The word of the year for the Army is “budget.” The buzzword (buzzphrase?) of the year is “multi-domain operations.”
But while senior leaders exhausted their talking points on those topics this year, next year could be the year we start to see what all the hullabaloo was all about.
Here are the 2022 storylines we at Breaking Defense are watching for the Army next year.
[This article is one of many in a series in which Breaking Defense reporters look back on the most significant (and entertaining) news stories of 2021 and look forward to what 2022 may hold.]
It’s All About The Money
If 2021 was a year that Army leaders warned of deep cuts hurting priority programs, 2022 could be the year the service starts to see those impacts.
At a conference in September, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said the service will “have to look really carefully” at its 31+4 modernization programs as the service develops its fiscal 2023 budget request, which will likely come out early next year.
“There are definitely, I think, going to be more tough choices ahead. But we’re also looking, you know, we’re trying to find savings wherever we responsibly can and also try to be innovative in terms of how we’re managing the many demands on our budget,” Wormuth said at the Defense News conference.
Furthermore, Wormuth revealed in November that the service started an analysis exploring the “fundamental questions” of the Army — how it fights, where it fight, what capabilities it needs to fight, including deep evaluation of its 31+4 modernization priority programs.
Leaders warned this year that significant budget cuts could harm the Army’s broad modernization programs — ranging from hypersonic weapons to augmented reality goggles. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville highlighted in November that 24 of the Army’s 35 modernization programs will be in prototyping in fiscal 2023. Budget cuts risk slowing progress on those programs already in prototyping, while funding slashes also threaten longer term modernization projects — like future vertical lift programs or next generation combat vehicles — that don’t field to soldiers until close to the end of the decade.
Networking With Allies
Another story to watch in 2022 is that Army’s path toward the its annual sensor to shooter exercise called Project Convergence. Project Convergence is the Army’s contribution to Joint All-Domain Command and Control, but McConville loves to add an additional “C” to the front of the acronym, Combined Joint All-Domain Command and Control, to emphasis the Army fights as a combined force with allies and partners.
To do that, the Army’s systems must also connect with allies’ systems. So next year, Project Convergence will include allies and partners, likely starting with Five Eye nations, as it aims to develop networked systems that not only integrate into the joint force but also with allied systems.
After 2022 highlighted challenges with integrating situational awareness platforms within the joint force and bandwidth constraints, it will be interesting to see what comes out of the Army’s adventure in the Yuma desert with allies next year.
The Future Of War-Fighting
The Army has spoken of multi-domain operations in competition and conflict with China or Russia for several years. But next summer, the service’s revised foundational document — Field Manual 3-0 — should be release to reflect multi-domain operations.
In my colleague Colin Clark’s preview last summer, the new field manual will likely formally recognize in service doctrine that the Army isn’t operating in “peace,” but rather in constant “competition” with peers in Russia and China.
The document will likely also contain changes to the service’s formations at the corps and division level to make the service more effective in the multi-domain fight.
High-Dollar Vehicle Competition
The Army plans to award a new contract for its Joint Light Tactical Vehicle program in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2022, potentially worth $6.5 billion.
Incumbent JLTV manufacturer Oshkosh Defense has built 14,000 JLTV’s so far and recently was awarded another task order for 1,600 more vehicles. The contest is one that GM Defense, recently re-established by its parent company and looking to rack up wins, has on its target list. Oshkosh believes it has a good chance of winning given the sheer amount of JLTVs its made so far.
The contract winner will deliver about 17,000 JLTVs and 10,000 trailers. The final RFP is scheduled to come out in late January.
For the Army, looming budgets and multi-domain everything: 2022 Preview – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Andrew Eversden for breakingdefense.com