AUSA News: Army Seeking ‘Simple Tech’ for Command, Control

By Sean Carberry

Army photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine continues to inform the U.S. Army modernization efforts, and making command and control more mobile and less detectible is a top priority for the service’s new chief of staff.

“On the battlefield today, everything is a sensor,” said Gen. Randy George at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference Oct. 10. “No one can hide, and no formation is safe,” he continued.

While that cuts both ways — “Where we can see, we can hit, and we can see everywhere,” he said — it means logistics tails that the Army has grown accustomed to are vulnerable to strikes, sabotage and cyber attacks.

“Along the same lines, electromagnetic signature management is vital,” he said. “We all leak detectable, digital exhaust — emails, phone calls, even when sending a text. Now warfighters must find ways to blend in with the noise all around.”

George said addressing the current and emerging challenges requires action in four priority areas: “warfighting, delivering ready combat formations, continuous transformation and strengthening our profession.”

The service has to be “ruthless” in prioritizing how it spends its time and money and reduce the complexity of how the service equips, trains, moves and communicates, he said.

“Our number one priority when it comes to transformation is the network,” he said. “Command and control is foundational to how we fight,” and a lot of the systems the Army has today do not support effective command and control.

“Antenna farms and endless server stacks are conspicuous and generate too much electromagnetic signal signature,” he continued. “On today's battlefield a commander should be able to see to a fight with simple tech — a tablet for instance — equipment that is agile, mobile, and updatable. If we slog around the battlefield with massive operation centers, which are difficult to set up — and often contractor supported — we will get pounded. The Russians are learning this lesson several times a day, and we will not learn the hard way.”

George called on industry to provide new solutions. “You all provide our Army strength, power and flexibility. You are the weight behind our punch. So, please help us please help us transform continuously and build agility into our Army.”

The Army is making progress in efforts to reduce its command-and-control footprint and complexity, he noted.

“Instead of a fixed tactical operation center, the 2nd Cav regiment commander commands and controls his formations from five Strykers that are physically dispersed, yet digitally connected across the battlefield,” George said. “That commander understands the challenges of large-scale combat operations and is adapting in real time to be more mobile, low signature and lethal.”

The service has made significant progress in recent years on its six modernization portfolios, he noted. “We've made a lot of good decisions over the last several years. Now, we must look at what's next.”

The Army needs improve its data access and processing, he said. “We have to incorporate emerging enabling technologies like machine learning and autonomy. And we will advance the integration of human and machines in our tactics and our formations.”

George stressed that new technology from industry needs to address challenges while reducing the burden on troops, he added.

“Right now, we've got places where tech is not helping. It's complicated, requires too much train up, requires too much maintenance,” he continued. “This is where we need industry's help to make things simpler and more user friendly for our warfighters. The enemy and the environment make battle hard enough.”

Topics: Army News

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