WASHINGTON — Ever should a near-peer adversary attempt to encroach on territories in the Indo-Pacific, the Army will be prepared to act, the head of Army Futures Command told lawmakers Tuesday.
The Army hopes to achieve deterrence against looming threats through capabilities positioned in theater such as long-range precision fires, said Gen. John M. Murray during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The service has extended the reach of its Precision Strike Missile, a surface-to-surface all weather projectile fired from the M270A1 Multiple Launch Rocket and the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket systems, setting a record of almost 250 miles, or 400 kilometers.
This fall the Army is slated to fire the weapon from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, where it will be aimed at both land and sea-based targets. The Army also plans to widen its range to beyond 620 miles, or 1,000 kilometers, in fiscal year 2022, Murray said.
Additionally the Army’s Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA, can now fire at a range of over 40 miles, or 70 kilometers, and could help prevent an adversary from attempting a fait accompli, a term used to describe an adversary’s invasion or takeover of a small territory faster than an opponent can respond. The military’s largest branch remains on track to field its first ERCA battalion by fiscal year 2023.
“There's two responses to the fait accompli: you can either prevent it through deterrence, because the quickest way to get from point A to point B is to already be at point B. Or then that fait accompli is completed, then you're facing potentially long, protracted efforts to reverse their effort,” Murray said. “Our preference is deterrence.”
Murray said presenting an array of problems for adversaries can prevent the enemy from focusing on a single threat. He believes that the Army can give the joint force added advantages in addition to the threats presented by the Air Force and Marine Corps.
“I believe [in] multiple dilemmas … the more angles you can come at an opponent from,” Murray said. “And the terrain does offer you an advantage in terms of places to hide, and places to maneuver that the sea and air don't necessarily give you.”
The Army has been developing the Common-Hypersonic Glide Body with the Navy, Air Force and Missile Defense Agency as part of its Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon to enable the C-HGB to be launched from ground missile launchers.
The Multi-Domain Operations concept, the Army’s contribution to the joint force, will take an increasingly crucial role in supporting the joint force. The AFC commander said the Army’s reorganization of its forces, such as through multi-domain task forces, will create those multiple dilemmas for commanders.
The Army’s 2022 budget request reflects support of its ongoing efforts to support the joint force with $11.3 billion allocated toward the six modernization priorities, Murray said.
As U.S. forces look to solidify its position in the Indo-Pacific, bolstering the joint force has grown critical to maintaining overmatch and deterring threats in the region, such as China and Russia, he added.
“The Army's in the midst of a transformational change. This change is necessary to maintain our global and competitive edge to deter conflict, and if called upon to fight and win as part of the joint force,” he said. “The Army is transforming how we fight, what we fight with, how we organize and how we do business, and more importantly, who we are. Project Convergence, the Army's campaign of learning and experimentation, is informing all aspects of that transformation.”
While lawmakers expressed concern over the Army’s reorganization of its budget, Army leaders reiterated their support toward critical programs such as fully fielding AH-64E Apache helicopters for the Army National Guard by 2025.
“The bottom line is we are absolutely committed to staying on track to completely fielding [AH-64Es]” said Lt. Gen. Erik Peterson, deputy chief of staff, G-8. “We are committed and we are resourced to do so. Currently the plan is to be fully fielded with AH-64Es by 2025, with fielding to begin in the next couple of years. The active component will retain two D-model-equipped units with the Guard to be fully resourced with their full battalions and the most modern models. We are not diverting from that.”
In December, the Army set the foundation for joint participation in Project Convergence with the formation of a joint board of directors at the three-star level from all five military branches. The Army primarily participated in the first iteration of the series of exercises, designed to accelerate joint, multi-domain operations.
“What we're trying to do is come together as services and begin to inform not only the concept of [Joint All-Domain Command and Control], but the concept of joint warfighting from the bottom up,” Murray said. “So, the services working together, meeting someplace in the middle … we believe is the best way to come up with a viable joint warfighting concept.”