[Defense in Brief] Army chief Milley lays out force modernization priorities

U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley has laid out the service’s modernization priorities in a memo to commanders dated 3 October. In it, Milley said that traditional U.S. military dominance on the battlefield is eroding as other great powers modernize their forces and begin challenging the United States in theaters and in ways not seen in decades. While the overarching theme of modernization is to make the force “more lethal,” Milley envisions achieving that additional capability in several ways:

— Turn ideas into actions through continuous experimentation and prototyping;

— Improve the acquisition process;

— Improving training;

— Use off-the-shelf technology whenever and wherever appropriate.

In addition, Milley lists these modernization priorities:

— Restoring Army dominance in Long-Range Precision Fires capability;

— Developing a Next-Generation Combat Vehicle with additional close-combat capabilities that are manned and unmanned with the utmost modern firepower, protection, mobility and power generation capacities to defeat any foe;

— Future of Vertical Lift platforms for attack, lift and recon — manned and unmanned;

— Built an Army Network of connectivity and interoperability — hardware, software and infrastructure — to be able to fight in any environment where the electromagnetic spectrum is denied;

— Better air- and missile-defense capabilities to protect formations while delivering advanced missile and air-delivered fires, including the use of drones;

— Expand individual soldier fundamentals of shoot, move, communicate, protecting and sustaining, in order to improve lethality and survivability through the development of improved body armor, sensors, radios and load-bearing exoskeletons.

“Today, our Army is not institutionally organized to deliver modern, critical capabilities to Soldiers and combat formations quickly,” he wrote, noted that the current system is stuck in the Industrial Age. Milley wants quicker delivery of newer technologies, more lethal capabilities, a more agile acquisition process, and improved force training and development.

“Our Army will implement these modernization priorities to improve our acquisition and modernization processes to ensure that future generations of Soldiers continue to be in the most lethal fighting force in the world, for the next seven decades and beyond,” he wrote.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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