The Pentagon wants a buttload of guided rockets to slap Russia and China from hundreds of miles away

Military Tech

The Pentagon's proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 contains a reversal of that old chestnut from Top Gun: When it's too far for guns, then switch to missiles.


The Pentagon is looking to procure 10,193 surface-to-surface rockets for the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System, a 26% increase over the 8,101 procured in fiscal year 2019 and 47% increase over the 6,936 requested in fiscal year 2018.

The purchase, primarily focused on bolstering Army arsenals for the stated purpose of "neutraliz[ing] or suppress[ing] enemy field artillery and air defense systems and complements cannon artillery fires," would cost the DoD around $1.4 billion.

This pivot, which follows the Army's stockpiling of artillery shells under last year's budget request, is framed by the Pentagon as a critical part of its continued reorientation towards ground-based precision fires in response to increasing 'Great Power competition' with Russia and China following the relative 'defeat' of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Indeed, the Army's top modernization priority is focused on "improv[ing] the range and lethality of cannon artillery, and increas[ing] missile capabilities to ensure overmatch at each echelon," according to a Pentagon release accompanying the FY2020 budget request.

U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to the 65th Field Artillery Brigade, fire their High Mobility Artillery Rocket System during a joint live-fire exercise with the Kuwait Land Forces, Jan. 8, 2019, near Camp Buehring, Kuwait (U.S. Agent/Sgt. Bill Boecker)

It's worth noting that the GMLRS, normally fired from the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket System, is also employable from the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) that's seen increasing use in unusual configurations by both the Army and Marine Corps amid a push for additional unit-level long-range precision-fires capabilities with an eye towards contested maritime environments.

In October 2017, Marines from the 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division successfully fired rockets from a HIMARS system aboard the USS Anchorage amphibious transport dock operating off the coast of southern California.

The following year, the Corps more than doubled its expenditures on the HIMARS, from $60 million to $134 million while embracing the "HIMARS Rapid Infiltration" shoot-and-scoot method (or HIRAIN) rapidly deploying and repositioning rocket artillery systems with the help of a C-17 Globemaster III, a practice pioneered by the Army in recent years.

"The deep-water ports and high-throughput airfields we once relied upon are also increasingly vulnerable to attacks with long-range fires," as Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller wrote in a 2016 operating concept document, per Military.com. "These challenges will only grow as competitors pursue concepts for holding our forces at bay at greater distances and denying our ability to maneuver in both littoral and landward areas."

Translation: Artillery units can shove a rocket down your throat from miles away, on land or sea — and yes, China, we're talking to you.

SEE ALSO: The Marines' Next Warfighting Experiment: Slapping Targets With Rockets From The Sea

WATCH NEXT: The HIMARS Goes To Sea

In a scathing letter, a top Navy legal official on Sunday expressed "grave ethical concerns" over revelations that government prosecutors used tracking software in emails to defense lawyers in ongoing cases involving two Navy SEALs in San Diego.

The letter, written by David G. Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Navy's Defense Service Offices, requested a response by Tuesday from the Chief of the Navy's regional law offices detailing exactly what type of software was used and what it could do, who authorized it, and what controls were put in place to limit its spread on government networks.

"As our clients learn about these extraordinary events in the media, we are left unarmed with any facts to answer their understandable concerns about our ability to secure the information they must trust us to maintain. This situation has become untenable," Wilson wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Task & Purpose on Monday.

Read More Show Less
Pfc. Kyle Dinsmore gets his turn to use the system during the SBS fielding at Fort Bragg. Photo: Patrick Ferraris/U.S. Army

Those really sweet, hand-held drones that the Army bought in January were finally put to the test as they were fielded to some lucky soldiers for the first time at the beginning of May.

Read More Show Less
Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven. (Flickr/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Sean K. Harp)

For many people, millennials are seen as super-entitled, self-involved, over-sensitive snowflakes who don't have the brains or brawn to, among other noble callings, serve as the next great generation of American warfighters.

Retired Navy Adm. William H. McRaven is here to tell you that you have no idea what you're talking about.

Read More Show Less
Rebekah "Moani" Daniel and her husband Walter Daniel. (Walter Daniel/Luvera Law Firm)

The Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition to hear a wrongful death case involving the controversial Feres Doctrine — a major blow to advocates seeking to undo the 69-year-old legal rule that bars U.S. service members and their families from suing the government for injury or death deemed to have been brought on by military service.

Read More Show Less
Fort Irwin's painted rocks in Nov. 25, 2014 (U.S. Army/ Guy Volb)

Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

FORT IRWIN, California -- Anyone who's been here has seen it: the field of brightly painted boulders surrounding a small mountain of rocks that symbolizes unit pride at the Army's National Training Center.

For nearly four decades, combat units have painted their insignias on boulders near the road into this post. It's known as Painted Rocks.

Read More Show Less