’re pretty busy – I know everybody’s busy, but how busy they are has an effect on all of us, and that includes TRADOC.”
The next summit will be held at FORSCOM headquarters in spring 2018.
In a conference room of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) headquarters at Fort Detrick, Maryland, in January 2017, leaders and staffers listened intently as Gen. David Perkins, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, outlined the future of the Army — the multidomain battlefield.
The multidomain battlefield operational concept is built upon the premise that the joint force will not be able to assume uninterrupted superiority in any domain (land, sea, air, space and cyberspace) during future operations. The Army and Marine Corps are developing concepts and strategies for future ground combat operations in the 2025-2040 timeframe that require highly capable and dispersed units to create and exploit temporary windows of advantage.
“In future widespread combat operations and in dispersed ‘self-sufficient force icons’ characteristic of the type of multiple-domain battle discussed by Gen. Perkins, and considering the limitations of supplies and equipment, complex acute and critical care, and minimal medical personnel, force health protection and health services support to the warfighter will be challenging,” said Gary R. Gilbert, program manager of the USAMRMC Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center’s (TATRC) Medical Intelligent Systems.
The joint force is likely to leverage manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capabilities to penetrate high-risk areas and to provide support in contested environments to increase reach, capacity and protection. In the future, commanders will employ unmanned systems as force multipliers in mobility- or resource-constrained or denied environments. Future multipurpose unmanned system platforms could assist in medical operations in such environments. “The growing planned use of unmanned systems and robotics on the future battlefield affords both great opportunities for medical force multipliers as well as significant operational medicine and medical research challenges,” Gilbert said. Medical support from unmanned systems could provide emergency medical resupply, delivery of blood products, and aid in the delivery of telehealth or teleconsultation to support prolonged field care when evacuation is not possible. Unmanned systems also could offer expedited casualty evacuation when immediate evacuation is not possible with manned assets.
TATRC is working to prepare the Army for this uncertain future. TATRC’s Operational Telemedicine Laboratory, which is headed by Gilbert, is a robust group of research scientists and technologists from the fields of artificial intelligence, engineering, computer science, telecommunications and robotics, as well as experienced research managers and field operators in combat health services support and force health protection.
The laboratory’s goal is to leverage enabling technologies in diverse scientific domains such as artificial intelligence, robotics, mechanical engineering, linguistics, cognitive psychology, computer science, telecommunications, biomonitors, sensors, medical diagnosis and treatment, in order to enable force health protection mission command and virtual health support for the multidomain battle at the point of injury, during pre-hospital evacuation and at medical treatment facilities in remote locations and in hazardous or denied areas.
TATRC UNMANNED SYSTEMS TESTS
Future operations in megacities and dense urban areas provide an example of an environment that presents significant challenges to freedom of movement and protection. Adversaries in megacities will be able blend in with a dense population of noncombatants and will exploit vertical, surface-level and subterranean spaces to conceal threats. Securing and sustaining safe routes for troop transport, medical evacuation and logistics support will be extremely difficult because of the highly complex threat environment. The future operational environment, which could be anything from a megacity to an austere environment, is likely to cause severe restrictions on the mobility of vehicles used for medical missions, including both air and ground platforms used for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) and medical logistics missions resulting from area denial challenges. CASEVAC differs from MEDEVAC in that neither the CASEVAC vehicle nor its operators are necessarily dedicated medical assets. In situations where medical resources are already spread thin, the mobility of medical resources becomes of paramount importance.
“Unmanned and autonomous platforms have the potential to completely rewrite the medical doctrine for how we conduct emergency resupply of unmanned and autonomous platforms, including whole blood products delivered directly to the point of need, as well as monitored CASEVAC missions when dedicated medical evacuation assets are unavailable or are otherwise denied entry due to weather, terrain or enemy activity,” said Col. Daniel R. Kral, TATRC commander.
To develop medical platforms for the warfighter, TATRC leverages and exploits emerging robotic and unmanned systems from other government laboratories, academic and industry partners. Employing existing systems enables TATRC to save money and resources while developing solutions for service members more quickly.
INTEGRATION OF TELEMEDICINE AND UNMANNED SYSTEMS
The Army and the other services are currently developing unmanned aerial system (UAS) capabilities for logistics operations. These capabilities probably will be extended to CASEVAC missions in future operational environments where conventional medical assets are denied access or are otherwise unavailable. In order to realize the potential benefits of an unmanned CASEVAC and medical resupply mission capability, a human-computer interface (HCI) and command-and-control (C2) infrastructure needed to be developed for the combat medic to effectively interface with unmanned vehicle platforms. TATRC has used two Small Business and Innovative Research (SBIR) contracts to develop two prototype HCI and C2 applications to enable combat medics to use existing Nett Warrior-type end user devices to interact with emerging UAS logistics platforms assigned to medical resupply and CASEVAC missions.
The overall goal of this project was to develop an application on a handheld device that would provide the capability to a medic, with little or no training in a vertical takeoff and landing operation, to interact with UAS to complete unmanned CASEVAC and resupply missions. The application provides the medic in the field situational awareness of the aircraft’s mission status and the ability for the medic to provide high-level commands to the UAS, such as permission to land after arriving at the specified landing zone and permission to take off after the supplies have been unloaded or the casualty has been secured. Because of the high mental demands placed on the medic in the field, the human-computer interface, which is how the user uses the system, needs to be both intuitive and efficient, and require only supervisory-level control from the field medic.
TATRC and Neya Systems conducted a successful field demonstration in August 2016 of a casualty evacuation mission using Lockheed Martin’s K-MAX UAS employing the Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) Evacuation and Resupply Tactical Interface, or VERTI. During the demonstration, the VERTI application was used to plan and execute a CASEVAC mission using an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) and the KMAX UAS platform. The UGV was utilized to assist in casualty extraction to the UAS evacuation point, where the simulated casualty was secured on the KMAX UAS and evacuated to a medical treatment facility. During casualty transport on both the UGV and UAS, the VERTI application enabled tactical information flow from an operational telemedicine patient monitor to a medical care provider at the receiving medical treatment facility. Telemedicine data was integrated with the existing tactical radio network used for command and control of the unmanned systems through the VERTI application. This capability allows seamless medical data exchange for medical operations using unmanned systems from the point of injury through arrival at the medical training facility, including transmission of an electronic Tactical Combat Casualty Care Card DD Form 1380 as well as live streaming of vital signs while en route.
Another SBIR program that Gilbert and his team are sponsoring is a robotic technology to assist combat medics in the field when using emerging UGV platforms for casualty transport. Future UGV platforms, like the Army Squad Multi Equipment Transport (SMET) UGV, are designed to support multiple mission payloads and to fill a secondary role for providing CASEVAC. The goal of the SMET program is to develop a UGV that can follow an infantry squad to help carry its equipment and supplies during dismounted operations, enabling the squad to sustain itself over longer intervals of both time and distance.
An additional mission of SMET is to transport a casualty from at or near the point of injury back to a safe location for further assessment and treatment. TATRC initiated two SBIR projects aimed at demonstrating an innovative and novel medical module payload for future military UGVs that would provide CASEVAC capability for the SMET and enable patients to be loaded and secured for movement by just one first-responder Soldier instead of the normal two. This would help save lives while minimizing diversion of warfighters from their primary duties.
The SMET UGV CASEVAC module prototyping effort is in Phase II of development. Two different companies are prototyping SMET CASEVAC systems, and while the basic SMET vehicle is intended to be the same, these companies are each following different approaches to prototyping the CASEVAC module and loading patients onto the vehicle.
The TATRC team is developing a UAS research platform that is much smaller than traditionally piloted vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. It has the potential to provide some unique capability for medical logistics compared with larger aircraft. Because of the increased mobility of the smaller aircraft, for example, it requires a much smaller landing zone footprint, which increases the number of available landing zones in difficult terrain.
TATRC is currently testing this UAS research platform to address operational gaps in future medical mission areas and to mature the capability of using UAS for emergency medical resupply and CASEVAC. This UAS is intended to be used as a platform to aid in the development and test of innovative methods of providing en route care and limiting patient exposure to harmful environmental conditions during unmanned system CASEVAC. This research project aims to develop technologies and procedures to ensure that unmanned systems can be safely and effectively employed to provide medical logistics support or expedited CASEVAC in future operational environments in which manned assets are not available or are denied access.
“We are partnering with the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory and Dragonfly Pictures Inc. to test this system,” said Gilbert. (Dragonfly is a U.S. industry leader in small rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicles). “With funding from the Defense Health Agency Joint Program Committee for Combat Casualty Care, we are currently initiating a research project to provide a cost-effective UAS research platform for the operational testing and evaluation of emerging en route care and medical resupply technologies.”
The medical application of unmanned systems and robotics in future environments has the potential to evolve health support throughout the range of military operations, and this includes peacetime humanitarian support missions.
In the not too distant future, according to Gilbert, unmanned aerial systems are likely to be used heavily in combat operations in dense urban environments because of the increased freedom of movement that they afford to a wide range of mission types. These unmanned systems will be multipurpose in nature. They could be called upon in support of critical medical missions if certain medical-specific considerations are addressed as these future unmanned systems platforms are being developed. Support from unmanned systems could become increasingly important in other situations in which mobility is restricted, such as during a natural disaster or other mass casualty event.
“We have heard everything that Perkins said, and we are already conducting research in how to use these unmanned systems to support medical missions on the multidomain battlefield,” Gilbert said. “While the formulation of the doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures that would provide these types of capabilities to medics to use in combat are still in their infancy, our research is focused directly on identifying and providing the enabling technologies that will be needed, and that is the primary mission of TATRC.”
This article is scheduled to be published in the April — June issue of Army AL&T Magazine.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The world may seem to be getting smaller, but the distances the U.S. Army has to travel to conduct its missions have not, said Maj. Gen. Duane Gamble, commanding general of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command in Kaiserslautern, Germany.
“Our biggest challenge as we move forward is time-distance. For example, Germersheim [Germany] to Estonia is the same distance as St. Louis to Key West,” Gamble said as panel chair of “Sustaining a Multi Domain Battle,” during the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium, March 14.
The 21st TSC, U.S. Army Europe’s lead organization for logistics support, transportation and combat sustainment, has the ability due to its location and specialized brigades throughout southern Germany to deploy its assets in an expeditious manner to Eastern Europe and across the globe.
While posturing from Europe may be new to Soldiers who enlisted or commissioned after the Cold War, it has some sense of déjà vu for Maj. Gen. Les Carroll, commanding general of the 377th TSC, an Army Reserve command headquartered in New Orleans that has components across the United States.
“We’re kind of the last generation that trained this way for a fight in Eastern Europe. Our commanders don’t understand the fast fight at the Fulda Gap, like we did growing up. That’s a challenge we’re going after, but it’s going to be a struggle for years to come, I’m afraid,” Carroll said.
The shift to Western Europe is something German air force Brig. Gen. Michael Vetter, commanding general of the Bundeswehr (German military) Logistics Center in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, said their armed forces has prepared for since the Berlin Wall was taken down in 1989.
“Germany will be the main transit nation in Europe, and the special emphasis needs to be on establishing personal relations with each other. We have to act like a coalition to be successful and conduct a hybrid environment to combat our adversaries. The real challenge is that we’re working under peacetime operations,” Vetter said.
After more than 15 years of war, the Army is refocusing its efforts back to the warfighter and their key Soldiering tasks, and relying less on contractors. Conducting operations under peacetime, and therefore less funding and contracting support, means Soldiers will need to return to their Soldiering skills.
“We have to teach our Soldiers how to be on the battlefield, not on the [Forward Operating Base], and how to survive on the battlefield. That’s the new environment we’re trying to teach, but there’s a gap in knowledge,” Carroll said.
This lack of knowledge comes as a byproduct of more than a decade of Soldiers not handling every aspect of day-to-day operations in a deployed environment, said Maj. Gen. Flem “Donnie” Walker, deputy chief of staff, G-4, U.S. Army Forces Command.
“We’ve not really done that since maybe the very early parts of [Operation Iraqi Freedom] when we were conducting refueling on the move and redistribution. Mastering those fundamentals is going to be more important than ever in an expeditionary environment,” Walker said.
Working in an expeditionary environment is what Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command excels at, said its Commanding General Maj. Gen. Kurt Ryan.
“We are on the march again, and we are relearning this deployment and distribution process in a big way. It’s important we maintain the freedom of movement between, and through, our various Combatant Commands. Projecting and sustaining the joint force is a challenge, and certain abilities have atrophied, but we are getting after the problem set and identifying the threat to the capability enterprise,” Ryan said.
Being honest with assessments, and working to close those gaps, is where Ryan says the focus should be.
“We’ve got to get our total force into the total fight,” he said.
Retired Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dowd, director of logistics, SOS International LLC, was also a panelist.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Army News Service) — The Army is refining how it envisions Soldiers will move around in future combat zones, while an execution plan is now underway to get after the service’s next ground combat vehicle.
The Army is getting ready to release its maneuver force modernization strategy this summer, leaders say, after its underlying maneuver concept was signed off last month.
“If this is to work … industry and the entire enterprise need to understand the concept, because the concept is the lens in which we build the future force. It gives us an azimuth to where we’re going,” said Maj. Gen. Eric Wesley, commander of the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, which is tasked with crafting the future requirements of maneuver forces.
The maneuver concept, which was developed simultaneously with the Army Training and Doctrine Command’s overall multi-domain operating concept, describes how Soldiers will fight against threats in the 2020-2040 timeframe.
The main theme is that Soldiers would be called upon to juggle capabilities in the land, air, maritime, cyber and space domains while maneuvering in a contested environment.
The concept also draws ideas from TRADOC’s Russian New Generation Warfare Study, which looked at how the Russian military has fought in Ukraine using capabilities such as electronic warfare, long-range artillery and unmanned aerial systems.
A more complex battlefield being predicted by planners would also require new combat vehicles, which had its own strategy released in 2015 and is now being carried out.
“What we’re building now is the execution plan associated with that,” Wesley said at the Association of the United States Army’s global force symposium Wednesday. “In other words: decision points, decision space, [and issuing] criteria, so we can pull the levers to get money into the right categories to actually do something.”
Army leaders are targeting two sets of plans for vehicles. There’s the ground mobility vehicle, the light reconnaissance vehicle and a mobile protected firepower vehicle to develop light infantry vehicles with more mobility and firepower.
Then there’s the next generation combat vehicle being considered for the long term, with a cross-functional integrated concept development team planning to study it this year, according to Army officials.
With no ground combat vehicle currently in development, the M1 Abrams tank and Bradley fighting vehicle are likely to be the Army’s workhorses for decades to come.
“M1 and Bradley take us out to 2050,” Wesley said, “which is not sustainable if you want a weapons system that’s going to be dominant.”
One requirement for future combat vehicles, according to the maneuver concept, is to reduce the logistics demand associated with those vehicles, since units may have to execute missions semi-independently and in contested environments for up to a week.
An example of reducing that logistics load might be to ensure the vehicle can go longer between refueling. To do this, future vehicles would weigh up to 50 percent less than current vehicles by having them built with lighter materials, new joining techniques and innovative protection systems that could reduce the weight of today’s armor.
The issue of demand reduction should be looked at more holistically since there are several areas where that can be accomplished, according to Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, head of the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command.
Autonomous systems could be one way to lighten platforms and the loads of individual Soldiers. Better energy efficiency that allows vehicles to operate at a longer time and distance could also help, he said.
“We can’t constrain our thinking,” Wins said. “We have to keep our range of thoughts and ideas a little bit broader.”
Partnerships must also be strengthened to prevent overreach, he said, so those working on how the Army will fight in the future know where technology is at now and where it is heading.
“We have to be willing to collaborate not only with industry and academia but also within the Army,” he said.
(Follow Sean Kimmons on Twitter: @KimmonsARNEWS)