AUSA, Washington DC: Opening AUSA, the US Army’s annual (this year virtual) gathering held in Washington DC, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said that in 2020 not only had 178,000 soldiers been deployed around the world on a spectrum of commitments, but an additional 45,000 solders including those from the National Guard, Reserve and Corps of Engineers were allocated within the United States as part of the government’s response to COVID-19.

The Army’s medical community had also joined Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership aimed at researching and delivering vaccines and therapeutics through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. He also expansively recalled the Army’s difficult roll it has been asked to play during the civil unrest that has been a major feature in US cities over recent months.

McCarthy’s main message was that “the time is now” – with people being the number one priority, followed by readiness and modernisation. He spoke of “the need to counter rising negative trends.” it was time, he said, to “give time back to unit commanders to invest in their people by reducing gated training requirements as well as rotational deployments. There would also be a reduction in brigade and battalion level training. The focus would be on maintaining the right levels of readiness while focusing on emerging threats.

Interestingly McCarthy commented that “the future battlefield would be saturated with social media and be degraded in terms of communications”, echoing the disruptive tactics that others would use against US forces.

The Army is pushing to bring order and predictability to the transformation process. “Project Convergence, through Futures Command, focuses on increasing the speed at which different platforms integrate in real time to provide the best response to the right shooter. This will synchronise the entire modernisation portfolio,” McCarthy concluded.