The United States Army of 2030 will operate in a highly non-linear and complex operational environment, will likely be dominated by decreasing domestic budgets and reduced force structure; increased velocity and momentum of human interaction and events; potential for adversarial capability overmatch; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; spread of advanced cyberspace and counter-space capabilities among our adversaries; and increased likelihood of operations among populations, in cities, and in complex terrain.
“In a world where the only constant is change, the most reliable indicators point to a future where U.S. and coalition land forces will have to project power across air, land, maritime, space and cyberspace in contested and denied environments against traditional, unconventional and hybrid adversaries,” said Dr. Philip Perconti Acting director, US ARL.
Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley has made readiness the Army’s top priority, followed by the future force and taking care of Soldiers. As the preeminent ground combat force in the world, the Army’s definition of readiness must include meeting today’s urgent operational needs while ensuring decisive overmatch for the force of the future.
According to Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley Jr., deputy chief of staff, G-2, the Army has over the last decade, “been very additive” in terms of providing sensors and communications data for the Soldier. “It’s almost become a burden,” he said. Asked how technology will change the way the Army fights, acting assistant secretary of the Army Katharina G. McFarland called the Soldier “our primary weapon.” The role of technology, she said, would be to unburden the soldier.
The key to modernization for the Soldier, he said, will be to unburden him from some of that flood of data by “placing it on a machine” that can process the data and use it to provide the Soldier with meaningful solutions. That, he said, can be accomplished through machine learning and artificial intelligence systems.
Another area that needs improving, Ashley said, is information sharing with coalition partners. Currently, much of the data that is collected goes to U.S.-only systems. “When you think of all the [data] collection that you bring in when you process, exploit, and disseminate that information, it’s important that you can get it in near-real time to coalition partners and coalition users,” he continued.
The solution to exchanging information with coalition partners, he said, is to “federate” the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data. Federation, he explained, means requiring common data standards and processes to ensure that the many unique systems used by coalition partners can communicate with one another.
Another area the general said could use improvement is the realm of social media. “When you look at all the things that come in through social media, how do you track them?” Ashley said. “How do you look for a trend? How do you receive warnings?” The general cited, as an example, people congregating in Tahrir Square in Cairo during the Arab Spring. At the time, intelligence agencies had no way of seeing or measuring what was going on, he said.
McFarland listed a host of technology-enabled goals that the Army has already set out to accomplish:
— Enable formations to “aggregate and disaggregate quickly.”
— Improve overmatch in electronic warfare.
— Lessen the logistics and maintenance burden.
— Equip Soldiers with complete network and communications gear.
— Ensure that Soldiers have immediate and accurate positioning and navigation data in contested environments.
— Implement strategies to remove the cyber capabilities of adversaries.
Army Research Laboratory (ARL)’s future technical strategy
ARL’s role in the Army S&T ecosystem is to act as the Army’s corporate research laboratory by pursuing discoveries, innovations, and transition of technological developments that are geared toward acting on opportunities in power projection, information, lethality and protection, and Soldier performance.
Major emphasis is placed on getting the right science and then getting the science right by identifying knowledge gaps, prioritizing research to address those gaps and then in a systematic way identifying the resources to ensure the facilities and equipment, and most importantly the expertise are available to perform the research.
The Army Research Laboratory (ARL) has developed a technical strategy, based on eight S&T campaigns; namely, Extramural Basic Research, Computational Sciences, Materials Research, Sciences-for-Maneuver, Information Sciences, Sciences-for-Lethality and Protection, Human Sciences, and Assessment and Analysis. Significant science and technology (S&T) advances and Exploitation of emerging S&T discoveries, innovations, and transition of technologies in these areas shall lead to Power Projection Superiority, Information Supremacy, Lethality and Protection Superiority, and Soldier Performance Augmentation.
Tactical High Performance Computing (HPC) effort will provide 100 Petaflop computing power in the battlespace to enable real-time processing for Soldiers operating at the tactical edge and improve mission effectiveness and mitigate risk in hostile environments. Computing power of this magnitude is also an enabling technology for autonomous systems and real-time data analytics for Soldiers and intelligence analysts.
Real-time predictive large-scale data analytics will provide decisive advantage to commanders across a range of military operations in the homeland and abroad, information supremacy, enhancing autonomy technologies and vastly improved situational awareness to aid warfighters and intelligence analysts.
Materials Research Campaign for discovery and unparalleled innovation of devices and Materials By-Design and On-Demand across all Army domains. Many of the capabilities required by the Army of deep future will significantly depend on substantial improvements over the current state-of-the-art in materials synthesis, fabrication, and processing methodologies.
In particular significant advances that go beyond current state-of-the-art materials are expected to impact the future Army’s capabilities through high performance electronic components for reliable communications and enhanced situational awareness; reduced logistical burdens afforded through point-of-use fuel generation and high efficiency, high power density energy storage devices; light weight, high strength, and chemical resistant appliqués that facilitate operation in a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) environment; and high strength, low erosion alloys to facilitate realization of high penetration munitions.
Alternative Energy focuses on improving and developing new material and devices for novel sources of energy; energy conversion; energy storage; and energy transmission and distribution to enable tactical unit energy independence.
Quantum Sciences will provide game-changing capabilities like quantum teleportation-based information transfer for tamper-evident, secure, long-haul communications and quantum information distribution; enhanced information processing that exponentially exceeds the current classical limits enabling the Army to process information collected from the battlefield in near-real time; assured positioning, navigation, and timing in GPS denied environments; and a network of high-precision globally-synchronized atomic clocks for secure timing capabilities in contested environments.
“Army development of autonomous and semi-autonomous operational capabilities will increase lethality and protection, and augment, enable and, in some cases, replace Soldiers, thus freeing them to maneuver and operate to their advantage.”
“The cyberspace and space domains will take on added importance in the future. Global and regional competitors have invested heavily in all aspects of cyber and space operations”. Cyber Fires will degrade, disrupt, deny, deceive and destroy not only informational, computational and communication resources of the adversary, but also the physical capabilities of its platforms, weapons, robots, munitions, and even of personnel.
Lethality systems available to commanders of the Army of 2030 are precise, long range, and highly mobile.
Protection systems are light weight, low burden, affordable, and resilient towards a broad array of threats.
To discover, innovate, and transition S&T capabilities to (1) understand and improve individual and small unit performance across the full range of military operations; (2) empower leaders with enhanced cognitive capabilities to make sound decisions quickly; and (3) enable expeditionary forces to use knowledge of societal and cultural issues and social cognitive networks to shape the operational environment.
Future land power dominance will rely heavily on significant S&T advances. This is particularly true in support of power projection, protected information, lethality and protection superiority, and Soldier performance augmentation, areas that will serve as the technological cornerstones that ensure the Army’s control of the battlespace.
Exploitation of emerging S&T discoveries, innovations and transition of developments in these critical areas will enable a ready and robust expeditionary Army force that is uniquely positioned to shape events in peace, and prevent or rapidly end conflict. Through preventing conflict, shaping the operational environment and winning the nation’s wars, the future Army – America’s principal land force – will provide future commanders with decisive land power across the range of military operations in the
homeland and abroad.
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