gen. bill hix

Special Operations night Afghanistan

ARLINGTON: “We have, in my view, exquisite capabilities to kill people,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Cleveland. “We need exquisite capabilities to manipulate them.” Psychological subtlety and the US military don’t always go hand-in-hand. Worldwide, we’ve become better known for drone strikes and Special Operations raids to kill High Value Targets. But that wasn’t enough for the last 13… Keep reading →

Army soldiers training at Fort Lewis

WASHINGTON: There are three things you need to know about the administration’s new budget plan and what it means for the Army. Most importantly, the fact the Army will be its smallest since before World War II is not one of them. In the dystopian mirror universe that is Washington under sequestration, being cut by 40,000… Keep reading →

Northrop Grumman's MADDS armed robot (based on an earlier unarmed 'bot called CaMEL) captured in the act of firing.

More robots, fewer people. That’s where the US military is headed in the future. But what kind of robots? Army Gen. Robert Cone, four-star commander of the powerful Training and Doctrine Command (aka TRADOC), said that the service is studying how robots could help replace 25 percent of the soldiers in each of its 4,000-strong combat brigades. That’s because the… Keep reading →

An A-10 "Warthog" firing its infamous 30 mm gun.

WASHINGTON: The A-10 Warthog is ugly, tough, lethal, and fairly flexible. Its famous 30mm gun can destroy tanks or other armored vehicles with remarkable efficiency, not to mention enemy troops. Its titanium tub of a cockpit protects the plane’s pilot from most ground fire. Its pilots are trained to fly low and slow and to… Keep reading →


NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY: It just might be iPhone time for the world’s most powerful army,. As defense budgets shrink and commercial networks grow, top brass from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on down are questioning the service’s current plan to keep developing custom-built, military-specific, and extremely expensive communications networks. If groups like al-Qaeda,… Keep reading →

An Army airborne exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.

PORTSMOUTH, VA: This is a Navy town, just minutes from the massive Atlantic Fleet base at Norfolk. But when Navy and Marine Corps leaders convened here yesterday for their annual conference on expeditionary warfare, traditionally a Navy-Marine affair, they reached out to the other services in unprecedented ways. Message No. 1: After 12 years of… Keep reading →

Army patrol Baghdad 2007

FORT BELVOIR: The intellectual ice is beginning to break. You could see it at the Fort Belvoir Officers’ Club on Tuesday afternoon, where the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) hosted a three-day, tri-service conference on “Strategic Landpower.” The US Army is wrestling with how to stay relevant once large-scale counterinsurgency in Afghanistan comes to… Keep reading →

NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY, WASHINGTON, DC: Ten years to the day after the US invaded Iraq with shock, awe and too few ground troops, the Army is anxious never to repeat the errors of the past. Yet as policymakers not only cut the defense budget — the Army’s portion most of all — but also emphasize investing in air, sea, and increasingly cyber power at the expense of troops on land, there’s an understandable and uneasy sense of deja vu.

It’s not that the much-hyped, high-tech “transformation” of the Donald Rumsfeld era was entirely bad, said Gen. Robert Cone, chief of the Army’s intellectual priesthood, the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), in a roundtable with reporters this afternoon. Transformation, aka the “revolution in military affairs,” started with an appreciation of the very real advances in information technology, and today, “the power of the network is tremendous,” Cone said. “We can push information down to lower echelons [so] a battalion commander gets what a division commander used to have, and soon a company commander will.” Keep reading →

America’s Army has developed a bit of a split personality of late. On the one hand, the top brass has very publicly embraced the administration’s January 2012 strategic guidance that emphasizes “innovative, low-cost, and small-footprint approaches” and “building partner capacity” in lieu of large ground force deployments. Leaders from Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno on down talk up the Army’s capabilities in cyberspace, missile defense, seaborne operations, and small advisor teams.

At the same time, the service’s biggest new weapons program remains the controversial Ground Combat Vehicle, an estimated $34 billion program to build what could be 70-ton-plus behemoths optimized for all-out land war. “Low-cost” and “small-footprint” it ain’t. (“Innovative” it may be; read on). And GCV is just the tip of the armored iceberg. Keep reading →

ARMY WAR COLLEGE: For the last decade, the Army has emphasized “boots on the ground.” Large numbers of foot troops slogged through valley and village, field and town, to safeguard civilians and hunt insurgents. Now, as the largest service looks beyond Afghanistan, a classified wargame about a hypothetical Korean conflict shined a spotlight on high-speed, long-range assets such as air defense missiles, guided artillery, and the Army’s own fleet of boats.

“When you think about landing craft, like Saving Private Ryan, most of those reside in the Army, actually,” Maj. Gen. Bill Hix, director of concept development at the Army Capabilities Integration Center, said in a conversation with reporters here. Keep reading →

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