Top Army modernization priorities are 'on track,' says Army Vice Chief of Staff

Warrior Maven Interview - Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Joseph Martin

“----A 1986 graduate of West Point, Martin deployed to Iraq five times including stints as a company commander during Operation Desert Storm, as a battalion and brigade commander during Iraqi Freedom and he commanded the famed 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. Martin also served as the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command during the pivotal Battle of Mosul, a major multi-national offensive that helped the Iraqi government retake control of the Iraqi city from ISIS forces----” From an Army Report --- MARTIN ARMY BIO HERE ---

Warrior & Martin -- Q&A

Warrior: There is a lot of discussion about the Army’s Top 6 Modernization priorities:...Long Range Precision Fires, Next Generation Combat Vehicles, Future Vertical Lift, Network, Air and Missile Defense, and Soldier Lethality…. How are they progressing and what sticks out in your mind?

Martin: All the modernization priorities are doing very well. We’re seeing the progress that we need to right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We need to continue to have consistent funding; without consistent funding, requirements can be requirements, but they’ll never turn into material that we develop. So, we’ll continue to work with Congress and everyone who is involved to make sure that we have consistent funding over time.

Warrior: Is there an example of the kind of new technology consistent Congressional funding can provide?

Martin: We are very excited about the progress we’ve made on the programs that we have anticipated we would have completed at this time. The Enhanced Night Vision Goggles B (ENVG-B), that was a great idea and… 2 years later, we actually fielded something to a brigade, 2nd Brigade of First Infantry Division. We will have other successes like that if we have consistent funding. We are on the verge of changing the momentum...right now, it’s an uphill fight--building requirements and having dialogues between material developers and requirements developers. We’re pushing the rock uphill. We get that over the top of the hill, these programs are going to take on a life of their own and we’re going to be very very successful.

Warrior: How is the number one priority progressing - Long-Range Precision Fires - as there is a program underway building prototypes and preparing for live fire?

Martin: We have many different experiments that are going on for long-range precision fires, but, in essence, I guess the tagline is this--”we want to make artillery great again.” The way we’re going to do that is we’re going to increase the capability of our cannons, we’re going to increase the capabilities of our rocket forces and we’re going to change the dynamics necessary to compete in the future on the multi-domain battlefield.

Image courtesy of US Army

Image courtesy of US Army (US Army photo)

From the Army Report

“---Martin also served as the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command during the pivotal Battle of Mosul, a major multi-national offensive that helped the Iraqi government retake control of the Iraqi city from ISIS forces.--”

************

Warrior: What are your thoughts on the current strategic shift to great power competition and all the discussion about Russian and Chinese threats?

Martin: There are many things that change. I go back, Kris, when you and I were younger, and the Army was coming out of the Vietnam era. And, during that time period, while we were focused on Vietnam, the Soviets were focused on modernizing equipment, changing their doctrine, changing their disposition...and, the next thing you knew, we looked at what we were doing in Europe and understood we had to change some things.

Warrior: How has this strategic perspective informed your current view of Army modernization?

Martin: So, a huge amount of energy went into, changing our doctrine and creating the Big 5 as all of us remember...things like the tank, the Bradley, the Apache, the Blackhawk helicopter...but, we also created the combat training centers, which changed the Army forever. You saw that fully expressed in Desert Storm and beyond that. We’ve got equipment platforms that were born in that era that are over 40-years-old now, and we’ve got to replace them, so while we’ve been busy focusing on the Middle East, our adversaries in China and Russia have been working on capabilities to deny our capabilities. So, what we’re doing is we’re modernizing the Army and changing our doctrine to multi-domain operations, and we’re taking a hard look at how we’re organized across the Army to make sure that we’re appropriately structured for, equipped with and trained to succeed and dominate in that environment.

Warrior: What are your thoughts on the future of heavy armor? When will we truly see a next-generation tank? What will it look like?

Martin: As we look at the future of the mechanized fleet, the armored fleet, what we want to do is we want to take a look at what’s the right platform or platforms to replace our Bradleys and our tanks. So, we’re looking at things like optionally-manned vehicles--think about a vehicle that could be manned or could be robotic and could be controlled from elsewhere, could operate autonomously or not autonomously. We’re looking at new mobile firepower capabilities, we’re looking at leveraging the technology that’s available in the metallurgical development field so that we can have the lightest vehicle possible, but also the most survival vehicle as possible.

Warrior: Will advances in AI, lightweight composites, long-range sensors and unmanned systems remove the need for some armor?

Martin: We’re also taking a hard look at the firepower these vehicles have to determine which is the optimal firepower for us to be able to counter and dominate our adversary’s capabilities. So, there’s going to be a need for a mechanized, or armored, vehicle in the future, it’s just what exactly that looks like. So, the next generation combat vehicle is focused principally on that. We’ve got a great team there. They’re looking at the requirements, they’re starting to work to prototype equipment in the future, and that’s going to allow us to arrive at the appropriate solution, just like we did with the Abrams tank back in the mid 70’s.

--- Kris Osborn of WARRIOR MAVEN (CLICK HERE) can be reached at krisosborn.ko@gmail.com