The 30 Year Plan: Planting the seeds for the U.S. Army’s future and trying to predict the future are two sides of the same coin

By Steve Stark


FORT BELVOIR, Va. – The theme of newest edition of Army AL&T magazine looks 30 years in the future to develop a plan—albeit one that will have to be broken, changed and modified to meet the operational needs of the future—in the April-June issue, available online now.

“As we draw down forces from Afghanistan, today is the best time to plant seeds for the army of the future,” writes the Hon. Heidi Shyu, the Army acquisition executive and assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

A period of budget austerity may not seem like the best of times—more like the worst—to plant those seeds. But, as Shyu writes, it was during one such historical moment of budget austerity, at the end of the Vietnam conflict, that saw the initial investments in the M1 Abrams tank, the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter and the Patriot surface-to-air missile system.

There are many ways to plant those seeds. Program Executive Office (PEO) Missiles and Space gathers stakeholders—centers of excellence, industry partners and others—to map the next 30 years in “Roadmaps to the Future.” In “Facilitize This,” the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance System blazes a new path in sustainment and support capabilities by developing organic, government, long-term support facilities. It’s a difficult process that will reap significant rewards.

The costs of sustaining Army aviation are approaching the unsustainable. That’s why the Army aviation community is looking to take an enterprise approach to sustainment to curb life-cycle costs in the future in ” ‘Enterprising’ Sustainment.”

The old adage has it that an Army marches on its stomach—that may be true, but this Army fights on its networks. As the era of the connected Soldier evolves, it’s crucial that the network of the future make it easier for soldiers to train, plan and operate. Read about the modernized tactical network in “Simplify, Simplify.” In “Passing the iPhone Test,” PEO Command, Control and Communications – Tactical looks at what it will take to put the “common” in Common Operating Environment.

Science and technology (S&T) play an enormous role in the military of today and certainly that role will only grow in the future. Exactly where to invest and how to plan can sometimes be a game. Read about one such game, SciTech Recon 2030, that explores S&T trends that could shape future operations in “Evolving Innovation.” Read about another, Unified Quest, in our fascinating interview with the smart people at the Army Capability Integration Center, which supports the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command in designing developing and integrating force capability requirements for the Army in the future. We were surprised to learn just how they help translate the ifs, ands, buts and whethers of 30 years out into planning that results in the acquisition, logistics and technology of tomorrow.

Find out what photon entanglement and the human-on-chip have to do with the Army’s future in “Rebalancing Research.” And for an entirely different perspective on research, read about how the Military Entomology Research Program leveraged the Small Business Innovation Research program to minimize costs in developing vector pathogen detection. That enables the testing of bugs for disease in theater before Soldiers get sick. Find out how they did it in “Research Resource.”

Read it all and more on the new and vastly improved online version of Army AL&T magazine, or on our brand new apps, available for Android at Google Play and iOS through iTunes® or the App Store.


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