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US Army’s “Project Convergence” evaluating technologies, Joint and Multinational interoperability for A2/AD and Multidomain capability

Russia and China have developed sophisticated military capability for A2/AD and Multidomain capability. Anti-Access is defined as any action, activity, or capability, usually long-range, designed to prevent an advancing military force from entering an operational area. Area Denial is defined as action, activity, or capability, usually short-range, designed to limit an adversarial force’s freedom of action within an operational area. In terms of weapon systems, threat A2/AD defenses are envisioned of being composed of layered and integrated long-range precision-strike systems, littoral anti-ship capabilities, air defenses, and long-range artillery and rocket systems.

 

The future operating environment articulated by the NDS, the NDS Commission, and other sources describe how potential adversaries have developed sophisticated anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. These capabilities include electronic warfare, cyber weapons, long-range missiles, and advanced air defenses. U.S. competitors have pursued A2/AD capabilities as a means of countering traditional U.S. military advantages—such as the ability to project power—and improving their ability to win quick, decisive engagements.

 

China’s progress toward military superpower status continues to accelerate. According to the latest one, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) now ranks as the third-largest air force in the world with 2,250 combat aircraft. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is the world’s largest, with 355 ships and submarines.

 

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine arguably offers a wide range of insights into Russia’s capability to conduct its own “multi-domain operations” against not only the United States but also NATO allies and partners.

 

Therefore, there is a need to develop new doctrines, strategies, tactics, capabilities and training for this multidomain environment. In Oct 2021, the  US Army has announced that it will embrace digital transformation, releasing a digital transformation plan that aims to synchronize all of its technology and “better posture itself for multi-domain operations” according to the service’s chief information officer.

 

Project Convergence is what the Army calls a “campaign of learning,” designed to further integrate the Army into the Joint Force. It is how the Army intends to play a role in Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2), the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) plan to connect sensors and weapon systems from all the military services—Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Space Force—as well as Special Operations Forces (SOF), into a single network which, theoretically, could prove faster and more effective in responding to threats from peer competitors.

 

Designed around five core elements—soldiers, weapons systems, command and control, information, and terrain—Army Futures Command (AFC) plans to run Project Convergence on an annual basis. The Army intends to conduct experiments with technology, equipment, and
solicit soldier feedback throughout the year, culminating in an annual exercise or demonstration. In basic terms, the Army reportedly wants to “take the service’s big ideas for future warfare and test them in the real world. The Army wants to figure out what works and what needs fixing—and
figure that out as early as possible, when it’s much cheaper to make changes.”

Project Convergence 2020 (PC20)

PC20 took place at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona between August 11th and September 1st 2020 and involved about 500 personnel. PC20 was intended to provide information to support decisions to:
 Change how the Army fights by shaping how it organizes for combat;
 Highlight opportunities to optimize operational processes;
 Evolve how the Army visualizes, describes, decides, and acts on enemy threats; and
 Build soldier and leader trust in emergent technologies.

PC20 concentrated on what the Army calls the “close fight” by integrating new enabling technologies at the lowest operational level so tactical networks could facilitate faster decisions. At the unit level, PC20 focused on Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), Combat Aviation Brigades (CAB),
and Expeditionary Signal Battalion-Enhanced (ESB-E). At the system level, PC20 involved the Army’s MQ 1C Grey Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Air Launched Effects (ALE)—a multi-purpose helicopter- launched system—and the tactical network—command, control,
communications, intelligence, and computer systems used by the Army in combat.

 

One of PC20’s experiments reportedly included using lowearth orbit satellites and Grey Eagle UAVs to perform sensing for air targets and a ground system to detect a ground target. Data from the two systems was passed back to an organization at Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington, where the target was processed.

The data was then passed back to Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, to a system to engage the target—either a selfpropelled artillery system such as the Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) system currently under development, a Grey Eagle, or another ground platform. This entire sequence was supposedly accomplished within 20 seconds

 

Project Convergence 2021 and 2022 (PC21 and PC22)
Project Convergence 2021(PC21)
While other supporting exercises and experiments were conducted in 2021, PC21’s main series of live-fire events took place October 12–November 10, 2021, at a number of installations located in the United States. PC 21 involved approximately 7,000 personnel, including 900 data collectors, and included experiments involving about 107 different technologies.

Some of the Army’s objectives during PC21 included identifying technologies to enable the Joint Force to penetrate enemy’s anti-access, aerial-denial (A2/AD) capabilities as well as determining which emerging technologies were needed to execute the Joint All-Domain Operations concept. The Army also examined “ways to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning,
autonomy, robotics, and common data standards and architectures to more quickly make decisions across multiple domains of operations.”

PC21 included units such as the Army’s Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF) based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington and elements from the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based 82nd Airborne Division. Reportedly major capabilities from the other services were tested, including
the Marine’s Ground/Air Task-Oriented Radar (GATOR), the Navy’s SM-6 missile, and an Air Force F-35 fighter and B-1 bomber.

The Army examined seven scenarios during PC21:
 First Scenario: Test joint all-domain situational awareness and incorporate space sensors in low earth orbit;
 Second Scenario: Conduct a joint air-and-missile defense engagement in response to an enemy missile attack;
 Third Scenario: Conduct a joint fires operation as the force transitions from crisis to conflict;
 Fourth Scenario: Conduct a semiautonomous resupply mission;
 Fifth Scenario: Conduct an AI and autonomy-enabled reconnaissance mission;
 Sixth Scenario: Conduct an air assault mission employing the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS)—a heads-up display worn by soldiers that provides enhanced situational awareness; and
 Seventh Scenario: Conduct a mounted AI-enabled attack.

Project Convergence 2022 (PC22)

In PC22, the Army plans to include allies and partners, focusing on closes allies and security partners such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The project is to expand to the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) level and bring more technologies and assets to the battlefield. The goal is to exercise from competition through conflict and return to competition levels of conflict.

 

“Project Convergence 2022 is an all-service experiment that includes Special Operations Forces, and our U.K. and Australian partners. Using existing and emerging technologies from space to land and sea, PC22 will experiment with capabilities that protect against air and missile threats as well as those that will allow us to defeat anti-access defenses,” said Lt. Gen. Scott McKean, director of Project Convergence 2022. McKean explained Project Convergence 2022 incorporates service experimentation and learning, like the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System and the Navy’s Project Overmatch, to inform Joint All-Domain Command and Control development. Logistics capabilities will also play a central role in PC22.

 

Project Convergence 2022 will evaluate approximately 300 technologies, including long-range fires, unmanned aerial systems, autonomous fighting vehicles and next-generation sensors, and focus on advancing Joint and Multinational interoperability in future operational environments.

 

The event will also encompass the inaugural PC22 Technology Gateway, an industry engagement opportunity hosted by U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command that will kick off experimentation by assessing novel solutions available from the commercial sector.

 

“Having Tech Gateway as part of the Project Convergence series gives us the opportunity to assess new technologies against operational concepts and see what’s in the realm of the possible; what could be. Such experimentation informs possible future Army requirements, provides valuable feedback and increases the speed of learning as we strive for breakthrough technologies of the future,” said Lt. Gen. Thomas H. Todd III, deputy commanding general for Acquisition & Systems and the chief innovation officer at U.S. Army Futures Command.

 

 

In addition to the CJTF (Corps and Division-level), the Army also plans to include a Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF), a number of Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs), and Allied and Partner Mission Command Elements in PC22.

 

PC22 is planned to incorporate two scenarios reflecting selected priorities of two Combatant Commands—U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM). Objectives for these scenarios include
 establishing an integrated air and missile defense network;
 defeating anti-access and area denial defenses;
 examining methods to achieve positions of relative advantage over potential adversaries;
 assessing existing and emerging systems to defeat adversaries’ abilities to conduct complex, large-scale attacks;
 examining authorities and policies to fight cohesively as a joint (with other services) and combined (with allies and partners) force; and
 examining sustainment through predictive logistics in a widely dispersed and contested area during large-scale combat operations.

 

References and Resources also include:

https://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/22051314/if11654.pdf

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