The Army chief of staff wants to see an industry push on critical cyber and hypersonics technologies to surpass near-peer adversaries race toward emerging capabilities he described as “changing the character of war.”

Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff, told attendees at a Thursday event on national security that the push towards establishing a Futures Command and an embrace of new acquisition strategies to better facilitate research and development will be necessary to meet the Army’s modernization priorities.

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army, addresses the National Guard Association of the United States 138th General Conference, Baltimore, Md., Sept. 10, 2016. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jim Greenhill)
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff of the Army

“Today, we are living right now in the midst of a changing character of war. It’s for a variety of reasons, one of which is technology. We’ve mentioned cyber and hypersonics. And there’s others, like artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, bioengineering,” Milley said at the Capitol Hill National Security Forum. “We want to have overmatch. Clear, unambiguous overmatch. We have that today, and we want to make sure we sustain that over time.”

Milley reiterated that the last 17 years in the Middle East left the Army pushing modernization on the backburner, but officials are now looking to areas of emerging technologies for modernization that near-peer competitors have already explored.

“During this period, Russia and China put a lot of money into development and research into military modernization,” Milley said. “We realized we needed to restructure and modernize ourselves, otherwise we would lost the edge…the tactical, operational strategic edge relative to potential adversaries. We want to maintain dominance.”

Army officials are particularly interested in hypersonic missile technology that is capable of extending lethality, range and accuracy, according to Milley.

Both the Air Force (Defense Daily, April 18) and Navy (Defense Daily, April 13) have already explored developing hypervelocity strike weapons.

“Hypervelocity is a significant technology that is advancing rapidly. It has the ability to defeat existing defensive systems,” Milley said.

Milley pointed to Army Futures Command as the critical piece to outmatching near-peer adversaries’ rapid development of emerging technologies. Officials are expected to select a location for the new command within the next few weeks, according to Milley.

“Hopefully we’ll have that decided by the end of the month, maybe by the beginning of July. Right now, Undersecretary [of the Army Ryan] McCarthy is out there looking at various cities. So he’s out looking around and he’s going to come back and report into Secretary [of the Army Mark] Esper and myself,” Milley told Defense Daily.

The list of cities has been narrowed down to five finalists, Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Raleigh (Defense Daily, June 11).

Futures Command will be responsible for overseeing the Army’s six modernization priorities: long-range precision fires, next-generation combat vehicle, future vertical lift, improving the tactical network, air & missile defense capabilities, and soldier lethality.