Giving the keynote address on the first day of Virtual Global Force 2021 on 16 March, Gen James McConville, Chief of Staff of the US Army, may have silenced some critics of his service’s efforts to develop and sharpen their capabilities in the Arctic. Far from a 2021-era US military service in search of another mission, McConville initially recalled the Army continues to support the Arctic mission. “We have a two brigade-plus presence in Alaska right now. And beyond this presence, we can envision a multi-domain task force maybe there, or operating in that area, giving us the capability if we need to provide an anti-access, anti-denial capability.” He further asserted that soldiers stationed in the region are masters of that domain. To point, he called attention to training readiness, noting the Army has two options: completing training in and around Alaska, or taking them to the Fort Polk, LA Combat Training Center. “Would we be better off having a combat training center where they train in the harshest conditions they can have? We’re putting together those answers together as we speak.”
In an extremely well-choreographed effort to supplement DoD’s Arctic Strategy, which was issued in June 2019, the Army on 16 March released the unclassified version of its strategy https://api.army.mil/e2/c/downloads/ 2021/03/15/9944046e/regaining-arctic-dominance-us-army-in-the-arctic-19-january-2021-unclassified.pdf, to lay out how the service will generate, train, organise and equip its forces, and complete similar requirements.
The Army’s senior uniformed leader twice mentioned in his prepared remarks the service’s multi-domain operations task forces – two for the Indo-Pacific region, one for Europe. Gen McConville took the opportunity to provide some detail on these forces. “What we want to do is provide the combatant commanders with options. Both combatant commanders are interested in having a multi-domain task force capability. The reason is, it is helpful for them in competition below the level of armed conflict,” he said, and continued by pointing out the multi-domain task force will provide long-range precision effects, from intelligence, operations, cyber, electronic warfare and space. The Army chief emphasised the task forces will also provide deterrence, and concluded they will eventually provide long-range precision fires and other capabilities, whether it is hypersonics, or a mid-range capability to sink ships. “These are some of the capabilities the combatant commanders are asking us for.”
Marty Kauchak reporting for MON from New Orleans