Photo "Go Army. com"
As an Army Veteran, and having worked in Aerospace over 3 decades to support Army programs, I found the below article by John Keller, Editor in Chief, "Military & Aerospace Electronics" magazine an objective and disturbing piece. Note the references to mission vacuum and lack of civilian leadership in Washington D.C.
John highlights that as the nation is struggling with stagnated politics the services are hampered by a lack of hard information to plan ahead.
Mr. Keller introduces a historical perspective and an excellent view of the hard issues, challenges and uncertainty that the Army and industry in its supporting role are facing today.
"MILITARY AND AEROSPACE ELECTRONICS":
"A variety of factors are gathering into a potential perfect storm that could threaten the U.S. Army's future mission, the continuing relevance of the oldest American military service, and how the defense industry can move forward to support the Army's needs.
Some of these factors are well-known: sequestration, dim prospects for budget growth, and substantial technology research and development that for most practical purposes has come nearly to a dead-stop.
Perhaps most serious, however, is how top military and civilian leadership define the Army's role moving into the future, the top threats the Army will evolve to meet, and the very relevance of a large standing Army in an era when large-scale, big-iron military land battles appear to be part of the past.
Here's where we are today: U.S. military forces are finishing their exit from Iraq, where they have operated for more than a decade. Their final exit from Afghanistan is but a few years off, or less. When operations on Southwest Asia are completed, where does the Army go from there?
The Army has had a clear set of missions since the U.S. entered World War II in 1941. Although the close of the Second World War in 1945 saw a rapid drawdown in U.S. military power, the strengthening Soviet Union was on everyone's mind.
Less than five years after World War II ended, North Korea invaded South Korea, which created another sudden and dire mission for the Army. That mission grew from containing North Korean forces to containing Communism around the world, which continued until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. One year later, Iraq invaded Kuwait, which gave rise to Operation Desert Shield, and eventually the military ouster of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm, in which the Army played a central role.
For the next decade, keeping an eye on a contained-but-restless Iraqi military, on ethnic strife in what then was Yugoslavia, and on other simmering hot spots throughout the world held the Army's attention and helped define its mission.
Today things are different. Counter-insurgency operations are nearing an end in Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia does not pose the immediate military threat that did its predecessors of the Soviet Union, and Europe has been relatively quiet.
Still, trouble spots persist in areas like Syria and Iran, but with no open conflict yet involving U.S. Army forces. There is no immediate and dire threat in these areas, and hence no clear Army mission-at least not yet.
So how does the Army move forward? Counter-insurgency, certainly. Special Forces capability, of course. But what's the role of the large Army infrastructure involving large combat infantry units, main battle tanks, armored fighting vehicles, and other organizations designed for large ground conflicts?
I'm not sure there is a role, and I'm not convinced that the top Army leadership today knows what its role in the future will be, either. Maybe the Army is at a moment of transition, and leaders will get a handle on the Army's core mission sometime soon. With the civilian leadership vacuum we have in Washington, I'm not sure the Army will be able to do so. If Army leaders are unable to define the Army's long-term mission clearly, then the defense industry will have no idea how to proceed, other than to guess.
These factors were on display just below the surface last month at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA). What was striking in exhibits was a lack of direction in where we go from here. It was as though the industry were pointing out to the Army officers walking the aisles how far technology has led us to this moment, yet pleading for direction on where the industry should go from here."
About the Author:
John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.