AUSA NEWS: Army Gearing Up for Massive Exercises to Prepare for Russian, Chinese Threats

By Jon Harper

Photo: Army

Next year the Army will be conducting one of its largest exercises since the end of the Cold War as it prepares for great power competition with Russia and China, the service’s chief of staff said Oct. 15.

The 2018 national defense strategy identified those two nations as the top national security threats facing the United States, and the U.S. military is trying to ready itself for a potential high-end war against advanced adversaries.

“We’re going to exercise our strategic readiness [capabilities] in ways we haven’t exercised in decades,” Gen. James C. McConville said during a keynote speech at the Association of the United States Army’s annual convention in Washington, D.C.

Next year, during the Defender 2020 event in Europe, the Army will mobilize and deploy its forces for the largest exercise of its kind in the past 25 years, he noted.

“We’ll follow that with a similar one in the Pacific,” he added. “The intent is to work the entire strategic readiness enterprise — ports, railheads, airfields, ammunition and pre-positioned stocks, all of it — to ensure our strategic capabilities align with the requirements we anticipate for dynamic force employment in the future.”

The service will also continue aggressively prototyping and developing new technologies in pursuit of its top six modernization priorities, he said, which include: long-range precision fires; next-generation combat vehicles; future vertical lift; the network; air-and-missile defense; and soldier lethality.

Over the next few years, the Army will field the new Mobile Short-Range Air Defense System, Integrated Visual Augmentation System, Next-Generation Squad Weapon, Precision Strike Missile, Extended-Range Cannon and the first hypersonic weapons battery, he noted.

In the mid-2020s, the Army plans to bring online the next-generation tactical unmanned aerial surveillance system and the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle. Shortly after that, it will start fielding a new family of helicopters, he added.

“Now, we find ourselves once again facing threats of great power competition and the specter of large-scale conflict, and we have the opportunity to ensure that our Army remains the most dominant land force in the world for the next four decades,” McConville said. “But we have to adapt. This is not about fighting the last fight better, but it’s about winning the next fight. So when we talk about modernization, it must include building multi-domain doctrine, organizations and training.”

Last year at the AUSA conference, the service formally rolled out its multi-domain operations concept, which it been developing since 2016. It calls for using Army capabilities in partnership with the other services to affect the land, air, sea, space and cyber warfighting domains. But more needs to be done, McConville said during this year’s keynote.

The Army is using wargaming and exercises to refine its understanding of multi-domain operations, and experimenting with organizations and capabilities of a multi-domain task force in support of Indo-Pacific Command and European Command, he noted. Those are the geographic combatant commands that are primarily response for dealing with China and Russia.

“Together, we’ll use what we’ve learned to produce updated doctrine for how we’ll fight,” McConville said.

Meanwhile, on the personnel side, the service wants to improve its talent management processes. It is publishing its first “Army People Strategy,” he said.

The service will implement a system that manages soldiers based on 25 variables instead of two, and better takes into account people’s knowledge, skills, behaviors and preferences, he said.

“I know it’s almost blasphemous to think the Army would actually consider someone’s preferences, but if we know where they want to go and what they want to do, we believe we can get the right person in the right job at the right time, and we will have a better Army and more committed soldiers and families,” McConville said.


Topics: Army News