Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of Training and Doctrine Command, continued the push for smaller, better and simpler equipment, and urged industry to go to a familiar “iPad approach” that would be an expeditionary and scalable plug-and-play architecture, on Wednesday at the AUSA winter symposium in Fort Lauderdale. (File / Army)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The U.S. Army’s chief of doctrine development and future plans outlined the service’s top priorities as it looks to again becoming an “Army of preparation,” as opposed to the forward-deployed war-fighting force that is transitioning home after 12 years of combat.
Gen. Robert Cone, commanding general of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, told an audience at the Association of the United States Army conference here Wednesday that while redeploying from Afghanistan, the Army needs to “readjust our focus back on the future” and begin the hard work of balancing near-term and long-term readiness.
Chief among the service’s priorities, as Cone outlined them, is the ability to defend its nascent WIN-T battlefield communications network against cyber attacks, and to ensure that the network can operate in a degraded mode if some components are knocked out during a fight.
WIN-T has long been touted as the Army’s top acquisition program, and is set to deploy for the first time later this year to Afghanistan with two brigades of the 10th Mountain Division.
Cone also said the Army needs to further develop “more cloud-enabled mission command on-the-move” capabilities, and to refine how it can “analyze and exploit data that can be used by commanders at all levels to enable decision-making at lower and lower levels” of command.
Beyond improving communications and intelligence-sharing technologies, Cone also sees “serious challenges for strategic and operational mobility, since the Army depends on the other services for getting it to the fight.”
The ability — or the inability — of Army forces to quickly deploy to hostile, austere locations has been a major focus of the past two Unified Quest war games, the most recent of which wrapped up on Feb 14. The latest game revolved around a scenario in which the Kim family regime in North Korea has collapsed, and the military has lost control over the country’s nuclear arsenal. American and allied forces are then forced to intervene to secure the nukes and alleviate a massive humanitarian crisis.
Cone also said the use of anti-access, area-denial capabilities by potential adversaries continues to vex the Army, and that he is recommending the service take a harder look at missile defense for small footprint operations.
“We have sidestepped the issue of mobile protected firepower” over the past decade, Cone said. “We have become fixated with survivability of our equipment and our personnel, and it has cost us heavily in terms of our mobility in delivering firepower on the ground.”
To meet these needs and future threats, Cone said, the Army “has got to be expeditionary, and it has got to be scalable.” The problem, however, is that the money to modernize existing programs, or to start new programs, will be in short supply.