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Chapter 4

The Way Ahead

You cannot be saved by . . . devotion to your ancestors. To each generation comes its patriotic duty, and upon your willingness to sacrifice and endure, as those before you have sacrificed and endured, rests the national hope.

Charles Evans Hughes
Supreme Court Justice

Future Army Capabilities

The future holds many opportunities and challenges for The Army. War, aggression, and disaster will continue in various forms in many places. Indeed, some future threats may not yet have names. The Nation will surely call on The Army to deal with those problems-as it so often has in our history-and we must be ready. Readiness for the Nation's demands places a premium on quality Soldiers and well-trained leaders. These demands require The Army to be mentally and physically agile. The underlying concepts and appropriate force mix are important because they too must evolve to provide the agility to cope with a broad range of military operations.

Developing and fielding the right kind of force when facing continued technological advancements and changes in the strategic environment is a momentous challenge. Although we do not yet know precisely what The Army of the future will look like, we do have a clearer vision of the capabilities essential for a full spectrum force. Army forces currently possess the capabilities described below in varying degrees. However, as we move forward, these capabilities will guide The Army's transformation into a force that is strategically responsive and dominant across the range of military operations and spectrum of conflict. That force will be more responsive, deployable, lethal, versatile, agile, survivable, and sustainable than current forces.

Responsiveness has qualities of time, distance, and sustained momentum. It includes the ability to capitalize on the positioning of forward-deployed forces and supplies as well as strategic lift. It demands close, continuous coordination between Army component commanders and joint and interagency decision making bodies. To be credible, The Army must be responsive enough to counter any threats to American and allied interests anywhere in the world. Responsiveness also encompasses the political will of the Nation to deploy forces in response to a crisis or threat. For American forces to be successful, adversaries must realize that American land power can prevent them from achieving their aims and also recognize the willingness of the American people to support military action.

To be truly responsive, Army forces must be deployable and capable of quickly and rapidly concentrating combat power in an operational area. The Army goal is deploying a brigade combat team anywhere in the world in 96 hours after liftoff, a division in 120 hours, and five divisions in 30 days. This will require enhanced systems and capabilities. Systems must be transportable, logistics must be focused and flexible, and a culture within The Army that accepts deployment readiness as a way of life must be sustained. Army forces need support from the other services to achieve the required levels of deployability.

Enhanced lethality will allow Army forces to destroy any opponent quickly, with shattering effect. Lethal Army forces can combine the elements of combat power to provide overwhelming and decisive force at the right time, at the right place, and for the right purpose.

Versatility must be emphasized in doctrine and training at all levels. Our organizations must be able to generate formations that can achieve sustained land dominance at any point and in all environments. This must be done with minimal adjustments and in minimal time. Currently our warfighting organizations can be tailored to respond to the any contingency. However, the future will require even more versatile forces. Increasing versatility requires special consideration of structuring and equipping initiatives as well as training of personnel to respond to unfamiliar scenarios.

Army forces must possess the mental and physical agility to transition among the various types of operations, just as we have demonstrated the tactical warfighting agility to task organize on the move. Agile forces will be required to transition from stability operations and support operations to warfighting and back. As The Army crafts a more rapidly deployable force structure, it must continue to grow leaders who can adapt quickly to change. The pace and complexity of operations will increase, especially as military operations in the information environment become more important.

Survivability is the ability to combine systems, tactics, operations, and processes that afford optimum protection to deployed Army forces. Speed and lethality are essential characteristics for achieving survivable forces. Ground and air platforms that employ the best combinations of low observability, ballistic protection, long-range acquisition and targeting, early attack, and high first-round hit-and-kill technologies will be required to ensure the desired degrees of survivability.

Army forces must be sustainable across the spectrum of conflict. Sustainability requirements reflect the continuous, uninterrupted provision of combat service support to Army forces. Sustainability in a full spectrum Army will require a combat service support reach capability that allows commanders to reduce stockpiles in theater while relying on technology to provide sustained velocity management and real-time tracking of supplies and equipment. This includes the requisite combat support-such as, military police, military intelligence, and signal corps-and combat service support-such as, medical, transportation, maintenance, legal, religious, personnel, and finance corps-to support the force.

The Challenge

One challenge is clear: The Army must become more rapidly deployable without sacrificing survivability and lethality. It must retain the survivability, lethality, and tactical mobility of heavy forces while building forces that possess the agility and deployability of light forces. And the resulting force must meet tighter deployment time objectives. The rapidly changing strategic environment demands the development and fielding of new, adaptive force capabilities. The Army has already begun that process.

In the future, The Army will see a battlefield in which precision weaponry both demands and allows greater dispersion of forces. Increasing reliance on electronic systems for managing the fight will move even more combat into the information environment. The tempo will increase, as will the ability to detect and hide equipment. These factors will place greater demands on individual Soldiers, leaders, and supporting systems. Urban operations will continue to be manpower intensive, even as advances in technology make the conduct of urban battle more precise and discriminating.

Capabilities associated with the tools of war will improve, and combat techniques will reflect these changes. But fundamental to the realization of any improvements in technology, techniques, operational concepts, or strategy will be the capacity of the Soldier to bear the hardships of combat and adapt to mission demands. Soldiers remain the centerpiece of our formations. Their collective proficiency and willingness to undergo the brutal test of wills that is combat remains the ultimate test of Army force readiness.

The Characteristics of Future Operations

While many of the tactical missions conducted in the future will remain familiar, the increasing capability of potential adversaries, coupled with access to accurate, real-time information, will produce a different operational environment. Combat in the future will likely be multidimensional, noncontiguous, precise, and simultaneous.

While technology will be critical to achieving greater operational agility and precision lethality, the human dimension of war will also take on increased importance. The Soldier will remain the centerpiece of Army formations; and as the complexity of operations increases, well-trained and disciplined Soldiers and leaders will become more important than ever. The pervasive nature of information means that Soldiers on point become critical instruments of diplomacy.

In addition to dominating the area of operations in all its dimensions-including depth, width, height, time, and the electromagnetic spectrum-The Army must also gain information superiority. This means the operational advantage derived from the ability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an enemy's capability to do the same. The integration of advanced information technologies, highly capable leaders, and agile organizational systems will facilitate operations in noncontiguous areas. Unmanned systems with artificial intelligence will augment human action and decision making through improved situational understanding. This improvement in commanders' situational understanding will facilitate extremely rapid, decentralized operations.

The extensive information available to Army leaders will also allow unprecedented awareness of every aspect of future operations. Precise knowledge of the enemy and friendly situations will facilitate exact tailoring of units for mission requirements; tactical employment of precision fires; exploitative, decisive maneuver at extended ranges; and responsive, flexible support of those forces. Although knowledge will never be perfect, improved command and control systems will enable leaders to know far more than ever before about the nature of activities in their battlespace. They will have access to highly accurate information regarding enemy and friendly locations, the civil population, terrain, and weather. Such knowledge facilitates precision fires and maneuver to allow units to take advantage of all dimensions of the battlespace while exploiting weaknesses in the location and condition of enemy forces.

Because of the agility and lethality of the force, operations can occur in contiguous or noncontiguous areas. The common operational picture provided through integration of real-time intelligence and accurate targeting reduces the need to fill space with forces and direct fire weapons. Agile forces can also improve the capacity of commanders to employ combat power with precision to achieve a desired outcome.

The goal of future Army operations will be to simultaneously attack critical targets throughout the area of operations by rapid maneuver and precision fires to break the adversary's will and compel him to surrender. The cumulative effect of simultaneous shaping operations and nearly simultaneous decisive operations will be to reduce an adversary's ability to synchronize his effort and will establish the military conditions for friendly victory-decisive victory.


Wars may be fought by weapons, but they are won by men.

General George S. Patton, Jr.

The world and the strategic environment will continue to change, and The Army will continue to learn and adapt. Our current view of the future suggests that The Army will continue to conduct military operations other than war for many years and that we must be prepared to conduct major operations during war. The Nation should expect nontraditional challenges requiring the use of military force in various circumstances. If history is a guide, those nontraditional challenges will likely come from unexpected sources at unanticipated times and places. Threats to America's enduring interests, however, will most likely continue to come from nation-states and may well be directed against allies rather than against America directly. As the challenges grow and vary, The Army must adapt its responses to meet those challenges.

Increasingly, and at an accelerating pace, individual Soldier capabilities will be enhanced. The ability to move, shoot, and communicate accurately over greater distances will increase; the effects of maneuver and fires will be more effectively integrated; and the ability to operate with other services and with allied forces will continue to improve combat effectiveness. The dramatic improvements in military technology and the revolutions in military, logistic, and business affairs will improve soldier effectiveness. Despite improved technology, the Soldier's fundamental mission remains the same: close with and destroy the enemy or compel him to surrender.

As The Army transforms, Soldiers can rely on a few enduring truths to guide them. The Army must remain ready to fight and win the Nation's wars. We will do this in cooperation with the other services and across the range of military operations. The Army gains lasting victory through the swift, decisive, and overwhelming application of combat power. We also perform diverse tasks in military operations other than war that require us to develop and maintain a full range of capabilities to meet national security strategy requirements. The Army will constantly evolve its doctrine and organizations to meet future challenges, ensuring the existence of a responsive, deployable, versatile, agile, lethal, sustainable, and survivable force for as long as the Nation requires.

Finally, and most importantly, The Army is people. Soldiers are the centerpiece of our formations. American Soldiers consistently demonstrate the strength of liberty, justice, and hope. There is no moral comparison between American Soldiers and their adversaries in wars throughout our history. Thus, it is easy for Soldiers to believe in what they do. Despite danger, hardship, and separation from family, they treasure what they do for their country for two fundamental reasons:

  • First, they know they are doing something important. The American Army is a potent symbol of American values.
  • Second, no one does it better. American soldiers are the best there are-the best led and best trained warfighters in the world. They take great pride in their professional excellence and selfless service to the Nation.

Soldiers make our Army what it is-the world's most respected land force. Transformation is critical to ensuring our ability to protect our Nation's enduring interests in a new century. And, as we transform, we must preserve our readiness for full spectrum operations, especially our ability to fight and win wars. Ultimately, however, The Army is people-quality people-who understand that sacrifice is part of Army life. But they must perceive that sacrifice as worthwhile. That is America's nonnegotiable contract with The Army. We will neither transform nor sustain our readiness at the expense of The Army family.

The Army will remain a values-centered, doctrine-based profession of Soldiers, rooted in the fundamental principles cherished by all free people and manifested in the values of our Constitution. The United States Army places Soldiers on point for the Nation and remains persuasive in peace, invincible in war.

The 20th century can be called many things, but it was most certainly a century of war. The American G.I.s helped defeat fascism and communism. They came home in triumph from the ferocious battlefields of World Wars I and II. In Korea and Vietnam they fought just as bravely as any of their predecessors, but no triumphant receptions awaited them at home. They soldiered on through the twilight struggles of the Cold War and showed what they were capable of in Desert Storm. The American people took them into their hearts again.

In this century hundreds of thousands of G.I.s died to bring to the beginning of the 21st century the victory of democracy as the ascendant political system on the face of the earth. The G.I.s were willing to travel far away and give their lives, if necessary, to secure the rights and freedoms of others. Only a nation such as ours, based on a firm moral foundation, could make such a request of its citizens. And the G.I.s wanted nothing more than to get the job done and then return home safely. All they asked for in repayment from those they freed was the opportunity to help them become part of the world of democracy-and just enough land to bury their fallen comrades, beneath simple white crosses and Stars of David.

The volunteer G.I.s of today stand watch in Korea, the Persian Gulf, Europe and the dangerous terrain of the Balkans. We must never see them as mere hirelings, off in a corner of our society. They are our best, and we owe them our full support and our sincerest thanks.

As this century closes, we look back to identify the great leaders and personalities of the past 100 years. We do so in a world still troubled, but full of promise. That promise was gained by the young men and women of America who fought and died for freedom. Near the top of any listing of the most important people of the 20th century must stand, in singular honor, the American G.I.

General Colin Powell


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