Key point: The Pentagon is at a crossroads.
The U.S. Army is at a crossroads as the Pentagon is reorienting itself to fight a capable great power opponent after nearly two decades focused on counter-insurgency conflicts.
Russia poses a traditional land-power challenge for the U.S. Army with its large mechanized formations threatening the Baltics, as well as formidable long-range ballistic missiles, artillery and surface-to-air missiles.
By contrast, a hypothetical conflict with China would focus on control of the sea and airspace over the Pacific Ocean. To remain relevant, the Army would need to deploy long-range anti-ship-capable missiles and helicopters to remote islands, allied nations like Japan and South Korea and even onto the decks of U.S. Navy ships.
Almost all the Army’s major land warfare systems entered service in the 1980s or earlier. Five ambitious programs to replace aging armored vehicles, artillery and helicopters consumed $30 billion only to fail spectacularly.
Thus, in 2017 the Army formed eight cross-functional teams led by brigadier generals to rapidly cost-efficiently develop a new generation of hardware. These far-reaching modernization initiatives are collectively called the “the Big Six.”
1. Long-Range Precision Fire (Artillery)
The U.S. Army was famed for its lavish, rapid and accurate use of artillery support during World War II. However, in recent conflicts, the U.S. military has increasingly relied on air strikes using precision-weapons over artillery barrages.
But on-call air support would be far from given when facing a peer enemy possessing formidable air defenses. In fact, long-range missile and artillery strikes might be needed to destroy air defenses, “kicking in the door” for air power.