To keep pace with a changing battlefield, Army leaders said the service must continually adapt while maintaining a robust exercise schedule and adjusting to a challenging recruiting landscape.
In addition, the Army’s new Chief of Staff, Gen. Randy A. George, said the service must continually change the force, through strengthening deterrence capabilities and bolstering interoperability with other services and multinational partners.
“We’re trying to look at warfighting as continuous transformation,” George said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies land power discussion Sept. 19. “What we want to do is tie all the pieces together and make sure we’re doing this in a continuous fashion.”
The Army engaged in two of the largest multi-national exercises, Super Garuda Shield in September and Australia’s Talisman Sabre in July and August. Super Garuda Shield, which concluded Sept. 13 in Indonesia, fielded participation from 14 nations including first-time participants Australia, Singapore and Japan. The event included a combined arms, live-fire and amphibious and airborne exercises.
In August, more than 3,000 Soldiers completed Pershing Strike 23, a mass mobilization exercise at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois; Fort Riley, Kansas; Camp Atterbury-Muscatatuck, Indiana; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin and other locations.
Earlier this year, the Army announced the branch’s joint, multi-domain series of experiments, Project Convergence, will no longer be an annual event. Instead, the service will adopt a more steady set of exercises throughout the year in support of the experiments. The service expanded the complexity and scope of its exercise during both Project Convergence 22 and Talisman Sabre 23, which included 12 partner nations with exercises across five states and territories.
Talisman Sabre featured a joint, mass exercise where U.S. forces and allies protected an island chain from a hostile force. In PC 22, the Army used autonomous vehicles to simulate longer distances that U.S. forces could see in future wars.
George added that the Army could explore more cost-effective options including using 3D printing drones and loitering munitions.
The ongoing Ukraine conflict has led to a greater focus on contested logistics, Wormuth said. In April, Army Futures Command announced the establishment of a Contested Logistics Cross-Functional team, which will reduce the service’s logistics footprint, use autonomous technology to extend operational reach and movement, and leverage data analytics to invest in predictive logistics capabilities.
To meet the requirements of supporting operations in the Pacific and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the Army must continue to bolster recruiting, Wormuth said. In June, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks assigned the Army as the lead service for the defense of the U.S. territory of Guam.
“The Army, in terms of [operations] tempo, is about a busy now as we were during two decades of the global war on terrorism,” Wormuth said. “That’s surprising but when you think of everything we’re doing in Europe … with all that we’re doing in the Indo Pacific. We’re very, very busy.”
While the branch will likely fall short of its recruiting goals in 2023, the service has seen an uptick in the “pace” of new enlistment contracts over the last two months Wormuth said. Wormuth said that she would like the Army to be able to recruit about 60,000 new Soldiers annually to attend basic training.
“You could not fight a major war in Europe or in Asia very effectively with an Army that's smaller than 450,000,” Wormuth said. “That’s why it’s really an existential issue for us to resolve our recruiting challenges.”
George added that the service must holistically transform the way it trains and educates the Army’s people.
“People are decisive element of this and I think we’ve seen that in Ukraine with the will and the skill down at the very tactical level,” George said.