HONOLULU — The U.S. Army’s 3rd Multidomain Task Force, headquartered in Hawaii, is getting officers from both Australia and the U.K. this summer and will work on advancing technology that’s. focus of the second pillar of the AUKUS pact, according to U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Charles Flynn.

Australia is sending five officers while the U.K. is sending three to embed in the MDTF.

“This is what I’ll call the sort of initial seed corn of creating that combined capability,” Flynn told Defense News in an interview at the Association of the U.S. Army’s LANPAC conference here.

“I believe these formations and the contributions at least from those two countries are absolutely complementary and will accelerate a lot of activities and a lot of work that we need to do together in AUKUS Pillar 2,” he said.

The AUKUS collaboration, unveiled in 2021, is organized into two pillars of effort. The first focuses on nuclear-powered submarines; the second covers critical technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, hypersonics and autonomy.

The officers from the two countries “are coming from the work that they are doing in their various operational concepts, but they also are bringing skill sets like cyber, space, electronic warfare, information operations, [and] targeting,” Flynn said.

Working on technology related to AUKUS Pillar 2 focus areas is a logical fit for the Multidomain Task Force. The first MDTF stood up in 2018 as an experimental unit to explore Multidomain Operations as the Army drafted its doctrine. The service decided it would make the MDTF an operational unit and has since decided to grow four more in various stages of formation.

There are three MDTFs planned for the Pacific. The 1st MDTF is nearly complete in building out its force structure and the 3rd MDTF, which was established in September 2022, is still growing. The 4th MDTF is not yet established.

Each MDTF uses assets that include electronic warfare capabilities, unmanned aircraft systems, high-altitude balloons and space sensors as part of its Multidomain Effects Battalion.

Additionally, the MDTF will have a unit capable of delivering long-range fires using the new Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, fired from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. Australia and the U.S. are already co-developing that capability.

“AUKUS Pillar 2 is really about accelerating artificial intelligence and machine learning aspects,” Col. Michael Rose, the commander of the 3rd MDTF told Defense News at LANPAC.

Part of the PrSM development effort includes using space and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities as well as AI and machine learning to automate certain aspects of the kill chain, Rose explained.

AI and machine learning will also contribute to decision making and understanding the environment in other areas like using drones and countering them, Rose added.

While developing technology which accomplish efforts within AUKUS Pillar 2 is not stated objective for a multinational, combined MDTF, Rose said, it’s a natural fit to do some of that work.

“We have a continued set of work with the Australians and now, more and more, the United Kingdom partners, to build coordination mechanisms so that we can really accelerate our interoperability and ultimately achieve interchangeability,” Rose said.

“In the event we have to pivot to crisis or conflict, we’ve already got the human connections, we’ve got the procedural connections and we’ve got the technological connections to be able to do that and it offers commanders quite a lot of optionality,” he added.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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