Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The Army's New Modernization Program Could Be The Branch's Biggest Shakeup Since The Vietnam War
The Army has used the Association of the U.S. Army's 2017 annual conference to outline a major new modernization program — one that may change the face of American land forces as we know it.
Acting Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark Milley and Secretary of Defense James Mattis used the AUSA exposition from Oct. 9-11 in Washington, D.C., to lay out a major new push to put the Army on a strong footing to face future adversaries whose technology is eclipsing America’s historical prowess.
Milley confirmed that the modernization shakeup would constitute the “largest reorganization of the institutional Army in 40 years,” when commands like TRADOC and Army Material Command were established after the Vietnam War. “Unless we do this we’ll be losing ground to potential adversaries.”
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley delivers his State of Army address at AUSA's Eisenhower Luncheon , Oct. 10, 2017.Photo via DoD
In his opening speech to the AUSA conference, Mattis outlined some of the threats facing America: terrorism, the destabilizing impact of North Korea in the Pacific and recent Russian aggression in the Ukraine. And while the United States has long enjoyed a significant technological advantage over almost all of the world’s militaries, senior Army officials are now concerned this edge may be dwindling.
McCarthy criticized the Army’s long-standing program of refitting older equipment, saying: "There is a limit to the incremental improvements that can be made before they no longer offer the degree of overmatch the Army requires," suggesting that while they have previously helped maintain America’s strategic and tactical advantage “we're squarely on the curve of diminishing returns.”
To address this, McCarthy announced the Army has formed a “modernization command,” starting with a 120-day task force led by Lt. Gen. Edward Cardon, which will explore the Army’s future needs and set out the new command’s role. McCarthy explained that the command’s role "will extend from idea to delivery" of the kit the Army needs to modernize effectively.
The announcement came following the release of an Oct. 3 letter from Milley to other senior officers last week outlining the organization's aims. Milley explained that reform to the Army’s procurement system is essential to modernization with a focus on making “soldiers and units more lethal.”
To do this, Milley writes that the Army “must turn ideas into actions through continuous experimenting and prototyping, improving acquisition business processes, pursuing appropriate commercial/off-the-shelf options, and improving training.”
At the moment, the Army’s acquisition is stymied by bureaucratic complexities, and Milley hopes that a more centralized procurement model will streamline technology development and acquisition and “overcome the bureaucratic inertia and stove-piping found in the Army's current construct.”
The service-wide modernization will initially focus on several key areas including older command and control communications (that are immune to cyber and electronic warfare), air and missile defense, next-generation vehicles and helicopters, and upgraded individual weapons for soldiers on the ground.
That last item comes in the wake of the collapse of the Army’s Interim Service Combat Rifle program, which sought to equip infantry with a modern 7.62 mm rifle capable of reaching out to longer ranges than the current M4A1 and penetrate increasingly prolific body armor.
Two soldiers work together in the Integration Motor Pool at Fort Bliss, Texas as part of Army Warfighting Assessment 17.1 as part of a broad modernization effortPhoto via DoD
What we don’t yet know is what form the new command will take and what its impact on procurement will be. Will it control all Army Requests For Information, Requests For Proposals and contract awards? If so, how will it overcome potential bias from industry and senior officers? There is a clear desire for soldier-driven procurement but how this will be structured and carried out remains to be seen.
The Army is hoping that the new Modernization Command will stand up in 2018 — and begin what is certain to be the long and complex task of preparing and equipping the U.S. Army for the mid-21st century. Only history will tell whether it's a success or not.
The US military does not need Iraqi permission to provide close air support or evacuate wounded troops in 'emergency circumstances'
The U.S. military does not need Iraqi permission to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for U.S. troops in combat, a top military spokesman in Iraq clarified on Tuesday.
Army Col. James Rawlinson clarified that the Iraqis do not need to approve missions in emergency circumstances after Task & Purpose reported on Monday that the U.S. military needed permission to fly CAS missions for troops in a fight.
Americans' mighty military may have met its match when it comes to erecting barriers to keep out intruders.
An alligator in Florida recently had zero trouble flopping over a chain-link fence to get onto a naval air base. Motorist Christina Stewart pulled over to film it, and local television station WJAX posted it on Facebook.
Wallace Ward graduated from West Point in 1958. More than 60 years later, at age 87, he's still kicking ass and joining new academy plebes for the annual March Back.
Army study recommends more sleep for recruits at basic, which drill sergeants will absolutely not disregard or anything
(Reuters Health) - Soldiers who experience sleep problems during basic combat training may be more likely to struggle with psychological distress, attention difficulties, and anger issues during their entry into the military, a recent study suggests.
"These results show that it would probably be useful to check in with new soldiers over time because sleep problems can be a signal that a soldier is encountering difficulties," said Amanda Adrian, lead author of the study and a research psychologist at the Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Maryland.
"Addressing sleep problems early on should help set soldiers up for success as they transition into their next unit of assignment," she said by email.
Thousands of U.S. service members who've been sent to operate along the Mexico border will receive a military award reserved for troops who "encounter no foreign armed opposition or imminent hostile action."
The Pentagon has authorized troops who have deployed to the border to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) since last April to receive the Armed Forces Service Medal. Details about the decision were included in a Marine Corps administrative message in response to authorization from the Defense Department.
There is no end date for the award since the operation remains ongoing.