For now and moving forward, fighting a multidomain war must be the focus for the US military, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said at the Association of the U.S. Army?s annual meeting in Washington DC, on October 6, 2016.
The US military has benefited supreme dominance since the Cold war but it appears those days are over. Such dominance was demonstrated by operations in Iraq, Desert Storm, as well as in Afghanistan.
?During this period, we had generally unimpeded freedom of action and access on land, in the air and on the sea,? he said.
But that era is ending, the deputy secretary informed the audience. Near-peer competitors such as Russia and China, and smaller foes such as Iran and North Korea, are modernizing their forces. They are developing the precision-guided strike power needed to fight a major conventional war, he said, and they are developing capabilities that could erode the US?s military superiority.
?Addressing the challenge is, in my view, one of the most — if not the most — important challenges facing the Department of Defense,? Work said, noting DoD must remain in the forefront of operational and tactical excellence. This means, he said, that the U.S. military must change the way it plans, innovates, invests and fights.
Technology plays a part, Work said, ?but wars are fought by humans, and not technologies.? This means that while new technology is necessary, how it is used tactically and operationally is far more important than the mere possession of it, he explained.
Work said the U.S. military is now facing an inflection point. Today, most U.S. combat power is located in the United States, he said, noting that potential adversaries are establishing rough parity in terms of precision-strike and command-and-control systems. Also, today?s US military is facing constrained resources, Work said. Added to this are potential enemy advances in the electromagnetic world and in cyberspace, he said.
?The character of war is changing once again,? Work said. ?This is a big strategic issue, because it threatens our ability to project power across the oceans, which is the very foundation of our conventional deterrent.?
Work mentioned that he does not believe a war with Russia is a threat. ?But they are a pacing competitor that tells us where we need to go to make sure that we have operational and tactical superiority,? the deputy secretary said.
Russia has demonstrated its multidomain tactics, he said, demonstrating its ability to command and control attacks from land, sea and air. The Russians, he added, have developed networks capable of integrating surveillance intelligence.