Army Modernization in an Era of Persistent Conflict

By Speakes, Stephen M.; Martin, Gregory M. | Army, January 2008 | Go to article overview
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Army Modernization in an Era of Persistent Conflict

Speakes, Stephen M., Martin, Gregory M., Army

The Army intends to remain the preeminent landpower on earth, dominant across the full spectrum of operations, now and in the future, to meet our enduring contract with the American people to defend our freedom. The Army's modernization strategy is designed to meet the Army's current and future equipping requirements.

America is locked in a struggle for survival against violent extremists who seek to destroy our way of life. Al Qaeda and similar groups have attacked the United States on our own soil and anounced their intentions of establishing a global caliphate based on Shari'a law. The United States is not their only target; they have perpetrated a number of attacks worldwide in pursuit of these aims. They claim grievances that date back to the Crusades in the Middle Ages and the loss of Andalusia (Spain) in 1492. Our enemies take a long view indeed. This enemy views itself in a protracted life-and-death struggle with the West and our ideas of freedom and democracy. We are, whether we like it or not, involved in a long war. Indeed, we see a strategic environment of persistent conflict, a protracted confrontation among state, nonstate and individual actors who will use violence to achieve political and ideological ends.

The Army Strategy: Continuous Modernization

A strategic environment of persistent conflict requires continuous modernization to stay ahead of our enemies whose asymmetric attacks have demonstrated their great adaptive abilities. Continuous modernization will need the best efforts of industry to innovate and speed product deliveries and, in turn, will require the will of the nation to bear the financial burdens these conditions impose for years to come.

Strategies are composed of ends, ways, means and risks. The "end" of our modernization strategy is to sustain the Army as the dominant landpower in the world, capable of full spectrum operations. There are four points to the Army modernization strategy.

* Rapidly field the best new equipment to the current force. The Army is committed to providing combatant commanders with the capabilities they need to win the nation's wars and to conduct operations across the full spectrum of operations. Current combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan feature adaptive adversaries bent on defeating us. This fact requires us to maintain our technological advantage through continuous innovation and modernization. We have not stood still. Since 9/11, the Army has fielded 94 new systems for soldiers; we plan to field 64 more over the next 10 years.

Timing is everything in war. As the Army entered the global war on terrorism, the existing processes were too slow to effectively respond to wartime needs. The Army has corrected this deficiency by accelerating wartime acquisition and fielding through several initiatives, including the rapid equipping force and the rapid fielding initiative. These efforts procure commercial off-the-shelf equipment for deploying units. Today, we are institutionalizing these initiatives across the generating force.

Other initiatives include delivering Stryker variants to replace aging ambulances, M113 command vehicles, and nuclear, biological and chemical vehicles throughout the force. In addition, the Army now expedites resource decisions through the Army Requirements and Resourcing Board, which allows commanders in the field to pass their latest requirements directly to the Army Staff for rapid decision and action. We will continue to apply the lessons learned in war to accelerate the delivery of equipment to our soldiers.

* Upgrade and modernize existing systems so that all soldiers have the equipment they need. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. recently stated: "We must continuously modernize our forces to put our Cold War formations and systems behind us and to provide our soldiers a decisive advantage over our enemies." Existing systems slated for improvement include the soldier as a system program, the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet, aviation platforms, the Patriot missile system and the existing communications network.

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