Hyten: New Warfighting Concept to Erase Battlefield Lines

By Connie Lee

Army photo

A new warfighting concept due to be delivered by the end of the year will do away with the traditional concept of “battlefield lines,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. 

Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Mark Esper tasked the Pentagon with developing new warfighting ideas for engaging in future conflicts that incorporate all battle domains and address threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy. This will require the services to restructure its forces and change the way they operate.

The development process is still in the experimentation phase, Hyten said Sept. 9 at the Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition, which was held virtually due to COVID-19 safety concerns. However, the upcoming concept is beginning to take shape, he noted.

"We're about there and we're starting to understand what that [concept] really is," he said.

The upcoming document — which is slated to be released in December — will be unique in that it changes the way the military will operate by eliminating lines on the battlefield such as fire support coordination lines, he noted. Instead of designating areas for each of the service’s operations, fires will come in from multiple domains, he said.

“We're going to be able to bring fires from all domains including space and cyber, kinetic and non-kinetic," he said. "We'll be able to bring fires from all domains seamlessly."

The goal is to be able to deter adversaries from attacking U.S. forces, he said.

“The speed in which we do that will overwhelm an adversary and hopefully create the environment where we no longer have to worry about fighting that war because an adversary will look at us and say, ‘I never want to enter into war with the United States,’” he said.

Artificial intelligence will be a key part of the concept, he noted.

“It has to be enabled by artificial intelligence,” he said. “We have to be able to use machine learning to create that environment, and [the] all-domain command-and-control concept has to have all those pieces together."

The department will also need to work closely with its allies, he added.

To better acquire advanced AI technologies, the Defense Department must better coordinate with industry, he said. Many companies already have the computer algorithms it needs, he noted.

There are "industry partners out there that already have functioning algorithms that can take massive amounts of data, apply the algorithms ... and learn from that [and] allow the machine to learn from that,” he said.

The Pentagon will need to adopt new AI technologies in a more modern, quick way, he said.

Additionally, the Pentagon will need to change the way it acquires software, he noted. Rather than employing large development teams of about 500 people, the Defense Department should have smaller, more agile processes that can deliver products quickly.

“We have to figure out how to do that across our enterprise," he said.


Topics: Defense Department, Warfare

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