Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Prophecy of Warfare: Theme Ten

This is a really good article on planning for future wars by a talented retired Army major general.

Let me review, at his challenge, the ten themes Scales set forth about future war in 1999. Mind you, it speaks well of him to predict the future and then stand by them when the future approaches. As he notes, predictions about future war shouldn't be about getting the future right, it is about not getting it too wrong to win.

I'll do them one at a time in separate posts. This is the tenth and final post. Let me preface this effort with my warning from my 2002 Military Review article (starting on p. 28) about the projected FCS that was the primary weapons system envisioned by those planning efforts:

Barring successfully fielding exotic technologies to make the FCS work, the Army must consider how it will defeat future heavy systems if fighting actual enemies and not merely suppressing disorder becomes its mission once again. The tentative assumptions of 2001 will change by 2025. When they do, the Army will rue its failure today to accept that the wonder tank will not be built.

The tenth theme from 1999 is:

10. Move Beyond Jointness to True Interdependence of Services
Combat functions such as operational maneuver and precision firepower — functions provided principally by one service yet vital to the warfighting effectiveness of another — should be removed from the constrictive rules of joint warfare and elevated to a new dimension of interdependent command and control.

That's an interesting theme. Is it possible to train senior staff to think about true joint command, with officers mastering all services the way senior service personnel are now expected to master all branches of their own service to employ that service to its full potential?

I don't know. I can't say I've ever addressed this.

The only aspect is that I've often said that when someone calls in fire support, they shouldn't care who provides it, and the fire support system should be able to determine if a 60mm mortar half a mile away, a plane flying high or low with precision bombs or streams of bullets, or a ballistic missile at sea is called for the effect needed. I noted that in the 2002 article:

Communications will allow the FCS to direct distant firepower if it does not use its own cannon. An FCS will identify a target, and the appropriate missile module, helicopter, aircraft, or artillery asset will destroy the target. The source of the warhead will not matter.

As to the joint command and control, I suspect that we'd have to allow either older senior "true purple" commanders or accelerate the career paths of promising service commanders to be "true purple" commanders who are fully capable of conceptualizing the contributions of all services and their assets into a single campaign and war plan.

And we wouldn't need many of these senior "true purple" commanders.

Do we risk older commanders who may be less flexible in thought? Do we augment such older commanders with drugs or gene editing to make them more youthful in mind and physical endurance despite age?

Wouldn't we want to extend the career of any officers reaching that "true purple" level of command abilities? So would "up or out" be set aside for them?

If we don't allow (and enable) older commanders, how would we accelerate the education and experience of selected officers (and enlisted for senior enlisted spots, too, I imagine) within the traditional time frame that is the path of service officers reaching the highest levels? Would a faster rate of "checking boxes" for promotion harm our officer corps rather than create "true purple" commanders?

And how do we identify the qualities of such an officer candidate early on to focus resources on preparing that officer for "true purple" command slots? What if we are wrong? Again, few will be needed at that level so how do we do it? Are we in Ender's Game territory? The Air Force is starting down that path, it seems.

An excellent theme question, however.

Theme nine is here.