The U.S. Army is budgeting billions of dollars for new equipment over the next decade. But how will it be used? Find out from Under Secretary Ryan McCarthy.

WASHINGTON — A complex take on how the Army will operate using next-generation equipment against threats is expected in April, the under secretary of the Army told Defense News in an interview just ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama.

Last spring, the service published a modernization strategy focused on the materiel solutions needed to fight in a complex world, and it stood up a four-star command — Army Futures Command — to spearhead efforts to field modern and highly capable weapon systems, from new vehicles and helicopters to long-range fire technology and missile defense systems.

“We wanted to be as transparent to Congress about the capabilities that we are pursuing, how much we think they would cost and what would [be] the financing plan accordingly,” Ryan McCarthy said in a March 22 interview in his Pentagon office.

But now the Army is preparing to come out with its “2.0” version, he said.

The strategy “is bringing that operating model of how it will change how we fight, together with the materiel; and what you will see is how this will take us down the path and ultimately change the structure of our formations over time,” McCarthy said. “It’s a very complex document.”

Leading the crafting of the modernization strategy are the Futures and Concepts Center director, Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley; Maj. Gen. Charles Flynn, the Army’s G/3/5/7 chief in charge of operations, plans and training; Lt. Gen. James Richardson, the deputy commander of Army Futures Command; Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, the military deputy to the acquisition chief; and Lt. Gen. Michael Lundy, head of the Combined Arms Center, explained McCarthy.

“These five officers are really at the center of all this, bringing all these pieces together,” McCarthy said, “and over time you will see us change that operating model, field those capabilities and then ultimately change the structure.”

Wesley said earlier this month that the Army is preparing to make what it deems as necessary and major organizational changes to its force structure within the next five years. A new organizational structure is necessary, according to Wesley, to better align with the service’s new war fighting doctrine, Multidomain Operations, currently under development.

The Army rolled out the first iteration of its new doctrine more than a year ago, and it debuted a revised version — MDO 1.5 — shortly after AUSA’s annual convention in Washington last fall.

The new doctrine addresses how the service plans to operate against adversaries that have learned to engage in provocative behavior in a gray zone that doesn’t quite classify as conflict, and who have studied U.S. capabilities, developed equipment and produced operating concepts that threaten America’s long-standing capability overmatch.

“The big five weapon systems that are in our formations today,” McCarthy said, “was really the big 64. … The structure of the formation changed because you had to enable them to fight, and that is what is going to happen again, albeit, 45 years later.”

Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.

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