The Army launched its Army Installations Strategy in mid-December, setting the course for installation decisions on policies, planning, priorities, programs and resources for the next 15-plus years. The strategy describes how the Army will transform installations by 2035 into multidomain operations-ready platforms that protect, support and enable the Total Army.
The Army Installations Strategy (AIS) is the strategic road map for “smart” and modernized installation capabilities: supporting multidomain operations, enhancing operational capacity and improving delivery of services and infrastructure to soldiers, families and civilians. The strategy endorses a new warfighter’s mindset from which to view installations and their capabilities.
Tied to the Fight
In multidomain operations, installations are part of the battlespace, providing critical capabilities while operating in a persistently contested environment. The Army installation operations enterprise will begin to transform the ingrained Army culture from installation management of facilities and infrastructure into a dynamic installation operations focus, tied more closely to the multidomain operations fight.
The AIS end state is: modern, resilient, sustainable installations, enhancing strategic readiness in a contested multidomain operations battlespace, while providing quality facilities, services and support to soldiers, families and civilians.
This end state supports the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which calls upon DoD to transition “from large, centralized, unhardened infrastructure to [basing solutions that are] smaller, dispersed, resilient, adaptive [with] active and passive defenses.” At end state, the Army envisions each installation will be both a “platform” of mission-specific capabilities, as well as an active node within a broader “constellation” of connected installations connected across the enterprise.
To achieve this, each future installation will employ a common operating picture of its operational environment to guide operating decisions and resource allocations. The common operating picture will fuse secure data and communications from sensors and “smart” infrastructure, which, when coupled with active and passive defense systems and resilient power and water networks, will provide installations with the capability to operate within a contested homeland.
The constellation of installations will connect across the Army through secure communications, allowing the constellation to form and re-form, quickly shifting mission and focus between installations based on need and local conditions, creating adaptability and resilience across the installation enterprise. The shared enterprise view of the constellation will permit distributed training over wide areas and the ability to combine “live” and virtual, augmented and/or synthetic training.
The AIS aligns with the Army Strategy and fully supports the Army People and Modernization strategies. People are the Army’s first priority; quality-of-life initiatives are critical to sustain the health of the force. The AIS seeks to support the People Strategy by attracting, retaining and enabling people through quality, functional facilities, modern services and safe operations.
The Army Modernization Strategy states: “Installations must modernize at pace with the rest of the Army.” Recognizing installations are the platforms from which the Army builds culture, trains and projects power, every mission starts on, receives support from and concludes on an installation.
Multidomain operations-ready installation platforms will support and enable the Total Army to achieve its potential to compete, deter and win in an increasingly complex security environment.
Now Is the Time
The AIS emphasizes that the Army must think differently about the homeland and specifically about its installations. The operational environment has changed.
Three factors affect the way installations must adapt to ensure resilient infrastructure and to deliver critical capabilities in a dynamic and changing world:
1. Primarily based in the continental U.S., the Army must assure its mobilization and deployment missions. The Multi-Domain Operations warfighting concept places installations squarely in the battlespace of the strategic support area. A complete capabilities-based assessment to identify critical capabilities, gaps and potential solutions, using the U.S. Training and Doctrine Command’s model of doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, facilities and policy, will identify how installations within multidomain operations must perform, which capabilities are critical, where gaps exist and potential solutions.
The assessment must take into account the unique characteristics of differing types of installations, from the organic industrial base, to training installations and power-projection platforms, to installations supporting combat formations, to Guard and Reserve armories, to research and development sites. To be ready by 2035, the Army must assess and prioritize installation capabilities now, and do it within the context of the new battlefield framework and a ready and modernized Army.
2. Threats have changed. The 2018 National Defense Strategy recognizes that “the homeland is no longer a sanctuary.” Adversaries will likely use advanced surveillance and reconnaissance techniques, cyber or space infiltration, and disruption of communications networks. They also can foster misinformation campaigns and execute physical attacks of varying intensity on energy and water provision sources, people and critical infrastructure. These tactics can impede operations, disrupting both military and private-sector organizations, services and communities. Protection planning and execution to identify, prepare for and thwart or mitigate these attacks will ensure installations can perform in the dynamic battlespace.
In addition to adversarial threats, changes in the natural environment increasingly affect both our landscape and way of life, adding risk to Army missions. Extreme weather events, environmental degradation and pandemics also prompt the Army to reevaluate the resilience of critical infrastructure and Army systems, and to enhance environmental protection capabilities and modernize systems and processes accordingly.
3. Technology developments will provide both an advantage and an opportunity for adversaries to exploit system vulnerabilities. Conversely, as soldiers in the volunteer Army increasingly come from “smart cities,” they have an expectation of expanded and rapid delivery of goods and services. Use of secure sensors and connected data feeds on installations to create the installation common operating picture will free the garrison commander and their staff from time-intensive physical checks and aggregation of condition reports.
The common operating picture also will support informed recommendations on installation utilities usage, facility occupation, repair prioritization, road and weather conditions and other updates, automatically. Artificial intelligence will recommend operational efficiencies and prioritization and share critical information more effectively. The AIS states: “Opportunities that leverage technology through creation of data-informed smart installations will allow the Army to pivot from an industrial age paradigm, characterized by rigidity and purpose-built specialization, to a data-rich, reconfigurable, and technology-enhanced information-age construct.”
Modern and Resilient
Divided into four lines of effort, each with an associated strategic outcome and focus areas, the AIS stimulates both better understanding of the changing strategic environment and the need to employ innovative and creative problem-solving to modernize and harden the resilience of facilities and services in support of the Total Army.
The strategy relies on incorporating data analytics and public-public and public-private partnerships to achieve desired outcomes in each line of effort. The common operating picture will use data analytics and artificial intelligence software to distill data feeds and reports into actionable, prioritized information and recommendations.
Partnerships with industry, local governments and service providers will enhance the resilience and effectiveness of both installations and their surrounding communities through sharing of best practices and realization of efficiencies. The AIS supports piloting of new technologies and partnerships with industry in key areas of installation support, resilience and protection.
The Army’s deputy chief of staff for installations is working with Army installation enterprise stakeholders to develop an implementation plan for the AIS. This Armywide effort involves Army headquarters staff, the U.S. Army Materiel Command (the principal command responsible for execution of the strategy), along with the U.S. Army Reserve, the Army National Guard and other commands and organizations responsible for policy, standards, capabilities assessments, resourcing and program execution at all echelons.
The deputy chief of staff for installations facilitates an operational planning team to integrate key objectives, metrics, timelines, actions and outcomes from both ongoing and emerging efforts identified as important to the success of implementing the strategy.
The governing body for any resourcing decisions required to execute tasks in the implementation plan will flow through the co-chairs of the applicable program evaluation group that validates the Army’s five-year resourcing program or program objective memorandum.
Although the majority of requirements will reside in the installations program evaluation group, requirements outside of installation programs will be coordinated across other program evaluation groups in other Army forums. The assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and the environment and the commander of Materiel Command co-chair the installations program evaluation group. They will champion AIS resourcing decisions.
The installations program evaluation group co-chairs, with the support of Army senior leaders, have already begun to shape the quality-of-life infrastructure landscape as part of the Army’s People First priority and the data-informed Facility Investment Plan developed by Materiel Command. Many installations will see improvements within the next two to eight years in new or renovated child development centers, barracks, physical fitness centers and housing.
While new facilities and infrastructure take time to prioritize, program and resource, restoration and modernization is occurring all the time. Many installations will see upgrades and renovations to make existing facilities more adaptive to modern systems and technologies as the Army modernizes and fields new equipment and formations.
Select training exercises will include the installation staff and systems to test resilience of the networks, infrastructure and energy grid when faced with disruptions. A fifth-generation network pillar, already in the implementation stages, will enable faster connectivity and fielding of the common operating picture and other communications and sensor connections.
Priority installations in the near term will receive the 5G network upgrades, with a fielding plan adopted to propagate this advanced capability across the Army.
As the installation operations enterprise and Armywide stakeholders work through implementation planning, the AIS provides the long-term azimuth and guide to action. The AIS implementation plan will outline the key tasks and metrics to further frame priorities, objectives and timelines, while Materiel Command and key installation stakeholders ensure installations are multidomain operations-ready.
All work in concert to support the Army mission to deploy, fight and win the nation’s wars.
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J.E. “Jack” Surash has been the senior official performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment) since Jan. 20. Previously, he was acting deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Energy and Sustainability), and before that, he was deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and project management in the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. He has a master’s degree in mechanical engineering (energy management) from Texas A&M University.
Col. Shelley Richardson, U.S. Army retired, is the acting deputy assistant secretary of the Army for strategic integration and is the principal coordinator of the Army Installations Strategy. Previously, she was president, Army Logistics University; and commander, AAFES-Europe and Southwest Asia. She has a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Marine Corps War College and a master’s in industrial engineering from the University of Minnesota.