Gen John Murray, Commander, US Army Futures Command, adroitly managed the expectations of viewers of his keynote address to the AUSA Global Force virtual event on 18 March, by providing important context to a number of Army enterprise developments.

Murray first spoke of meeting challenges through the prism of non-traditional approaches. In the context of speed, for example, he noted that, beyond hypersonics, precision navigation and timing, and other capabilities, speed is about “the rate we’re able to make the very best – I didn’t say ‘perfect’ – decision faster than any potential opponent.” To that end, it is about bringing to bear AI, machine learning and other capabilities “to wean out processes to allow humans to do what humans do best – make those final decisions.” Beyond that, speed is also about how quickly capabilities can be placed in soldiers’ hands. The Army appears to be on a glide slope to achieving this paradigm shift. In one case, whereas the legacy ATACMS munition took 10 years to deliver from an initial idea, the new Precision Strike Missile will be delivered within five years from concept.

He continued to make a not-too-subtle shift in content from senior level discussions at earlier AUSAs. Perhaps leaning forward to reflect the relatively new Biden administration’s effort to strengthen partnerships and alliances, and not ‘go it alone’, Murray addressed the imperative of establishing forward presence and creating relationships with allies.

The tempo of discussion is increasing in many circles, within and without military circles, about the Army’s future role in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility and the interrelated issue of Army force structure – specifically, the next-generation combat vehicle (NGCV) and other ground platforms. Murray justified an Army role in the theatre and the service’s investment in NGCV and similar programmes through the lens of how one views a potential fight with China. While emphasizing Chief of Staff of the Army and other US leaders are quite clear about the need for coexistence, and that “nobody wants a fight with China,” he nonetheless sees the potential of a conflict with China to “become more global and less regional.” To that point, he added, China “would use everything they have in its arsenal, including a large mechanised force.”

Marty Kauchak Reporting for MON from New Orleans

Gen Murray emphasized the need to take non-traditional approaches to resolve challenges – often seemingly intractable – by considering radically different definitions and solutions. (Photo: US Army/Staff Sgt Christopher Hammond)

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