The Army is exploring major changes to its force structure to better prepare for future fights, according the director of the Army’s Futures and Concepts Center.
Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley delivered the remarks during a fireside chat with Army Undersecretary Ryan D. McCarthy at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, D.C. last week.
The Army’s shift to preparing for so-called multidomain operations — which include competition in the “gray zone” just short of armed conflict — is driving the change.
The new warfighting doctrine is a response to threats posed by Russia and China, which have both gone to school on U.S. capabilities, developing operating concepts and equipment that threaten the United States' long-standing capability overmatch.
“There’s going to be a fundamental change in the organizational structure to fight the way we’re describing,” Wesley said.
Part of that shift will be focused on higher organizations, which is a major change from the counterinsurgency operations that have dominated the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and were focused on brigade combat teams.
“Large-scale ground combat operations, particularly one in a future operating environment, is going to require echelons above brigade, all of which will solve unique and distinct problems that a BCT can’t solve by itself,” Wesley said.
He said the Army would build out divisions, corps and potentially even field armies to manage problems that would be created in such a fight. The Army will also likely need to make “trades” between active and reserve forces to create a “force posture that can rapidly transition if necessary.”
Wesley said the changes are expected in the next five years. He also spoke of the need to balance forces stationed overseas in Europe and elsewhere with those able to deploy on short notice.
“You have to have contact forces,” he said. “What we are working on is how to optimize what that balance is. You have to have headquarters and fires commands that can be a deterrent effect immediately.”