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NEWS | May 23, 2023


By Jared Lieberher AUSA

Faced with one of the “most disruptive” periods in time, the Army must move now to deter aggression and transform for the future, the commanding general of Army Futures Command said.

“We have one United States Army. When the country says go, we’re going,” Gen. James Rainey said May 18 during a keynote presentation to close the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 LANPAC Symposium and Exposition in Honolulu.

Rainey said the Army’s modernization efforts are on track, but “we’ve got to get after this.”

While 2040 sounds “like forever,” new capabilities must be in the works now if they’re going to be fielded by then, he said. “In the next 12, 18 to 24 months, we all collectively need to be incredibly obsessed with a sense of urgency as we transform our Army,” Rainey said.

Gen. Charles Flynn, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific, agreed, as he thanked the allies and partners who attended and participated in LANPAC. “That is the greatest counterweight we have to any adversary, … the work of us as a team,” he said.

As threats and technology evolve, some things remain constant, Rainey said. To start, war remains a human endeavor, he said. “It’s a contest of wills between human beings. That is not changing,” he said.

So, even though the Army is part of a joint force, “land still matters,” Rainey said. “Land is decisive.”

Another constant is that technology rarely delivers on its promise, and as much as armies would like to plan for short wars, “with a few notable exceptions, they are usually not the case,” Rainey said. “Aspiring for short wars is great, but you need to be ready. If you’re going to start one, you need to finish it.”

To win, the U.S. Army’s “asymmetric advantage” is its people, Rainey said. “A lot of other countries, our enemies, want to steal our secrets,” he said. “What they should want to steal is our noncommissioned officer corps. The quality of people we put into our formations … nobody can do that.”

The Army also must have a “ruthless” approach to training, Rainey said. “It’s a lot easier to go an [after-action review] and talk about why your [Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System] went off than go to a memorial service,” he said.

As it lays the foundation for deterrence and builds on its partnerships with allies in the Indo-Pacific and around the world, Rainey said the Army must look to win the “pre-conflict conflict.”

“We need to be ready to fight anybody, but this is a war nobody wants to have,” he said. “Nobody’s going to win a war between nuclear equipped superpowers. Somebody will prevail—I’m confident it’ll be us—but the cost will be horrific and change our way of life fundamentally.”

To deter conflict, “leaders have to live in the future,” Flynn said. “We’re present here today in 2023, but intellectually, we have to make sure our intellectual capacity is on the future because we’re accountable for that future.”

The decisions made today directly impact the “young soldiers … that are in our formations today,” Flynn said. “They are going to either benefit or suffer as a result of the decisions, the approaches and the teamwork and the efforts we put into our actions today,” he said.

Senior leaders and older people make decisions to go to war, but it’s the youth who fight it, Flynn added. “This is very serious business, and we must … focus ourselves and make sure we all have a sense of urgency to not have that happen,” Flynn said. “The time is right now for land power out here.”