Arizona—In the 105-degree heat of the southern Arizona desert, the Army has linked together experimental drones, super guns, ground robots and satellites in a massive test of its future warfare plans.
AUSTIN, Texas – Gen. John M. Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, announced the centerpiece of the Army’s campaign of learning that will drive the transformational advancement of the U.S. Army modernization priorities and integration into Combined Joint All Domain Command and Control at the Center for New American Security, Sept. 10.
Dubbed “Project Convergence” this campaign ensures the Army, as part of the joint force, can rapidly and continuously converge effects across all domains – air, land, maritime, space, and cyberspace – to overmatch our adversaries in competition and conflict.
In practice, the Army is continuously testing and demonstrating capabilities in the areas of people, weapons systems, information, command and control, and terrain to assess areas of advancement and identify areas for improvement.
Project Convergence centers on delivering data and cloud technologies to the tactical command and is rooted in an overarching requirement to reduce the time in combat decision-cycles.
“We don’t know what future conflicts our nation will be involved in,” said Murray. “But, we know that if we try to fight the next 20 years the same way we’ve fought the last 20 years, we’re going to be too slow to be competitive – in some ways we already are.”
“Constantly measuring our current capabilities against an unknown-future threat is exactly what AFC was created to do, and Project Convergence is how we’re going to do it.”
As part of the Army Modernization Strategy, the Army has emphasized its focus on becoming Multi-Domain Operations-capable by 2035. One of the tenants of MDO is convergence – or the ability to integrate effects across the five domains to decisively overmatch any adversary in conflict. Assessments of the future operating environment allowed the Army to identify six modernization priorities, and led to the development of AFC’s Cross-Functional Teams: Long-Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicle, Air and Missile Defense, Future Vertical Lift, Army Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality. Additional CFTs lead the Army’s efforts in Synthetic Training Environment and Assured Position, Navigation, and Timing.
“When you look at the individual efforts of the Cross-Functional Teams and the labs and centers, it’s impressive how far we have come in the past two years,” Murray said, “But unless all of those systems can talk and work together, it’s going to limit our ability to effectively integrate into joint and allied systems.”
“We couldn’t afford to wait any longer,” Murray said. “Understanding now where to focus our efforts, we’re bringing all of these capabilities along together the right way.”
The CFTs will integrate emerging artificial intelligence technologies in an operational context to yield measurable and accountable outcomes. These outcomes inform Army force disposition and how we organize for combat; highlight opportunities to optimize operational processes; evolve how we visualize, describe, decide, and direct; and build trust in those emergent technologies.
“The future of conflict is going to happen fast,” said Lt. Gen. Jim Richardson, deputy commanding general of AFC. “We have to be able to make decisions in minutes in places where it used to take days.”
“The more we can automate and learn, the more we can ensure that we’re placing Soldiers in the right place, at the right time, to deter – or when necessary, overmatch – any adversary.”
Throughout the year, these structured experiments and demonstrations will occur as often as every two weeks, culminating an in annual capstone event at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona. That capstone event is currently ongoing and will conclude on Sept. 18, with two distinguished visitor days on Sept. 21 and 23.
“Bringing together functions and capabilities is a critical piece to all of this,” said Richardson. “Normally, we’re dispersed across the United States, so there’s only so much interfacing these systems can do remotely. Even simple things like ensuring communications equipment fits inside of a helicopter or vehicle lets us see where to sustain or increase our focus.”
These distinguished visitor days will help unify Army senior leaders on the goal of Project Convergence, as well as ensure a common understanding for the process Army Futures Command is employing to discover and deliver solutions or the joint force.