‘Multi-Domain Battle’ Concept Will Shape Army Procurement
Photo: AUSAHUNTSVILLE, Alabama – The pursuit of “multi-domain battle” capabilities will help dictate the Army’s acquisition priorities in the coming years, service leaders said March 13.
The warfighting concept, which the Pentagon unveiled last year, centers on synchronizing land, air, sea, space, cyber and electronic warfare tools across the services to defend against, outmaneuver and outfight advanced adversaries. For example, that could entail using the Army’s weapons to attack enemy ships or aircraft, said Gen. David Perkins, the commanding general of Army Training and Doctrine Command.
The emerging doctrine and the related pursuit of new technology solutions is being driven by concerns about the growing military capabilities of potential foes, as well as the need to be cost-effective, he said at the Association of the United States Army Global Symposium and Exposition in Huntsville, Alabama.
A U.S. ally recently shot down an enemy quadcopter drone with a Patriot missile, he noted.
“On the kinetic exchange ratio, the Patriot won,” he said. “That quadcopter that cost 200 bucks from Amazon.com did not stand a chance against the Patriot. So on the kinetic exchange ratio they won. But … I’m not sure that’s a good economic exchange ratio.”
The Army is looking at cyber and electronic warfare tools as less expensive solutions to the problem, as well as capabilities that the other services are using to address the challenge, Perkins said. TRADOC and technology end-users must work closely with the Army’s acquisition community to set requirements as they shepherd equipment through the procurement process, he added.
“There’s a sense of urgency in our efforts to address the capabilities that our soldiers are going to need to have the advantage in a multi-domain battle,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Steffanie Easter. “It’s a comprehensive effort that is going to take all of us to engage in: the Army and our DoD stakeholders, academia and also our industry partners.”
Capabilities of special interest for offensive and defensive purposes include: cyber and electronic warfare tools; long-range precision fires; robotics and autonomous systems; active protection systems to protect troops and vehicles from enemy armor-penetrating technologies; air and missile defense systems; counter-drone weapons; and precision navigation and timing equipment to operate in GPS-degraded environments.
“The list of initiatives that we are pursuing to equip our service with for the multi-domain battle is long,” Easter said.
But questions remain as to whether the Army will be able to secure enough money to sufficiently acquire these new capabilities.
“Funding is not assured,” Easter said. “We’ve been subjected to sequestration, continuing resolutions which seem to last longer and longer each year, and overall budget shortfalls.”
Army modernization budgets have taken a hit in recent years. Since 2012 the Army’s research, development and acquisition account has declined by roughly 30 percent, she noted. “That’s quite a hill to overcome as we move forward.”
President Donald Trump has promised to boost the size of the Army and increase the defense budget as part of a broader effort to “rebuild” the military. Retired Army Gen. Carter Ham, the president of AUSA, said comments made by Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis along these lines are “cause for optimism” that the Army will receive more money in the coming years.