The Army's contribution to joint operations is "the ability to conduct prompt and sustained operations on land throughout the entire spectrum of crisis." Army Vision 2010 also lays out a vision between the Army's ongoing and relatively near term (FY 04 and sooner) Force XXI implementation process, and the longer-term vision of the Army After Next, which looks at the future geostrategic environment (i.e., 30 years out). In the future, the Army plans to focus the execution of its responsibilities through "a deliberate set of patterns of operations": project the force, protect the force, shape the battlespace, conduct decisive operations, sustain the force, and gain information dominance. (The latter is fundamental to the five other patterns, as well as to the operational concepts of Joint Vision 2010.)
Both the Force XXI and the Army After Next processes are identifying new concepts of land warfare that have implications for the Army's organization, structure, operations, support, and materiel. Force XXI's premise is that greater situational awareness, obtained by leveraging information technology, particularly from the commercial sector, on current platforms (Abrams tanks, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, and Apache helicopters) will provide friendly commanders with greater "mental agility" and thus increase the lethality, survivability, and operations tempo of their forces.
The Army's Experimental Force, the 4th Infantry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas, is the vehicle for testing these innovations. The Experimental Force is a heavy force used to identify and evaluate, through a series of Army advanced warfighting experiments, new operational concepts, organizational designs, doctrine, and tactics that take advantage of "digitization" technologies and the capabilities they offer. The Experimental Force also will examine flexible, highly tailorable organizations--from individuals to small units to echelons above corps--to meet the diverse needs of future operations.
At the same time, the premise of the more futuristic Army After Next is that greatly increased strategic and tactical mobility--i.e., physical agility--and all-encompassing "knowledge" of the battlespace--i.e., mental agility--will be the dominant factors in wars of the first quarter of the next century. As a result the Army is examining "leap ahead" technologies that will result in much lighter, smaller, more durable equipment that will enhance deployability and reduce the sustainability burden, while generating the lethality necessary for decisive operations.
Through an annual cycle of wargames, workshops, and conferences, the Army After Next strives to lay the research foundation necessary for assessing the effects of increased mobility, lethality, and maneuverability, and to ensure that land power remains a strategically decisive element of warfighting into the 21st century. The largest part of the effort is focused on examining the impact of technologies and system concepts for both air and land vehicles to provide significantly increased strategic and tactical mobility. From a command and control perspective, the goal will be to greatly facilitate the decision-making process for protecting, projecting, and employing the force. Use will be made of advanced, highly mobile, and easy-to-use sensors; communications; and processors that collect and distribute data throughout the battlespace, develop information, and create the knowledge to enable and ensure effective freedom of maneuver and dominant lethality. The innovations selected during this process will be tested by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Polk, Louisiana.
(SOURCE: Department of the Army. 1996. Army Vision 2010, Department of the Army,