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Milley: Nature of Ground Warfare Will Change

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U.S. Army
Monday, June 27, 2016

The basic nature of ground warfare is on the brink of changes so fundamental that they will rival the shift from horses to mechanized vehicles or the introduction of the tank, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley believes. But because no one knows what form this next wave of changes will take, planning is a little problematic, he said.

“I just know we’re there, on the leading edge of it,” Milley said during a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based, bipartisan nonprofit organization involved in public policy research. “I think we’ve got a few years to figure it out, probably less than 10. But I think that by 2025, armies—not only the American Army, but armies around the world—will be fundamentally and substantively different.”

Some leading-edge aspects of technological changes that are likely coming can already be gleaned in robotics as well as alternatives to fossil fuels and gunpowder-based weapons propellants, Milley said. But at this point, the potential military applications of such technologies can be more easily seen in the air and maritime domains. Milley said the question that preoccupies him is, “What will be the military application of these technologies for ground warfare?”

With that in mind, Milley has launched what he called “a very comprehensive project” with think tanks, scientists, intelligence experts, innovators and his own staff to “try to figure out what the future holds” so that the Army can best position itself. Specifically, Milley is seeking forecasts and analyses of what the world may look like economically, politically and militarily between 2025 and 2050, because “that’s probably the area that I could have some influence on as Army chief of staff.”