Futures Command (AFC) was established in 2018 as a peer of FORSCOM, TRADOC, and Army Materiel Command (AMC), the other Army commands (ACOMs—providing forces, training and doctrine, and materiel respectively). Previously the United States military focused on fighting insurgents, since 2001. The other Army commands focus on their readiness to "Fight tonight" when called upon by the nation. In contrast, AFC is focused on future readiness for competition with near-peers, who have updated their capabilities.
AFC declared its full operational capability (FOC) in July 2019, after an initial one-year period.
The FY2020 budget allocated $30 billion for the top six modernization priorities over the next five years. The $30 billion came from $8 billion in cost avoidance and $22 billion in terminations.
Over 30 projects are envisioned to become the materiel basis needed for overmatching any potential competitors in the continuum of conflict over the next ten years, in Multi-domain operations (MDO).
In the view of Secretary McCarthy, there will be three elements in Futures Command:
Futures and Concepts: assess gaps (needs versus opportunities, given a threat). Concepts for realizable future systems (with readily harvestable content):for definitions of terms, such as '6.3' will flow into TRADOC doctrine, manuals, and training programs.
Combat Development: stabilized concepts. Balance the current state of technology and the cash-flow requirements of the defense contractors providing the technology, that they become deliverable experiments, demonstrations, and prototypes, in an iterative process of acquisition. (See #Value stream)
Combat Systems: experiments, demonstrations, and prototypes. Transition to the acquisition, production, and sustainment programs of AMC.
Under Secretary McCarthy characterized a Cross-functional team (CFT) as a team of teams, led by a requirements leader, program manager, sustainer, tester.
Each CFT must strike a balance for itself amid constraints: the realms of requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test, resourcing, costing, and sustainment.
A balance is needed in order for a CFT in order to produce a realizable concept before a competitor achieves it.
Cross-functional teams for materiel and capabilities were first structured in a task force, in order to de-layer the Army Commands. Each CFT addresses a capability gap, which the Army must now match for its future:
there can be a Capability development integration directorate (CDID), for each CFT.[Note 1] Initially, the CFTs were placed as needed; eventually they might each co-locate at a Center of Excellence (CoE) listed below. For example, the Aviation CoE at Fort Rucker, in coordination with the Aviation program executive office (PEO), also contains the Vertical Lift CFT and the Aviation capability development integration directorate (CDID).
Modernization reform is the priority for AFC, in order to achieve readiness for the future.
The CFTs will be involved in all three of AFC's elements: Futures and concepts, Combat development, and Combat systems. "We were never above probably a total of eight people" — BG Wally Rugen, Aviation CFT. Four of the eight CFT leads have now shifted from dual-hat jobs to full-time status. Each CFT lead is mentored by a 4-star general.
Although AFC and the CFTs are a top priority of the Department of the Army, as AFC and the CFTs are expected to unify control of the $30 billion-dollar modernization budget, "The new command will not tolerate a zero-defects mentality. 'But if you fail, we'd like you to fail early and fail cheap,' because progress and success often builds on failure." —Ryan McCarthy: Holland notes that prototyping applies to the conceptual realm ('harvestable content') as much as prototyping applies to the hardware realm.
A 2019 GAO report cautions that lessons learned from the CFT pilot are yet to be applied; Holland notes that this organizational critique applies to prototyping hardware, a different realm than concept refinement ("scientific research is a fundamentally different activity than technology development").
Joint collaboration on modernization
The Secretaries of the Army, Air Force, and Navy meet regularly to take advantage of overlap in their programs:
Hypersonics — The US Army (August 2018) has no tested countermeasure for intercepting maneuverable hypersonic weapons platforms, and in this case the problem is being addressed in a joint program of the entire Department of Defense. The Army is participating in a joint program with the Navy and Air Force, to develop a hypersonic glide body. The Long range precision fires (LRPF) CFT is supporting Space and Missile Defense Command's pursuit of hypersonics. Joint programs in hypersonics are informed by Army work; however, at the strategic level, the bulk of the hypersonics work remains at the Joint level. Long range precision fires (LRPF) is an Army priority, and also a DoD joint effort. The Army and Navy's Common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB) had a successful test of a prototype in March 2020. A wind tunnel for testing hypersonic vehicles will be built in Texas (2019). The Army's Land-based Hypersonic Missile "is intended to have a range of 1,400 miles".:p.6 By adding rocket propulsion to a shell or glide body, the joint effort shaved five years off the likely fielding time for hypersonic weapon systems. Countermeasures against hypersonics will require sensor data fusion: both radar and infrared sensor tracking data will be required to capture the signature of a hypersonic vehicle in the atmosphere.
The ability to punch-through any standoff defense of a near-peer competitor is the goal which Futures Command is seeking. For example, the combination of F-35-based targeting coordinates, Long range precision fires, and Low-earth-orbit satellite capability overmatches the competition, according to Lt. Gen. Wesley.
Multi-domain operations (MDO) span multiple domains: cis-lunar space, land, air, maritime, cyber, and populations.:minute 17:45 Echelons above brigade (division, corps, and theater army) engage in a continuum of conflict.
AFC is actively seeking partners outside the gates of a military reservation, including research funding to over 300 colleges and universities. "We will come to you. You don't have to come to us. — General Mike Murray, 24 August 2018":minute 6:07
Multiple incubator tech hubs are available in Austin,
especially Capital Factory, with offices of DIUx and AFWERX (USAF tech hub). Gen. Murray will stand up an Army Applications Lab[Note 2] there to accelerate acquisition and deployment of materiel to the Soldiers, using AI as one acceleration technique; Murray will hire a Chief Technology Officer for AFC. Gen. Murray, in seeking to globalize AFC, has embedded U.S. military allies into some of the Cross-functional teams (CFTs).
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Modernization — The Secretary of the Army has directed the establishment of an Army AI task force (A-AI TF) to support the DoD Joint AI center. The execution order will be drafted and staffed by Futures Command:
Army AI task force (its relationship with the CFTs is cross-cutting, in the same sense as the Assured Position, Navigation, Timing CFT (A-PNT) and the Synthetic Training Environment CFT (STE) are also cross-cutting) will use the resources of the Army to establish scalable machine learning projects at Carnegie Mellon University
the CIO/G-6 will create an Identity, Credential, and Access Management system to efficiently issue and verify credentials to non-person entities (AI agents and machines)
DCS G-2 will coordinate with CG AFC, and director of A-AI TF, to provide intelligence for Long-Range Precision Fires
CG AMC will provide functional expertise and systems for maintenance of materiel with AI
AFC and A-AI TF will establish an AI test bed for experimentation, training, deployment, and testing of machine learning capabilities and workflows. Funding will be assured for the Fiscal Year 2019.
AFC is seeking to design signature systems in a relevant time frame according to priorities[Note 1] of the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA). AFC will partner with other organizations such as Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) as needed.
If a team from industry presents a viable program idea to a CFT, that CFT connects to the Army's requirements developers, Secretary Esper said, and the program prototype is then put on a fast track.
The Secretary of the Army has approved an Intellectual Property Management Policy, to protect both the Army and the entrepreneur or innovator.
For example, the Network cross-functional team (CFT) and the Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications—Tactical (PEO C3T) hosted a forum on 1 August 2018 for vendors to learn what might function as a testable/deployable in the near future. A few of the hundreds of white papers from the vendors, adjudged to be 'very mature ideas', were passed to the Army's acquisition community, while many others were passed to CERDEC for continuation in the Army's effort to modernize the network for combat. Although some test requirements were inappropriately applied, the Command post computing environment (CPCE) has passed a hurdle.
While seeking information, the Army is especially interested in ideas that accelerate an acquisition program, in for example the Future Vertical Lift Requests for Information (RFIs): "provide a detailed description of tailored, alternative or innovative approaches that streamlines the acquisition process to accelerate the program as much as possible". In January 2020 the current Optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMFV) solicitation was cancelled when the OMFV's requirements added up to an unobtainable project; In February 2020 Futures command was now soliciting the industry for do-able ideas for an OMFV.
The 2020 xTechSearch top 10 semifinalists (who will each receive $120,000) are:
Bounce Imaging, for a tactical throwable camera (self orienting, pointable camera)
GeneCapture, for deployable medical tests
Inductive Ventures, for magnetic braking of helicopters
IoT/AI, for hardware IoT AI devices
LynQ Technologies, for a GPS beacon
KeriCure, for wound care
MEI Micro, for Micro Electronic-Mechanical System Inertial Measurement Unit (assured position, navigation, and timing)
DoD (2007) Acquisition process denoting Milestones A, B, C along a timeline. When a milestone has been met, the triangle then points downward, at this time. Otherwise the milestone is planned, but not yet met at this time.
Futures Command partners with the ASA(ALT), who, in the role of the Army Acquisition Executive (AAE), has milestone decision authority (MDA) at multiple points in a Materiel development decision (MDD). (Thus, from the perspective of AFC, which seeks to modernize, consolidate the relevant expertise into the relevant CFT. The CFT balances the constraints needed to realize a prototype, beginning with realizable requirements, science and technology, test, etc. before entering the acquisition process (typically the Army prototypes on its own, and currently initiates acquisition at Milestone B, in order to have the Acquisition Executive, with the concurrence of the Army Chief of Staff, decide on production as a program of record at Milestone C). Next, refine the prototype to address the factors needed to pass the Milestone decisions A, B, and C which require Milestone decision authority (MDA) in an acquisition process. This consolidation of expertise thus reduces the risks in a Materiel development decision (MDD), for the Army to admit a prototype into a program of record.) The existing processes (as of April 2018) for a Materiel development decision (MDD) have been updated to clarify their place in the Life Cycle of a program of record: over 1200 programs/projects were reviewed; by October 2019, over 600 programs of record have been moved from the acquisition (development for modernization) phase to the sustainment phase (for mature projects, to continue their manufacture and fielding to the brigades). An additional life cycle management action is underway, to re-examine which of these projects/programs should be divested. (Surplus materiel might well go to the Security Assistance Command, perhaps to Foreign Military Sales.)
The current acquisition system has pieces all throughout the Army. ... There’s chunks of it in TRADOC and chunks of it in AMC and then other pieces. So really all we’re trying to do is get them all lined up under a single command…..from concept, S&T, RDT&E, through the requirements process, through the beginnings of the acquisition system — Milestone A, B, and C — ….aligned under that same commander. ... We will finally achieve… unity of command — Secretary Esper.
The PEOs work closely with their respective CFTs. The list of CFTs and PEOs below is incomplete.[Note 1]
Operationally, the CFTs offer "de-layering" (fewer degrees of separation between the echelons of the Army — Rugen estimates two degrees of separation), and provide a point of contact (POC) for Army reformers interested in adding value in the midst of constraints to be balanced while modernizing. "... and if we're really good, we'll continue to adapt. Year over year over year." —Secretary Esper:minute 19:00 (See #Value streams.)
Prototyping and experimentation
"Our new approach is really to prototype as much as we can to help us identify requirements, so our reach doesn’t exceed our grasp. ... A good example is Future Vertical Lift: The prototyping has been exceptional." —Secretary of the Army Mark Esper. The development process will be cyclic, consisting of prototype, demonstration/testing, and evaluation, in an iterative process designed to unearth unrealistic requirements early, before prematurely including that requirement in a program of record.
AFC activities include at least one Cross-functional team, its Capability development integration directorate (CDID),:Para. 2b and the associated Battle Lab,:Para. 2b for each Center of Excellence (CoE) respectively. Each CDID and associated Battle Lab work with their CFT to develop operational experiments and prototypes to test.
ASA(ALT), in coordination with AFC, has dotted-line relationships between its PEOs and the CFTs. In particular, the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office of ASA(ALT) has a PEO who is charged with developing experimental prototype 'units of action' for rapid fielding to the Soldiers. The prototypes are currently for Long range hypersonic weapons, High energy laser defense, and Space, as of June 2019.
Tests are run by JMC and WSMR, which hosts ATEC. As ATEC reports directly to the Army Chief of Staff, the test support level from ATEC is to be specified by the CFT, or PEO. Fort Bliss and WSMR together cover 3.06 million acres, large enough to test every non-nuclear weapon system in the Army inventory.:minute 1:26:00JMC runs live developmental experiments to test and assess MDO concepts or capabilities that support the Army's six modernization priorities which are then analyzed by The Research and Analysis Center, denoted TRAC based out of Fort Leavenworth, or AMSAA, denoted the Data Analysis Center at APG. CCDC (formerly RDECOM, at APG) includes the several Army research laboratory locations (ARLs), as well as research, development and engineering centers (RDECs) listed:
In internal partnerships, CCDC (formerly RDECOM) has taken Long range precision fires (LRPF) as its focus in aligning its organizations (the six research, development and engineering centers (RDECs), and the Army Research Laboratory (ARL)); as of September 2018, RDECOM's 'concept of operation' is first to support the LRPF CFT, with ARDEC. AMRDEC is looking to improve the energetics and efficiency of projectiles. TARDEC Ground Vehicle Center is working on high-voltage components for Extended range cannon artillery (ERCA) that save on size and weight. Two dedicated RDECOM people support the LRPF CFT, with reachback support from two dozen more at RDECOM. In January 2019 RDECOM was reflagged as CCDC; General Mike Murray noted that CCDC will have to support more Soldier feedback, and that prototyping and testing will have to begin before a project ever becomes a program of record.
Although the Army Research Laboratory has not changed its name, Secretary Esper notes that the CCDC objectives supersede the activities of the Laboratory; the Laboratory remains in its support role for the top-six priorities for modernizing combat capabilities.[Note 1]
Acquisition specialists are being encouraged to accept lateral transfers to the several research, development and engineering centers (RDECs), where their skills are needed: Ground vehicle systems center (formerly TARDEC, at Detroit Arsenal), Aviation and missile center (formerly AMRDEC, at Redstone Arsenal), C5ISR center (formerly CERDEC, at Aberdeen Proving Ground), Soldier center (formerly NSRDEC, Natick, MA), and Armaments center (formerly ARDEC, at Picatinny Arsenal) listed below.
AFC branch locations
The following activities for Futures Command are at 23 locations. (A 'CoE', or TRADOC Center of Excellence, can be co-located near a CFT, along with the associated CDID —Capability Development Integration Directorate— and Battle Lab)
FT LVN Operations research: Mission Command Battle Lab, Capability development integration directorate (CDID), The Research Analysis Center (TRAC), formerly TRADOC Analysis Center,Fort Leavenworth KS
Example of the use of simulations —"a simulation places leadership teams in a situation akin to a Combat Training Center rotation, an intellectually and emotionally challenging environment that forgives the mistakes of the participants" "It is important for Soldiers to have an open and clear mind during the simulation so that they learn something from the experience."—Tim Glaspie  —Train the trainer: A trainer (not shown) is interviewing a virtual Soldier in a role-playing session. The virtual Soldier has a leadership role in an Army unit. The trainer must tell the virtual Soldier what the Soldier is not doing correctly. Trainers using this program show a 40% increase in their knowledge of the SHARP policy.Trainers using this role-playing program can review missed concepts and practice lessons they didn't get right during their first trial. "Repetition increases a team’s situational understanding of the tactics they’ll use ..."—Maj. Anthony Clas These simulations are created at Army Research Laboratory (ARL) West, and ICT, Playa Vista, CA
APGAberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen MD, also houses Combat Capabilities Development Command, formerly RDECOM), Army Materiel Systems Analysis Activity (AMSAA), and C5ISR center (the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center was formerly CERDEC)
CFT: Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (A-PNT)
Secretary of the Army Mark Esper has remarked that AFC will provide the unity of command and purpose needed to reduce the requirements definition phase from 60 months to 12 months.
A simple statement of a problem (rather than a full-blown requirements definition) that the Army is trying to address may suffice for a surprising, usable solution. —General Mike Murray, paraphrasing Trae Stephens:minute 41:50 (One task will be to quantify the lead time for identifying a requirement; the next task would then be to learn how to reduce that lead time.—Gap analysis ):minute 11:00 Process changes are expected. The development process will be cyclic, consisting of prototype, demonstration/testing, and evaluation, in an iterative process designed to unearth unrealistic requirements early, before prematurely including that requirement in a program of record. The ASA(ALT) Bruce Jette has cautioned the acquisition community to 'call-out' unrealistic processes which commit a program to a drawn-out failure, rather than failing early, and seeking another solution.
Secretary Esper scrubbed through 800 modernization programs to reprioritize funding for the top 6 modernization priorities, which will consume 80% of the modernization funding, of 18 systems. The Budget Control Act will restrict funds by 2020. Secretary McCarthy has cautioned that a stopgap 2019 Continuing resolution (CR) would halt development of some of the critical modernization projects. Realistically, budget considerations will restrict the fielding of new materiel to one Armor BCT per year; at that rate, updates would take decades. The Budget Control Act (BCA) expires in 2022. The "night court" budget review process realigned $2.4 billion for modernization away from programs which were not tied to modernization or to the 2018 National Defense Strategy. The total FY2021 budget request of $178 billion is $2 billion less than the enacted FY2020 budget of $180 billion.
The CIO/G6 has targeted Futures Command (Austin) in 2019 as the first pilot for "enterprise IT-as-a-service"-style service contracts; General Murray now (July 2019) has a sensitive compartmented information facility in his headquarters, as a result of this pilot. Two other locations are to be announced for 2019. Six to eight other pilots are envisioned for 2020. However, 288 other enterprise network locations remain to be migrated away from the previous "big bang" migration concept from several years ago, as they are vulnerable to near-peer cyber threats.:minute 16:50 The CIO/G6 emphasizes that this enterprise migration is not the tactical network espoused in the top six priorities (a 'mobile & expeditionary Army network').
After AFC, the following G6 service contracts are high priority:
By February 2020 the Vice Chief of Staff could assess that Army modernization was perceptibly speeding up.
Chief Milley noted that AFC would actively reach out into the community in order to learn, and that Senator John McCain's frank criticism of the acquisition process was instrumental for modernization reform at Futures command.:minute 7:30 In fact, AFC soldiers would blend into Austin by not wearing their uniforms [to work side-by-side with civilians in the tech hubs], Milley noted in 24 August 2018 press conference.:minute 6:20 Secretary Esper said he expected failures during the process of learning how to reform the acquisition and modernization process;:minute 18:20 the Network CFT and PEO have detected a process failure in the DOT&E requirements process: some test requirements were inappropriately applied.
In the Department of Defense, the materiel supply process was underwritten by the acquisition, logistics, and technology directorate of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), with a deputy secretary of defense (DSD) to oversee five areas, one of them being acquisition, logistics, and technology (ALT). ALT is overseen by an under secretary of defense (USD). (Each of the echelons at the level of DSD and USD serve at the pleasure of the president, as does the secretary of defense (SECDEF).) The Defense Acquisition University (DAU) trains acquisition professionals for the Army as well.
In 2016 when RDECOM reported to AMC (instead of to AFC, as it does as of 2018), AMC instituted Life cycle management command (LCMC) of three of RDECOM's centers for aviation and missiles, electronics, and tanks:AMRDEC,CERDEC, and TARDEC respectively, as well as the three contracting functions for the three centers.
This Life Cycle Management (formulated in 2004) was intended to exert the kind of operational control (OPCON) needed just for the sustainment function (AMC's need for Readiness today), rather than for its relevance to modernization for the future, which is the focus of AFC. AFC now serves as the deciding authority when moving a project in its Life Cycle, out of the Acquisition phase and into the Sustainment phase.
In light of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the Acquisition Executive has created a COVID-19 task force to try to project supplier problems 30, 60, and 90 days out.
Relevance for modernization
The CFTs,[Note 1] as prioritized 1 through 6 by the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA), each have to consider constraints: a balance of requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test, resourcing, costing, and sustainment.
The DOTMLPF method of mission planning was instituted to quantify tradeoffs in joint planning. TRADOC's Mission Command CoE uses DOTMLPF.
DOTMLPF will be used for modernization of the Army beyond materiel alone, which (as of 2019) is the current focus of the CFTs.
The updated modernization strategy, to move from concept to doctrine as well, will be unveiled by summer 2019.
DOTMLPF (doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities) itself is planned as a driver for modernization. The plan is to have an MDO-capable Army by 2028, and an MDO-ready Army by 2035.
TRADOC, ASA (ALT), and AFC are tied together in this process, according to Vice Chief McConville. AFC will have to be "a little bit disruptive [but not upsetting to the existing order]" in order to institute reforms within budget in a timely way.
The ASA(ALT), or Assistant Secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics, and technology is currently (2018) Dr. Bruce Jette. The ASA(ALT) is the civilian executive overseeing both the acquisition and the sustainment processes of the Department of the Army. The ASA(ALT) will coordinate the acquisition portion of modernization reform with AFC.:Para. 1c
Congress has given the Army OTA (Other Transaction Authority),[Note 2] which allows the PEOs to enter into Full Rate Production quicker by permitting the services to control their own programs of record, rather than DoD. This strips out one layer of bureaucracy as of 2018.
MTA (middle tier acquisition authority) is another tool available to Program Managers and Contracting Officers.
In addition, the Program Executive Officers (PEOs) of ASA (ALT) are to maintain a dotted-line relationship[Note 1] (i.e., coordination) with Futures Command.
There is now a PEO for Rapid Capabilities, to get rapid turnaround. The Rapid capabilities office (RCO)'s PEO gets two program managers, one for rapid prototyping, and one for rapid acquisition, of a capability. The Rapid capabilities office (RCO) does not develop its own requirements; rather, the RCO gets the requirements from the Cross-functional team (CFT). Rapid Capabilities (RCO) was headed by Tanya Skeen as PEO RCO but Skeen moved to DoD, in late 2018. In 2019 RCO became the Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO)Redstone arsenal, headed by LTG L. Neil Thurgood, lately of ASA(ALT)'s Army Hypersonics office.
Progress toward MDO
The CG of Army Futures Command (AFC) is set to announce full operational capability (FOC) 31 July 2019.
XM1299 Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA) a descendant of the Paladin self-propelled howitzer. Picatinny Arsenal
The Army G8 is monitoring just how producible (Milestone C) the upcoming materiel will be; for the moment, the G8 is funding the materiel. Follow-up on Modernization reviews is forthcoming, on a regular basis, according to the G8.
Long Range Precision Fires (LRPF) is a systematic program to extend the artillery's range. The current tests show the range has doubled.
The current Paladin (M109A6) cannon range is doubling (M109A7).:minute 2:30 An operational test of components of Long range cannon (LRC) is scheduled for 2020. LRC is complementary to Extended range cannon artillery (ERCA), the XM1299 Extended Range Cannon Artillery howitzer. Investigations for ERCA in 2025: rocket-boosted artillery shells: Tests of the Multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) XM30 rocket shell have demonstrated a near-doubling of the range of the munition, using the Tail controlled guided multiple launch rocket system, or TC-G. The TRADOC capability manager (TCM) Field Artillery Brigade - DIVARTY has been named a command position.[Note 3]
An autoloader for ERCA's 95-pound shells is under development at Picatinny Arsenal, to support a sustained firing rate of 10 rounds a minute from ERCA. A robotic vehicle for carrying the shells is a separate prototyping effort at Futures Command's Army Applications Lab.
The Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) is slated to replace the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) in 2023. PrSM flight testing is delayed beyond 2 August 2019, the anticipated date for the expiration of the INF Treaty, which set 499 kilometer limits on intermediate-range missiles. (David Sanger and Edward Wong project that the earliest test of a longer range missile could be a ground-launched version of a Tomahawk cruise missile, followed by a test of a mobile ground launched IRBM with a range of 1800-2500 miles before year-end 2019.) The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was approved 9 December 2019, which allows the Pentagon to continue testing such missiles in FY2020; Paul McCleary points out that Congress will still need an Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) for the prospective missile acquisitions. The Lockheed PrSM prototype flew its 10 December 2019 first launch at White Sands Missile Range, in a 150-mile test, and an overhead detonation; the Raytheon PrSM prototype is delayed from its planned November launch, and Raytheon has now withdrawn from the PrSM risk reduction phase. The PrSM's range and accuracy, the interfaces to HIMARS launcher, and test software, met expectations.
The Long range hypersonic weapon (LRHW) will use precision targeting data against anti-access area denial (A2AD) radars and other critical infrastructure of near-peer competitors by 2023. LRHW does depend on stable funding.
An Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator, compact enough for AMPVs, Bradleys, OMFVs, or RCVs, can generate 1,000 horsepower from diesel. Alternatively, the demonstrator can generate electrical power: 160 kiloWatts for SHORAD high-energy lasers, or for propulsion of a 50-ton vehicle in quiet mode, for brief periods.
A ground mobility vehicle competition, bids closing 26 October 2018
The JLTV was approved for full rate production in June 2019. Joint Modernization Command (JMC) is supporting a TCM Stryker study on the optimum number of JLTVs for light infantry brigades.
Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF): approved by joint requirements oversight council. Two vendors were selected to build competing prototype light tanks (MPF), with contract award in 2022. A unit of 82nd Airborne Division will begin assessment of prototype MPFs beginning in March 2020.
Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV): soliciting input, in requirements definition stage; the 2018 requirement was that 2 OMFVs fit in a C-17. A request for proposal (RFP) for a vehicle prototype was placed 29 March 2019. On 16 January 2020 the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle solicitation was cancelled, as a middle tier acquisition in its early stage; the requirements and schedule are being revisited. The FY2021 budget request has been adjusted accordingly.
Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs): General Murray envisions that by FY2023 critical decisions will be made on RCVs after years of experimentation.
Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD): prototypes by two teams to replace UH-60 with Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA). The tilt-rotor FLRAA demonstrator by Bell is flying unmanned (October 2019); it logged 100 hours of flight testing by April 2019. Both Bell and Sikorsky-Boeing received contract awards to compete in a risk reduction effort (CDRRE) for FLRAA in March 2020. The risk reduction effort will be a 2-phase, 2 year competition. The competition will transition technologies (powertrain, drivetrain and control laws) from the previous demonstrators (JMR-TDs) of 2018-2019 to requirements, conceptual designs, and acquisition approach for the weapon system. The Aviation PEO would then be able to present an acquisition strategy to the Acquisition Executive (potentially a full and open competition for FLRAA in a future Fiscal Year).
The Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) is smaller than FLRAA. The Army issued requests for proposals (RFPs) for FARA. RFPs were due in December 2018; in April 2019, the Army awarded 5 Other transaction authority (OTA) contracts to vendors with a Milestone C in 2028. Each agreement spans the entire acquisition process, from design, to prototype, to flight test, to low-volume production, to fielding, to full-rate production (Milestone C); but each agreement is subject to cancellation, if need be. Competing FARA demonstrators will also be built by Bell, and by Sikorsky, in three year efforts beginning in 2020.
Future tactical unmanned aircraft systems (FTUAS): drones which do not require runways
Up through 2028, every two years the Army will insert new capability sets for ITN (Capability sets '21, '23, '25, etc.). and take feedback from Soldier-led experiment & evaluation.
Five Rapid Innovation Fund (RIF) awards have been granted to five vendors via the Network CFT and PEO C3T's request for white papers. That request, for a roll-on/roll-off kit that integrates all functions of mission command on the Army Network, was posted at the National Spectrum Consortium and FedBizOpps, and yielded awards within eight months.[Note 2] Two more awards are forthcoming.
The Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO)'s Emerging Technologies Office structured a competition to find superior AI/Machine Learning algorithms for electronic warfare, from a field of 150 contestants, over a three-month period.[Note 2]
The Multi-Domain Operations Task Force (MDO TF) is standing up an experimental Electronic Warfare Platoon to prototype an estimated 1000 EW soldiers needed for the 31 BCTs of the active Army.
Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System (IBCS):p.42 second limited user test is scheduled to take place in the fourth quarter of FY20. On 1 May 2019 an Engagement Operations Center (EOC) for the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) Battle Command System (IBCS) was delivered to the Army, at Huntsville, Alabama. IAMD is intended to integrate the following:
Lower tier air and missile defense sensor (LTAMDS) —PEO RCO is accelerating LTAMDS experimentation by downselecting to two competitors with award by 2023[Note 2] The fielding aim for LTDAMDS is 2022.
LTAMDS uses gallium nitride (GaN) RF elements. It replaces the Patriot radar, fits on a C-17, and feeds data to IBCS.
High Energy Laser Tactical Vehicle Demonstrator (HEL-TVD) 2019
fielding 50 kW lasers on Strykers in 2021 and 2022 to two battalions per year.
F-35, Aegis, Patriot, LTAMDS, and THAAD radars will interoperate. On 30 August 2019 at Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein atoll, THAAD Battery E-62 successfully intercepted a medium range ballistic missile (MRBM), using a radar which was well-separated from the interceptors; the next step tested Patriot missiles as interceptors while using THAAD radars as sensors; a THAAD radar has a longer detection range than a Patriot radar. THAAD Battery E-62 engaged the MRBM without knowledge of just when the medium range ballistic missile had launched.
Although on 21 August 2019 the Missile defense agency (MDA) cancelled the $5.8 billion contract for the Redesigned kill vehicle (RKV), the Army's 100th Missile Defense Brigade will continue to use the Exo-Atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV). The current Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) programs continue per plan, with 64 ground-based interceptors (GBIs) in the missile fields for 2019.
The TRADOC capability manager (TCM) for Strategic Missile Defense (SMD) has accepted the charter for DOTMLPF for the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT).
Next-generation squad weapon: Expect 100,000 to be fielded to the Close Combat Force: Infantry, Armor, Cavalry, Special Forces, and Combat engineers. Tests at Fort Benning in 2019. —Chief of Staff Milley
Nine thousand systems, with two drones apiece are being purchased over a three-year period for the 9-man infantry squads heading to Afghanistan.
Synthetic training environment (STE)—a CFT devoted to an augmented reality system to aid planning, using mapping techniques, even at squad level will begin fielding by 2021. In October 2019 the Synthetic Training Environment (STE) prototype is being used by Special Operations for planning actual missions.
Enterprise campaign planning
In 2019 DoD planners are exercising DOTMLPF in planning, per the National Defense Strategy (NDS),
in the shift from counterinsurgency (COIN) to competition with near-peer powers. The evaluations from planners' scenarios will be determining materiel and organization by late 2020.
Futures Command is formulating multiyear Enterprise campaign plans, in 2019. The planning process includes Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC), AFC's cross-functional teams (CFTs), Futures and Concepts (FCC), Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), and Army Reserve's Houston-based 75th Innovation Command. At this stage, one goal is to formulate the plans in simple, coherent language which nests within the national security strategic documents.
AFC faces multiple futures, both as threat and opportunity. The Army's warfighting directive, viz., "to impose the nation's political will on its enemy" —Chief of Staff Milley, is to be ready for multiple near-term futures.
Under Secretary McCarthy notes that Gen. Murray functions as the Army's Chief Investments Officer (more precisely, its "chief futures modernization investment officer").:Section 4[Note 2] Funding for the top six priorities could mean that existing programs might be curtailed.
Targeting with thousand-mile missiles, "streamlining the sensor-shooter link at every echelon"—BG John Rafferty, in Integrated fire
NGCV Next generation combat vehicle
Much smaller and lighter ground combat vehicles, optionally unmanned (See Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC)) for robotic vehicles
If robotic combat vehicles (RCVs) do not need to be manned, neither would they need to be armored; use of sensors and batteries could replace the armor. Soldiers have learned to remotely operate the weapons on such RCVs in several days; the CCDC RCV Center and CFT are placing RCV prototypes and the Soldier's vehicle prototypes in company-level scenarios in Europe, in 2020 and forward.
JWA 19 (April–May 2019): I Corps, at JLBM (Joint base Lewis-McChord), is getting modernization training on the robotic complex breaching concept (RCBC), and the command post computing environment (CPCE) from Joint modernization command (JMC) training staff.
Jen Judson reports that Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley is proposing that the brigades begin to electrify their vehicles using hybrid, or all-electric propulsion, or perhaps other mobile power plants.
FVL "Our new approach is really to prototype as much as we can to help us identify requirements, so our reach doesn’t exceed our grasp. ... A good example is Future Vertical Lift: The prototyping has been exceptional." —Secretary of the Army Mark Esper
The FARA (Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft) scout helicopter prototypes are to be designed to fly along urban streets, to survive air defenses. Five design vendors were selected, with downselect to two for prototyping by February 2020.
These aircraft are envisioned as platforms for utilizing sensor networks to control and enable weapons delivery, as demonstrated in a 2019 experiment. In preparation for FVL platforms, the FVL CFT demonstrated a 2020 Spike non-line of sight missile launch from an Apache gunship at Yuma Proving Ground, for extended range capability; a forward air launch of an unmanned sensor aircraft (UAS) from a helicopter was demonstrated at YPG as well.
Mobile & Expeditionary Network / MDO Multi-domain operations
In the battlefield of the future, where nowhere is safe for long, "you will miss opportunities to get to positions of advantage if you don't synthesize the data very quickly"—LTG Wesley (AI for multi-domain command and control: MDC2)
ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) needs to match the range of the upcoming LRPF (Long range precision fires) and thousand-nautical-mile missile standoff capability of the Army.
Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing (A-PNT) A solar-powered drone successfully stayed aloft at Yuma Proving Ground for nearly 26 days, at times descending to 55,000 feet to avoid adverse weather conditions, while remaining well above the altitudes flown by commercial aircraft, and landing per plan in the summer of 2018, to meet other testing commitments.
Prototype jam-resistant GPS kits are being fielded to 2nd Cavalry Regiment in EUCOM before year-end 2019. More than 300 Strykers of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment are being fitted with the Mounted Assured Precision Navigation & Timing System (MAPS), with thousands more planned for EUCOM.
A Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) to Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) is under development.
Low Earth orbit satellites for Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing— "When you look at the sheer number of satellites that go up and the reduced cost to do it, it gives us an array of opportunities on how to solve the problems" in A-PNT
CCDC Army Research Laboratory (ARL) researchers have proposed and demonstrated a way for small ground-based robots with mounted antennas to configure phased arrays, a technique which usually takes a static laboratory to develop. Instead the researchers used robots to covertly create and focus a highly directional parasitic array (see Yagi antenna).
Integrated Air and Missile Battle Command System (IBCS) award, including next software build. $238 million also funds initial prototypes of the command and control system for fielding in FY22.
Hypersonic glide vehicle launch preparations, beginning in 2020, and continuing with launches every six months.
At Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake an FVL CFT-sponsored demonstration of interconnected sensors handed-off the control of a glide munition which had been launched from a Grey Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS). During the flight of that munition, another group of sensors picked up a higher-priority target; another operator at the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) redirected the glide munition to the higher-priority target and destroyed it.
Sensor-to-shooter prototype for multi-domain battle, 2019 operational assessment: Air Force RCO / Army RCO / Network CFT
CCDC ARL researchers are developing a flexible, waterproof, lithium-ion battery of any size and shape, for soldiers to wear; the electrolyte is water itself. In 2020 the batteries were engineering prototypes; by 2021 soldiers will wear the battery for themselves for the first time.
CCDC ARL and DoE's PNNL are examining the solid-electrolyte-interphase (SEI) as it first forms during the initial charging of a Lithium-ion battery. They have found an inner SEI (thin, dense, and inorganic —most likely lithium oxide) between the copper electrode, and an outer SEI which is organic and permeable — a finding which will be useful when building future batteries.
CCDC ARL is undertaking an Essential research program (ERP) in the processes underlying Additive manufacturing (3D printing), which is applicable to munitions.
Natick Soldier RDEC has awarded an Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contract to prototype soldier exoskeletons which augment human leg strength under harsh conditions.
Plans for the Infantry squad vehicle (ISV) are underway. An ISV is meant to be airdropped for a squad of 9 paratroopers.
Assured pointing, navigation and tracking (A-PNT) devices are being miniaturized, with increased redundant positioning sources. This aids wearability.:pp220-3
In September 2019 in the Maneuver CoE's Battle Lab at Fort Benning, OneSAF simulations of a platoon augmented by UAS drones, ground robots, and AI were able to dislodge a defending force 3 times larger, repeatedly. But by current doctrine, a near-battalion would have been required to accomplish that mission.
The British Army is also investigating innovations, such as robots and drones, including 70 technologies funded by a $1 billion (₤800 million) innovation fund launched in 2016. Two hundred troops will engage in "surveillance, long-range, and precision targeting, enhanced mobility and the re-supply of forces, urban warfare and enhanced situational awareness".
"By 2020 the Army's programs for modernization were now framed as a decades-long process of cooperation with allies and partners, for competition with potential adversaries who historically have blurred the distinction between peace and war," — from: Reorganization plan of United States Army
In 2020, one measure of military power projection ranks the competition between the armies of the world (after the US Army, which is ranked atop this list). The list of armies, a mixture of allies, partners, and competitors is estimated to be:
Russia jammed the GPS signal during NATO exercises in November 2018. In 2014 the DoD's research and engineering chief Alan Shaffer warned that the 'US lost dominance of the electromagnetic spectrum' (EMS), in part due to the US government selloff of EMS radio frequencies, and also due in part to the proliferation of digital technologies which allow for low-cost jammers. (See: meaconing) General Valery Gerasimov advocates hybrid warfare, a "blend of political, economic and military power to bear against adversaries".
China — RAND simulations show Blue losses. Six of the top 15 defense companies in the world are now Chinese, in 2019 for the first time. The competition with China is being shaped in the current decade 2010–2020, according to David Kriete. In 2017 China adopted the National Intelligence Law which obligates Chinese companies to subordinate themselves to intelligence-gathering measures for the state.
On 13 July 2018, U.S. Army Secretary Mark Esper said AFC's headquarters would be based in Austin, Texas.
AFC spreads across three locations totalling 75,000 square feet; one of the locations in a University of Texas System building at 210 W. Seventh St. in downtown Austin, on the 15th and 19th floors. The UT Regents will not be charging rent to AFC until December 2019. The command began initial operations on 1 July 2018.
On 16 July 2018, Lieutenant General John M. Murray was nominated for a fourth star and appointment as Army Futures Command's first commanding general.
His appointment was confirmed 20 August 2018 and he assumed command during the official activation ceremony of AFC on 24 August 2018, in Austin, Texas.
The AFC commander, in a hearing before Congress' House Armed Services Committee, projects that materiel will result from the value stream below, within a two-year time frame, from concept to Soldier. The commanding general is assisted by three deputy commanders.
the Futures and Concepts Center, led by AFC deputy commanding general Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, who is seeking 4 value streams for reducing the time invested to define a relevant requirement:
Experiments (Testing of a system to a known expectation of effects, or else observation of that system, in the absence of a specific expectation of effects)
Concepts development (Development of a relevant idea about that system)
Requirements development (Development of the terms and conditions for that system)
Combat Development element, Army Futures Command. Lt. Gen. James M. Richardson is the deputy commander. He assists the commander with efforts to assess and integrate the future operational environment, emerging threats, and technologies to develop and deliver concepts, requirements, and future force designs to posture the Army for the future.
The Capability development integration directorate (CDID) of each Center of Excellence (CoE), works with its CFT[Note 1] and its research, development and engineering center (RDEC) to develop operational experiments and prototypes to test.
The Battle Labs and The Research Analysis Center (TRAC) prototype and analyze the concepts to test.
JMC is capable of providing live developmental experiments to test those concepts or capabilities, "scalable from company level to corps, amid tough, realistic multi-domain operations".
RDECOM becomes the Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC), part of the Combat Development element, on 3 February 2019.
Combat Systems Directorate will be led by Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski (Principal Military Deputy (PMILDEP) to the ASA(ALT)):AD2018-15,6b:PMILDEP will additionally be AFC director, Combat Systems who will produce those developed solutions and seek feedback.
Gen. Robert Abrams has tasked III Corps with providing Soldier feedback for the Next Generation Combat Vehicles CFT, XVIII Corps for the Soldier feedback on the Soldier lethality CFT, the Network CFT, as well as the Synthetic training CFT, and I Corps for the Long Range Precision Fires CFT.
Combat Systems refines, engineers, and produces the developed solutions from Combat Development.
An analysis by AMSAA can then assess that concept or capability, as a promising system for a materiel development decision.
... what I do think you will see is some of the capabilities the cross-functional teams are working will be in production and being delivered and in the hands of soldiers in the next two years" —Gen. John "Mike" Murray (2018).
Army Chief of Staff Milley is looking for AFC to attain full operational capability (FOC) by August 2019.
The capabilities as prioritized by the Chief of Staff, will use subject matter experts in the realms of requirements, acquisition, science and technology, test, resourcing, costing, and sustainment, using Cross Functional Teams (CFTs) for:
By Acquisition or Business System category (ACAT or BSC). The Weapon systems in each ACAT are sorted alphabetically by Weapon system name. Each weapon system might also be in several variants (Lettered); a weapon system's variants might be severally and simultaneously in the following phases of its Life Cycle, namely — °Materiel Solution Analysis; °Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction; °Engineering & Manufacturing Development; °Production & Deployment; °Operations & Support
^ abcdJP-1 p.xxi has the definition of operational control (OPCON). Note that "command authority may not be delegated" (COCOM being command authority). p.xxii has the definition of administrative control (ADCON): one application being coordinating authority.
^In, for example Waverider hypersonic weapons delivery, China has flown a Mach 5.5 vehicle for 400 seconds, at 30 km altitude, demonstrating large-angle deviations from a ballistic trajectory, as well as recovery of the payload. See
^As an example, any number of effects can be weaponized (see p.1 The New York Times 2 September 2018 "Invisible strikes may be cause of envoy's ills", describing the Microwave auditory effect), or else countered. Hypersonic vehicles are a countermeasure to ballistic missiles.