This month marks the transformation of the U.S. Army's only air assault division into a new modular format that is designed to lead the Army into the future. Following similar changes at the 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is metamorphosing into a modular construct that brings with it significant changes in structure and equipment.
Even Wal-Mart's Sam Walton might stand in awe of the way the U.S. Army is transforming its logistics infrastructure. The service has identified four focus areas for change and is now in the blueprinting phase of improving how the supply chain links. With the support of commercial enterprise resource planning technology, the Army is targeting problems to ensure that data is not the only asset that makes it to the end of the last tactical mile.
The U.S. Army's force restructuring effort is affecting every aspect of the service, including the way signal soldiers train. To address the communications needs of modular units, the U.S. Army Signal Center, Fort Gordon, Georgia, is helping to create a multifunctional signal soldier who can accomplish different tasks as required by the unit. As joint operations drive doctrine and technical solutions, the Army's junior leaders are being taught from the start to think about how the Army works with the other services beyond the realm of joint task forces.
Future U.S. Army warfighters are more likely to resemble adversaries from an Arnold Schwarzenegger or Star Trek movie than GI Joe. The service is fully engaged in its effort to rebuild soldiers' uniforms from the skin out to increase lethality and survivability and at the same time lighten their load. The work complements radical design changes to platforms such as tanks and unmanned vehicles.
The U.S. Army is changing its combat philosophy to resemble more closely those of the other services. Instead of being the armored force that can absorb whatever an enemy hurls at it and respond in kind, the transformed Army will rely on advanced technologies to prevent an enemy from inflicting harm on U.S. forces. This new approach could include eluding adversaries and their weaponry, or striking first before the foe can bring its weapons to bear.
U.S. Army signal experts may become as mobile as the information they send zipping around cyberspace if the service's new chief information officer has his way. Future signal units may move from force to force in battle to ensure that the service has the connectivity it needs to prevail in a network-centric battlespace.
The U.S. Army is taking a major leap forward on two future warfighting fronts as it more closely examines how it will operate in the joint environment as well as in conflicts in the next decade. Teaming with the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the service recently conducted a war game that explored future concepts in which the U.S. military must react to aggression from a competent military adversary. The command and the Army identified several challenges that must be addressed, including denied physical access and well-networked adversaries, and are now developing recommendations that will be sent up the chain of command.