The U.S. Army Speeds Up Modernization to Deal with Great Power Competition

Recently, in the Army Future Command in Eustisburg, Virginia, a special cross-functional team is conducting research on a project called “Tegn Ignite”. The team is a future-oriented “special force” composed of scientists, weapon technology experts, and war strategy and concept makers. The project proposes that tanks that control air-to-ground robots, AI-supported targeting and reconnaissance, millisecond-level attacks, autonomous ammunition, deformed swarms, and fast, real-time, multi-domain networking are all typical scenarios of the 2040 war. Fundamentally speaking, this is not only to explore how new technologies will come, but more importantly, to develop more systems that can change the operational paradigm at an early stage and apply these technologies to new operational concepts.

In fact, the US Army has long been committed to modernization. From May 2017, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a US think tank, published the “Army Modernization Trends” report, to the “Army Modernization Strategy” report delivered to the U.S. Congress in 2018, and then to the Army Modernization Strategy in 2019 to undertake the modernization of the past. The results show that a more complete modernization process has been drawn. The U.S. Army has continuously accelerated its modernization drive to respond to competition among major powers.

Iterative upgrade of combat concept
The U.S. Army has always attached great importance to the research and development of combat concepts, and guided the development of the Army through combat concepts. In recent years, from “multi-domain combat” to “multi-domain combat” to “full-domain combat”, the US military’s combat concept has been iteratively upgraded.

In 2016, the U.S. Army took the lead in proposing the concept of “multi-domain combat”, and then received the active response and enthusiastic participation of various services. The senior U.S. military has regarded “fighting and winning in multi-domain battlefields” as the development focus. “Multi-Domain Combat” is another innovation of the US military in the concept of joint operations after the “Air-Sea Battle (ASB)”, and represents a new vision of the US military for joint operations based on the design of future war scenarios. The concept of “multi-domain combat” explores the establishment of a new army combat model that goes beyond traditional ground combat, and seeks a firm determination to play a key role in future joint operations. Through the high integration of various elements, the global strike capability will be doubled, and the US military’s freedom of maneuverability, firepower suppression, and technological superiority in each combat area are maintained. And through the concept of “multi-domain combat” to create a highly integrated new mode of joint operations, so that new technologies can empower traditional combat forces and maintain their combat advantages and freedom of action.

At the end of 2018, the US Army upgraded the “Multi-Domain Battle” concept to the “Multi-Domain Operations” concept. “Battle” refers to “battle” and “Operation” refers to “operation or battle”. From “multi-domain combat” to “multi-domain combat”, it is not just a word game, but also reflects the advanced development of the US military Military thinking leads to the generation of combat effectiveness and the transformation of combat modes. Defining this concept as “Battle” restricts the mutual cooperation and support between the various services, which can only be achieved through the development of an overall “Operation”. The U.S. military is committed to integrating combat forces through cross-domain integration, turning the concept of “multi-domain operations” into a bridge between tactics and campaigns, integrating campaign and tactical actions and goals, and getting rid of tactical constraints and inspiring The development of American military thinking and the substantial increase in combat effectiveness. At the same time, the concept of “multi-domain operations” is used to accelerate the combination of combat forces on land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace, and to enhance the level of cooperation with joint forces in “multi-domain operations.”

The concept of “multi-domain operations” is supported by the Marine Corps and the Air Force, but the Air Force and the Army have different focuses. They pay more attention to the air battlefield. Therefore, the concept of “multi-domain command and control (MDC2)” is proposed. Integrate with the concept of “combat cloud” developed by it. At this stage, the Navy is advancing the concept of “distributed killing”, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is advancing the concept of “mosaic” operations.

The U.S. Army is gradually advancing the robotic chariot program

Since the concept of “multi-domain operations” has gained consensus at all levels of the U.S. military, the U.S. Department of Defense and the Joint Council have decided to unify the military’s operational concept from the top. On January 29, 2020, John Haydn, vice chairman of the United States Joint Staff, stated that the Joint Staff is developing a new concept of joint operations to define a new way of warfare in the United States. Since then, the concept of “global warfare” has gradually emerged. . The concept of “global combat” is developed on the basis of “multi-domain combat” and “multi-domain combat.” The concept describes the capabilities and attributes required for future global combat, including air, land, sea, space, network, Spectrum and everything needed for future joint operations have become a new concept of high-level, systemic, and integrated US military.

Optimization and adjustment of scale structure
The U.S. Army was first established and has now developed into a ground combat force with complete arms and powerful combat capabilities. In recent years, the U.S. Army has continued to promote the adjustment and reform of the military based on changes in the form of war and combat styles, international security situation, and missions, with distinctive scale and structure characteristics.

One is the modular combat unit, which continuously improves combat flexibility. The Army continues to carry out the reorganization of the brigade combat team, adding a third mobile battalion to the armored brigade and the infantry brigade, making the brigade combat units more flexible; transforming the two infantry brigade combat teams into armored brigade combat teams, and deploying 11 regular troops Armored Brigade Combat Teams, 13 Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, and 7 Stryker Brigade Combat Teams, and 5 Armored Brigade Combat Teams, 19 Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, and 2 Stryker Brigade Combat Teams for the Army Guard.

The second is to adjust the active and reserve forces to achieve the optimal combination. The Army Reserve is the largest number in the U.S. Reserve Force. In the next few years, the Army Reserve will maintain a small increase. According to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies of the United States, by fiscal year 2023, the United States Army National Guard plans to increase by 500 personnel and the Army Reserve plans to increase by 500 personnel, which means that 87% of the increase will come from active duty forces. Although the number of reserve forces will not increase much in the next few years, the Army has taken measures to achieve a deep integration of active and reserve forces and narrow the gap between the two.

The third is to establish an artificial intelligence organization to focus on intelligent construction. The Army attaches great importance to the development of artificial intelligence unmanned systems, etc., to promote combat forces to conduct operations more efficiently in future wars. With the development and application of artificial intelligence technology, the army’s composition will also change accordingly, which can improve the combat capability of small formations with the support of fewer combat personnel and troops. In the future, the US Army plans to deploy a variety of new ground-based unmanned systems.

Network The new network strategy includes a series of smaller projects, many participating contractors, and tighter time. The new strategy adopts a R&D-while-use model, so that new and better technologies can be used to upgrade software modules and hardware quickly. One is the command post computing environment. The command post computing environment is a package of hardware and software designed to enhance command and control and improve the capabilities of the command post. The second is an integrated tactical network. For the first time in 2019, all integrated combat brigades will be upgraded to a complete integrated tactical network. If the evaluation is successful in 2020, then this system will be purchased for 4 brigades in 2021. The third is the enhanced expeditionary signal battalion equipment. Compared with existing telecommunications equipment, this new package of equipment has stronger capabilities and easier deployment. The communications force has submitted an evaluation report and plan recommendations to the Army leaders.

Air Defense and Missile Defense One is the integrated air defense and missile defense combat control system. This is the Army’s primary air defense priority project and aims to link all Army radars, air defense missile companies, and missile defense systems. The second is the initial mobile short-range air defense system. The system is designed to protect fast-moving front-line forces (mobile units) from helicopters, drones and low-flying jet attack aircraft. The current mission consists of high-mobility short-range “Stinger” missiles. Multi-purpose wheeled vehicles.

The U.S. Army is advancing the development of future long-range assault helicopter projects

The U.S. Army actively develops hypersonic weapons

Individual lethality One is the next-generation automatic rifle project (NGSAR). The U.S. Army has tested a new type of high-energy weapon, which uses 6.8mm bullets, and a total of 5 companies have delivered 6 designs. The Army also plans to replace the 5.56 mm M249 squad automatic weapon with a light machine gun. The second is the integrated visual enhancement system. The augmented reality glasses of the system can not only provide super night vision capabilities, but also provide tactical data such as target selection and aiming crosshairs into the user’s field of vision, like a fighter pilot’s head-up display, and artificial intelligence based on the data Assist the infantry to locate the target.

Always maintain technological leadership
In recent years, the US Army has made significant progress in scientific and technological research and development, especially since the establishment of the Future Command, the scientific research results of the eight cross-functional teams under its leadership are more interesting.

Accelerate the development of hypersonic weapon systems. Hypersonic weapons mainly refer to new-concept weapon systems that fly at speeds of more than 5 times the speed of sound and can carry out rapid and precise aerial strikes to any location in the world. The U.S. Army is actively developing hypersonic weapons, similar to the current similar precision-guided weapon systems developed by the Navy and Air Force. The Army has established a hypersonic weapon system project office, working hard to develop the army’s hypersonic weapon strike capability. At present, scientific researchers from various services and arms are working closely together to develop a standard “hypersonic glide body”, laying the foundation for the development and deployment of hypersonic weapons.

Promote the development of command post technology and the building of command capabilities. The 15 new technologies announced by the Army Communications Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center are designed to improve the ability to build the infrastructure of the U.S. Army’s field command post. In the past few years, the “Expeditionary Mission Command Science and Technology Objectives” project carried out by the Communications Center has been continuously improving the ability to quickly open field command posts. Overall, the new technology enables faster opening and withdrawal of command posts, and improves the flexibility, connectivity, and scalability of command posts.

Efforts to develop artificial intelligence technology. US Army leaders believe that the application of artificial intelligence technology in future operations can help personnel effectively process complex and massive information, greatly simplify the information processing process, efficiently assist commanders or staff in decision-making, and can effectively enhance the capabilities of various weapons and equipment. ability. Therefore, the U.S. Army has established a specialized agency to develop artificial intelligence technology. This is not only an important measure of the Army’s modernization, but also the top priority of the Department of Defense. The U.S. Department of Defense even prioritizes artificial intelligence research.

Actively carry out neurostimulation research. The “Brain Cognitive Science Application Center” of the Army Natick Soldier Research and Development Engineering Center has conducted a large number of neurostimulation tests to improve the cognitive ability of soldiers. In the experiment, the soldiers fully demonstrated the improvement of their ability after nerve stimulation, including the enhancement of attention expansion and navigation ability, and the obvious enhancement of motor skills in a series of controlled activities. In addition, the volunteers who participated in the project experiment showed a significant increase in learning ability shortly after entering the training for the first time, which indicates that this technology has great potential in effectively making up for differences in soldiers’ abilities. From this, it is not difficult to see that the neurostimulation project research carried out by the US Army is undoubtedly an effective way to explore the difference in the capabilities of soldiers.

Develop and test binocular night vision telescope. The Army has issued an enhanced binocular night vision telescope (ENVG-B) that can be wirelessly connected to the FWS-I rifle scope for designated units. The new binocular night vision telescope has the functions of low light and thermal image composite night vision, and also has a sense of stereo depth, which can provide soldiers with stereo images. From the perspective of the use effect, the soldier’s weapon use skills have doubled, the day and night target recognition rate has increased by more than 3 times, and the shooting time has been shortened by 30% to 50%. US Army soldiers praised him as a “game changer” in the future battlefield.