Inside the Army www.InsideDefense.com an exclusive weekly report on Army programs, procurement and policymaking Inside the Pentagon.
Vol. 33, No. 35, September 6, 2021
Army leaders discuss future force structure for artillery, air defense
Posted September 1, 2021
Air defense and field artillery units will expand and shift to higher echelons as both become more prominent within military strategy, Army officials said Aug. 31 at the service’s Fires Conference at Ft. Sill, OK. Field artillery battalions that are currently located within brigade combat teams will shift to division artillery units around fiscal year 2028, said Brig. Gen. Andrew Preston, field artillery commandant. This change will increase the role and size of division artillery, along with fielding of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery, Preston said. Division artillery units will also receive greater concentrations of rocket launchers and howitzers, although the exact size of the increases will depend on the division. “As we work to increase lethality and range at the tactical level, we will transition our active component 2x8 rocket battalions to 3x9, and our Army National Guard echelon above brigade [155 mm howitzer] battalions from 3x4 to 3x6,” he said. Eight Army National Guard division artilleries will be created by FY-28, Preston said. The first was stood up this year. New command-and-control structures above the division echelon will be necessary to coordinate all the fires, especially in large-scale operations, he said. “A corps-level operational fires command . . . is needed to synchronize joint fires with operational capability and command and control multiple artillery brigades,” Preston said. A theater-level fires command has been created in the Pacific, which will work with the multidomain task force and other units above the division echelon on targeting and fires, he said. The Army has said that divisions and higher echelons will be the focus of future large-scale operations, after making modular brigades the center of attention in recent decades. This is part of the larger shift to multidomain operations and competition with near-peer adversaries. Many of the force structure changes required for the focus on multidomain operations will come around 2030, the vice chief of staff of the Army told Inside Defense in July. The long-range fires and air defense units are likely to be expanded, especially at the division level. The structure of air defense systems will change in the next decade as well, as the branch adapts to new systems and new threats, Brig. Gen. Brian Gibson, the director of the air and missile defense cross-functional team, said Aug. 31 at the Fires Conference. New air defense systems, led by the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, will allow the sensors and effectors that were originally designed for different systems to communicate. New or more common threats, such as long-range cruise missiles and small unmanned aerial vehicles, will operate across the ranges of legacy systems. “We had better organize differently,” Gibson said. “I do not see battalions of individual weapon systems in our future.” Gibson spoke in response to a question from Lt. Gen. Dan Karbler, commanding general of Space and Missile Defense Command, on the best way to organize the force for the IBCS, which was approved for initial production in January. Retiring old systems, such as the Patriot and Stinger, will be a necessary part of the modernization effort, Gibson said. At a speech later in the day, Karbler said the future air defense battalion will likely have four batteries, and it will be built around the integration capabilities of the IBCS. “We have to take a very, very hard look at what the battalion’s construct is going to be,” Karbler said. “I would assert we need to get away from the traditional Patriot battery sense.” There will be batteries assigned to reconnaissance, sensors, effectors, and command and control within each IBCSequipped battalion, he said. Battalions with sensors and effectors from several different systems, rather than just a single system, such as the current Patriot battalions. -- Ethan Sterenfeld