As part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s breakfast series, the January event was held at the National Museum of the U.S. Army on Belvoir, Tuesday, with guest speaker Gen. James McConville, Army chief of staff. McConville laid out the vision that incremental changes are no longer sufficient to equip warfighters, and it is an inflection point for the Army not seen since Vietnam.
McConville said that we built our modern army more than 40 years ago and that equipment is at its limits.
“We are reaching our limits of technology and design that we developed back in the 1970s,” McConville said. “We can only add so much weight to our mechanized vehicles; we can only make our current helicopters fly so fast and so far; and conditions have changed. We recognize that we will be tested in all five domains: on land; in the air; on the sea; and in space and cyber, in the future.
“We are taking a tactical pause in solicitation, we’re going to reset the requirements and the acquisition strategy and timeline; and then aggressively pursue the critical weapons systems we need in the future,” he said, noting the Army wants to fly and drive prototype systems before investing a large amount of money in buying them.
“Much of this change is happening right now. An example of transformational change is Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems. It’s like putting on a slightly larger pair of Oakley sunglasses with both night-vision and heads-up display,” he said. “In this device, our Soldiers can see a 3-D battle; they receive video from drones and other sources as they’re on the battlefield; they see their weapons sight for faster aiming and can shoot around corners or behind cover.
“But, what I view as the most transformational concepts about this system is that you can use this to train in virtual reality. Think about it: you’re on your way to a real-world mission, and you can train with your team or squad, with simulated terrain with less time and fewer resources,” McConville said.
“ … it’s an exciting time to be in the Army,” he said. “We aren’t looking for faster horses for our cavalry. We aren’t trying to fight the last fight better. We want to win the next fight. It’s going to take transformational change to get there, and it won’t happen with incremental improvements,” he said.