Army Pursues New Evolving "Doctrine" for Future Warfare

Warrior Maven

Video: Army Research Lab Scientist Describes Human Brain as Sensor Connecting With AI

By Kris Osborn - Warrior Maven

(Washington D.C.) The Cold War AirLand battle doctrinal framework shaped military thinking for decades, as it sought to draw upon the kinds of combat dynamics and maneuvers anticipated to inform any kind of major mechanized engagement with Soviet forces on the European continent.

It was both clear and significant in several respects as it was built upon a way to apply Combined Armed Maneuver thinking across multiple services to envision a kind of synchronized air-ground combat attack against a numerically superior, heavily armored Soviet force. The concept, which was considered enterprising and crucial to war planning for decades, has in more recent years been replaced by newer kinds of doctrinal thinking. Many see the rapid advent of new technologies, weapons and networking systems in recent years as something expected to reshape, if not completely transition, traditional notions of Combined Arms Maneuver. New doctrinal approaches to warfare are expected to continually emerge and evolve in coming years, according to senior Army thinkers and futurists.

“We usually go in decades when it comes to the doctrinal cycle. I think the rate of innovation and the rate of technological change is going to drive us for the foreseeable future toward an evolution in doctrine. As new technologies come on scale. how do we evolve our existing doctrine? Much like technology iterates, I see shorter cycles of our doctrinal evolution to account for innovation and technology,” Gen. John Murray, Commander, Army Futures Command, told The National Interestin an interview.

So, what are some of the emerging concepts? Certainly, the arrival of space, cyberspace and electronic warfare, for example, have continued to inspire multi-domain thinking when it comes to joint warfare planning. The information explosion enabled by computing, space connectivity, software programmable, long-range radios and interwoven groups of targeting sensors have led all the service to think of warfare as increasingly dispersed across a wide theater of operations. This means future operations will be more disaggregated and, perhaps most of all, determined by the speed and accuracy of secure information exchange. For instance, upon a few occasions Murray has told me his evolving concept of future warfare is based in large measure on the expectation of a “hyperactive battlefield.”

The concept of multi-node, multidomain mesh networking and massively expedited sensor to shooter cycles, something which the Pentagon has long been pursuing, may now be coming to fruition in some extremely impactful ways. The Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations, a warfighting strategy grounded in large measure upon the arrival of long-range sensors, weapons and multi-domain networking technologies. The Army’s Integrated Battle Command System(IBCS) is fast-progressing warfare connectivity to new levels of multi-domain synergy as it connects otherwise disparate or separated radar systems, sensors and combat nodes to one another in enterprising ways. IBCS can, for instance, help connect F-35 stealth fighter jet aerial targeting operations to ground-based missile defenses and even pass continuous targeting track data over unprecedented distances between offensive and defensive combat nodes.

Part of this equation, which Murray refers to, is the pace at which the arrival of artificial intelligence and cloud technologies are driving the arrival of new concepts, tactics and combat strategies. One of his big areas of focus with Army Futures Command, is to not only closely explore the details of newly arriving technologies and weapons systems but continuously examine the particular ways in which they reshape, change or restructure combat maneuver formations. Perhaps this is why he envisions future doctrine as more of an iterative or evolving process instead of fixed increments or more static blocks of time.

-- Kris Osborn is the Managing Editor of Warrior Maven and The Defense Editor of The National Interest --

Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Lockheed Martin

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