The U.S. Army's dominance is in danger when it comes to future
warfare, according to senior leaders.
While the biggest
threat faced by Soldiers on the battlefield in recent wars may have
been the improvised explosive device, new emerging threats from
cyberspace, electronic warfare, and unmanned aerial vehicles have
Army leaders eyeing new tactics across multiple domains.
Navy special warfare combatant-craft crewmen from Special Boat Team 12, with the help of aviators from 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, conduct a Maritime External Air Transportation System training evolution in Moses Lake, Wash., May 21, 2014. Army leaders have introduced a multi-domain battle concept, which will allow the Army to stretch its capabilities not only to land but also to air, sea, space and cyberspace domains. (U.S.
Army by Sgt. Christopher Prows)
Since the rout of Iraqi forces in Desert Storm 25 years
ago, potential foes have found ways to counter how the U.S.
military wages war within an air/land concept, said Gen.
David Perkins, commander of the Army Training and Doctrine
"They've gone to school on us ever since
then, while we've been doing all kinds of important work for
the nation and the world," Perkins said during a panel
discussion at the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual
Meeting and Exposition Oct. 4.
In Ukraine, Russia and its proxy forces used
cyberattacks and electronic warfare equipment to jam
communication networks, while using unmanned aerial vehicles
to set up artillery fires, and advanced air defense missiles
to gain air superiority without airplanes.
other side of the globe, the Chinese military is using
disputed islands in the South China Sea to influence
"They are fracturing our way of
war by using other domains," Perkins said. "We can't do it
with two domains. Air and land are not enough."
Army of the future must be prepared for multi-domain battle,
a battle taking place not just in the domains of air and
land, but also in the domains of sea, space, and cyberspace.
Such an army would employ infantrymen with cyberspace
skills, innovative air defense systems to deter enemy
aircraft, and even ground-to-ground missiles to target enemy
"We're going to sink ships, and we're
definitely going to have to dominate the airspace above our
units from hostile air or missile attack," Army Chief of
Staff Gen. Mark Milley said, during another discussion at
the conference. "This is going to require sophisticated air
defense capabilities that are not currently in our unit
The next 25 years on the battlefield,
he predicted, will be nothing like the last 25, or even the
"The culminating challenges we face in the
changing character of war is unlike anything our current
force has ever experienced in intensity and lethality," he
It's still too early to know when the
multi-domain concept will be completed, said Perkins, adding
that the air/land concept took eight years to be implemented
after it first was introduced in 1973. While he doesn't
expect multi-domain to take that long, he does expect that
getting the other services involved will be a long process.
"This is pretty much the beginning of a new way of
thinking," he said, noting that talks with leaders from the
other services have already begun, with more to come. "This
takes a lot of collaborative discussions."
Corps Commandant Gen. Robert Neller is one of the leaders
taking part in these joint talks. He and the Army chief of
staff, he said, are looking to reinvigorate the Army-Marine
Corps Board to discuss ideas and requirements.
been shoulder-and-shoulder on multi-domain battle and land
concepts," Neller said at the panel discussion. "We can't
afford to waste any resources on duplication when it's not
necessary. We see the problem the same way; we have the same
As new ideas driven by the multi-domain
concept are introduced, some Army programs may be altered or
cut to make room. Perkins said they will evaluate Army
programs to see if they match with future plans or if the
funding would be better reinvested in another priority.
"We're looking internally in the Army," he said. "Do we
have the right priorities out there? That is not an easy
process. It takes a lot of thoughtful analysis."
changes could drastically affect funding across the service,
which Perkins said would be an ongoing process over time.
"Once we gain clarity of where we're going, it'll make
it easier for Congress to understand what we want to use the
money for," he said.
Additional funding might come
from a new Defense Department warfighting fund.
"We're confident that the Army can get after it, but we also
know that resources are tight," Deputy Defense Secretary
Robert Work said at the event. "That fund is designed to let
the Army get after it."
The multi-domain battle
concept would fall under Work's Third Offset Strategy, a
Department of Defense-wide plan, the implementation of which
will likely be heavily influenced by human-machine systems.
While autonomous assistance from technology will play a
role on the future battlefield, Soldiers and other military
members will still be making the decisions.
use machines to empower the human, not vice versa," Work
said. "This is not about Skynet and Terminator, this is
about Ironman. This is machines helping the human achieve
With the multi-domain concept rooted in a
force of trained and confident Soldiers, the U.S. Army will
have an advantage over enemies working with similar
technology, according to Perkins.
"It's hard to steal
training and leadership," the general said. "You can't hack
into it, and it won't fit on a thumb drive. So, we think
that is our asymmetric edge."
By U.S. Army Sean Kimmons
Army News Service
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