Academic journal article Military Review

The Enemy after Next

Academic journal article Military Review

The Enemy after Next

Article excerpt

THE REVOLUTION in military affairs, associated with the dawning information age, proraises to dramatically affect future warfare. The Army's Force XXI project is already addressing this new environment. Meanwhile, the Army is focusing on a more distant horizon-the Army After Next (AAN), which will examine warfare in 2025. Anticipated improvements in battlespace knowledge will help leaders exploit advances in mobility that will greatly enhance speed. These two concepts of knowledge and speed are AAN's watchwords.

Fighting against fully modernized AAN forces will be a daunting task. Even engaging Army XXI units that will populate the 2025 battlefield as legacy forces will be extremely challenging. This article describes the impressions of opponents we might face in 2025. AAN work to date has focused on fighting two types of opponents: Red, a modernized foe with slightly less technological capability than the US Army; and Orange, a transnational business organization conducting legal and illegal activities, currently fronting an insurgency. This article will examine both Red's and Orange's impressions of AAN.

Red (A Division Commander's Perspective)

I first encountered the AAN in Southwest Asia. While furthering my country's plan to extend our influence in the Persian Gulf region, my superiors ordered my division into a tactical assembly area (TAA) to await orders to reinforce front operations. Occupying a static TAA was a mistake. The Blue forces, very similar to US AAN forces, have an incredible degree of battlespace knowledge. This means that anything in the open can be found and potentially destroyed.

This information dominance provided Blue an unprecedented battlespace awareness and resulted in the destruction of my division in slightly over 30 minutes. The quick death of such a large formation was a surprise to me. Consequently, my staff and I immediately began to devise new tactics. Some worked, while others did not. Regardless of the outcome, I learned to vary my tactics constantly in order to complicate Blue's targeting process and to use terrain where possible to conceal our location.

My first attempts to make it more difficult for Blue to target my forces did not provide much benefit. Random changes in direction of mechanized forces, even when they moved up to 100 km per hour in bursts of speed, failed to prevent Blue attacks. Blue's battlespace awareness, coupled with its robust decision-making apparatus, facilitated the rapid adjustment of strikes, whether by aircraft, long-range precision munitions or ambush by highly lethal ground-maneuver systems. My phantom electronic signature devices helped a little, but they ultimately failed once a sensor was in range to count systems.

Blue's ability to shut down my air defense network was especially frustrating. Blue sensors and countermeasures detected and blinded my sensors and weapons so that they became easy targets for destruction. My inability to protect my forces from detection or attack from the air, regardless of the US military service involved, forced me to look elsewhere for a path to survival and mission success

My next encounter with AAN was in a series of European engagements. Covering and concealing my forces quickly became a major concern. Wooded areas helped somewhat. I also told my subordinates to use low-technology counters such as camouflage netting to deflect submunitions just before impact. The idea was to use anything available to block or deflect an incoming munition as well as to hide.

My next step was to occupy urban terrain as a hide area from which to roll out and strike. Buildings afforded me protection in two ways. First, Blue sensors had difficulty looking through walls and roofs. While certain sensors that bore through masonry or fly through windows may exist, it is hard to imagine that enough of them would be available to deal with a regimental-, divisional- or corps-size battle. …

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