WASHINGTON — The Army has become a leader in new technology but must continue to modernize concepts and capabilities to sharpen its global competitive edge, the Army secretary told lawmakers Tuesday.
Prioritized efforts by the Army Futures Command, Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, and other Army organizations have put the service at the forefront of developing and fielding new technology to support the joint force, Christine E. Wormuth said before the House Armed Services Committee about the Army's fiscal year 2022 budget proposal.
To ensure the force stays on track, Army leaders plan to work in close coordination with lawmakers to set a deliberate, achievable path to deliver future capabilities.
"The Army's readiness gains and modernization procurement requirements must be prioritized to continue [moving forward]," she said.
To help move these priorities forward, senior leaders conducted internal reforms over the past four years that realigned over $35 billion within the Army budget to self-fund modernization priorities in support of joint-all domain operations, Wormuth said in her written testimony to lawmakers.
Wormuth explained several of these modernization efforts include counter-unmanned aircraft systems, directed energy, hypersonic weapons, and next-generation assured positioning, navigation and timing devices.
“We need to comprehensively modernize,” Wormuth said. “But equally important is our network portfolio area, for example, because again we have to be able to connect our sensors and shooters together. We have to be able to defend those systems and our forces from aerial and missile defense fires.”
While the Army has made significant progress over the past year, its ongoing transformation is the only way to guarantee success, she said, adding senior leaders will continue to make tough decisions to ensure the best use of resources to stay ahead of a near-peer or emerging threat.
"The Army has rebuilt a high level of readiness with the support of Congress, but that readiness level is fragile," Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville said before the Senate Armed Services Committee on June 15. "We must sustain that high level of readiness while continuing our most comprehensive transformation and modernization effort in over 40 years."
On Tuesday, McConville said that is “the only way we’ll maintain overmatch against near-peer competitors and would-be adversaries. This year we are turning our multi-domain operations concept into real doctrine. We're not only developing, but we're delivering on our six modernization priorities.”
Both senior leaders provided testimony to lawmakers during three congressional hearings this month.
Transformation efforts must support the joint warfighting concept and be dependent on the Joint All-Domain Command and Control concept, or JADC2, Wormuth said. Future conflict will be held across land, maritime, air, cyber, and space domains, and ground forces will be necessary to secure terrain and penetrate an enemy's defense, she said.
The Army is prepared to shift its MDO concept into doctrine later this year, McConville said.
"With the new doctrine, organizations, and equipment, the Army is offering multiple options to our combatant commanders and multiple dilemmas to our competitors and adversaries, and we are doing so alongside our sister services, allies, and partners," McConville said during the Senate hearing.
McConville said that speed, range, and convergence are all core attributes of the Army's 31+4 modernization efforts. Additionally, through the proper integration of joint, allied, and partner systems, the Army can ensure decision dominance across an all-domain battlefield.
"When we bring together all the Army systems into a joint system in the future … it gives us the decision dominance and overmatch we need to deter competitors and potential adversaries," McConville added. "I would argue that we get deterrence through strength, [and] that strength comes from a strong joint force working together."
People will remain the Army's strength, as senior leaders prioritize initiatives to build diverse and inclusive leadership and improve quality of life for personnel, Wormuth said.
McConville said close to a million Soldiers are currently serving across the active duty, National Guard, and Reserve components supporting missions across 140 different countries.
"Like my predecessors, I can assure you that the character, culture, and climate within our formations at every installation will reflect a continued focus on placing 'people first,'" Wormuth said.
Leaders continue to build cohesive teams through the "This Is My Squad" initiative to meet the needs of each Soldier at the lowest level, she said.
"The harmful behaviors of sexual assault and harassment, racism, and extremism cannot and will not be tolerated. We will purposefully work to stem the tide of suicides," Wormuth added.
With a focus on prevention and commander responsibility, the Army has already implemented changes to the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program, she said. Senior leaders are also looking to restructure the Army Criminal Investigation Command to further educate investigators on special victim's crimes.
"Our responsibility is to ensure every Soldier and civilian has the right leadership, policies, and resources to be safe and successful among their teams, so they can continue to be successful in our nation's defense," Wormuth added.
(Editor’s note: ARNEWS reporter Thomas Brading contributed to this report.)