National Guard September 2012 : Page 30
LOOKING AH E A D TO 2020 Significant technological advances could ma k e the N ational G uard a very di ff erent force in eight years. So , too , could growing fiscal woes By William Matthews RMED WITH SELF-GUID-ING bullets and strength-ened by an exoskeleton, the soldier of 2020 is protected by a full-body suit of lightweight armor when his ﬂying Humvee lands and he steps onto the battleﬁeld. The screen that’s strapped to his wrist displays a digital map marking the latest locations of friendly and en-emy forces. Updates stream in from a network that pulls data from airborne and ground-based sensors and vast military databases. A computer moni-tors his health and will call a medic if he needs one. That’s one vision of what the Na-tional Guard might look like in 2020. Technologies that are beginning to make their way into the military today, and others that are still in laboratories promise to deliver some remarkable new capabilities. But at the same time, military budgets are being cut and the force itself is shrinking, casting some doubt on what 2020 might deliver. Here’s another vision. It’s a 20-min-ute drive from home to the cyber op-erations center where Air Guardsmen are dissecting a sophisticated digital A worm that’s been discovered in a util-ity company’s control software. Guardsmen were called up by the governor to help the utility’s network security staff with this intricate work. The worm is dormant for now, and their goal is to disable it before it wakes up and does damage. Cyber defense and cyber warfare loom large in the Guard’s future. So do unmanned systems, especially for the Air Guard. By 2020, unmanned aerial vehicles, some the size of passenger jets, others as small as hummingbirds, will collect a torrent of intelligence, software will analyze it and palm-size computers will deliver it to troops on the battleﬁeld. The unmanned helicopters that began delivering supplies to remote outposts in Afghanistan in Decem-ber 2011 will seem ordinary in 2020 and unmanned supply trucks will be ready to join the logistics train. Precision guidance, which was developed for bombs and missiles, then adopted for mortars, artillery and rock-ets, will improve the accuracy of bullets, although the cost per shot will be high. Smartphones and tablet comput-30 | Na tional Guard AAI ers will became standard-issue for use on battleﬁelds and in classrooms well before 2020. Every Guardsmen will be connected. Robots—ﬂying, rolling and crawling—will be commonplace. “You can expect to see more un-manned equipment. That’s the wave of the future,” says Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, who retired in November as acting director of the Army Guard. Robots are already disarming road-side bombs and conducting surveil-lance, and “that’s going to continue to grow,” Carpenter says. Carpenter hopped into the driver’s seat of the South Dakota Army Guard’s newest road grader last spring
Looking Ahead To 2020
Significant technological advances could make the National Guard a very different force in eight years.So, too, could growing fiscal woes<br /> <br /> ARMED WITH SELF-GUIDING bullets and strengthened by an exoskeleton, the soldier of 2020 is protected by a full-body suit of lightweight armor when his flying Humvee lands and he steps onto the battlefield.<br /> <br /> The screen that’s strapped to his wrist displays a digital map marking the latest locations of friendly and enemy forces. Updates stream in from a network that pulls data from airborne and ground-based sensors and vast military databases. A computer monitors his health and will call a medic if he needs one.<br /> <br /> That’s one vision of what the National Guard might look like in 2020.<br /> <br /> Technologies that are beginning to make their way into the military today, and others that are still in laboratories promise to deliver some remarkable new capabilities. But at the same time, military budgets are being cut and the force itself is shrinking, casting some doubt on what 2020 might deliver.<br /> <br /> Here’s another vision. It’s a 20-minute drive from home to the cyber operations center where Air Guardsmen are dissecting a sophisticated digital Worm that’s been discovered in a utility company’s control software.<br /> <br /> Guardsmen were called up by the governor to help the utility’s network security staff with this intricate work.The worm is dormant for now, and their goal is to disable it before it wakes up and does damage.<br /> <br /> Cyber defense and cyber warfare loom large in the Guard’s future. So do unmanned systems, especially for the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> By 2020, unmanned aerial vehicles, some the size of passenger jets, others as small as hummingbirds, will collect a torrent of intelligence, software will analyze it and palm-size computers will deliver it to troops on the battlefield.<br /> <br /> The unmanned helicopters that began delivering supplies to remote outposts in Afghanistan in December 2011 will seem ordinary in 2020 and unmanned supply trucks will be ready to join the logistics train.<br /> <br /> Precision guidance, which was developed for bombs and missiles, then adopted for mortars, artillery and rockets, will improve the accuracy of bullets, although the cost per shot will be high.<br /> <br /> Smartphones and tablet computers will became standard-issue for use on battlefields and in classrooms well before 2020. Every Guardsmen will be connected. Robots—flying, rolling and crawling—will be commonplace.<br /> <br /> “You can expect to see more unmanned equipment. That’s the wave of the future,” says Maj. Gen. Raymond Carpenter, who retired in November as acting director of the Army Guard.<br /> <br /> Robots are already disarming roadside bombs and conducting surveillance, and “that’s going to continue to grow,” Carpenter says.<br /> <br /> Carpenter hopped into the driver’s seat of the South Dakota Army Guard’s newest road grader last spring To discover that the 20-ton machine can be controlled remotely and needs no operator in the cab.<br /> <br /> “Technology will continue to evolve,” Carpenter says, and likely there will be technologies in 2020 that haven’t been imagined today.<br /> <br /> But there is also danger that the Guard won’t keep up with technology as defense budgets grow tighter.<br /> <br /> Driven by two wars, defense spending increased from $296 billion in 2001 to $687 billion in 2011.<br /> <br /> But the era of big increases is over.<br /> <br /> The budget proposed for 2013 is $614 billion—nearly $32 billion less than this year’s. And another $54.7 billion could be cut from the 2013 budget if Congress fails to head off “sequestration” before Jan. 2.<br /> <br /> Clearly, there will be less money for new weapons and new technology, and the services are all planning personnel cuts. What’s not so clear is just how that will affect the Guard.<br /> <br /> Guard leaders and budget experts say the financial crisis could hurt the Guard—or it could help.<br /> <br /> Here’s another vision of 2020.<br /> <br /> After withdrawing from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, the United States has avoided major military conflicts and the Guard’s operating tempo has slowed considerably.<br /> <br /> A lower ops tempo and smaller budgets mean modernization slows, maintenance can be postponed and force structure can be reduced. When old aircraft retire, they’re not always replaced.<br /> <br /> Old Humvees don’t retire and are not recapitalized. They keep going because their replacement, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, is arriving later and in smaller numbers than expected.<br /> <br /> Some begin to question the Guard’s readiness, others question its relevance.<br /> <br /> “If the budget profi le is as bad as many of us think it will be, the National Guard will become a strategic reserve again,” says Daniel Goure, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a defense-oriented think tank in Arlington, Va. “They won’t be able to aff ord to keep the Guard up to the operational standards. It’s a dollar issue.”<br /> <br /> This is a vision of 2020 that Guard leaders adamantly reject.<br /> <br /> “I’d like to throw ‘strategic reserve’ out of the vocabulary. It’s a relic of the past,” says Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, the Florida adjutant general. “We will be an operational reserve and we will be relied on more and more.”<br /> <br /> In fact, Titshaw argues, the Guard can become a solution to the military’s budget woes.<br /> <br /> “The value proposition behind the Guard is the logical model for the future. Why have a large standing military force if you don’t need it?” asks Titshaw, who is a former acting director of the Air Guard.<br /> <br /> Because the Guard can be called to active duty when it’s needed, and demobilized when it’s not, Guard units can cost as little as quarter to a third as much as their active-component counterparts. So, it makes economic sense, Guard advocates argue, to put More capabilities in the Guard and take them off active duty.<br /> <br /> “Elected officials are beginning to see that,” Titshaw says.<br /> <br /> Perhaps, but the Air Force is not.It proposed cutting 5,100 airmen and 139 planes from the Air Guard in 2013. That ignited a furious battle by Guard leaders and governors, who convinced Congress to reject the plan, at least for the time being.<br /> <br /> But whether that leads to greater reliance on the Guard remains to be seen.<br /> <br /> In strategic guidance issued in January, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said it’s time “to re-examine the mix” of active and reserve forces, but he didn’t say where forces should be added or cut. Instead, Panetta said that the pace of operations “will be a signifi cant driver in determining an appropriate active component/reserve component mix.”<br /> <br /> As the war in Afghanistan winds down in 2013 and 2014, “there won’t be the mobilizations and deployments we’ve seen in the past,” says Carpenter.<br /> <br /> But that doesn’t mean there should be a smaller, less ready Guard, he says.<br /> <br /> “We can’t afford to go back to being a strategic reserve,” he says. “It would be a huge waste of the resources that were put into the National Guard in terms of equipment, training and experience over the last 10 years.”<br /> <br /> The Army has not yet proposed cutting the Army Guard, but it will, says Travis Sharp, a defense budget analyst at the Center for a New American Security. The budget crisis is going to force all of the service components to shrink, he says.<br /> <br /> “So far, the focus has been on the Air Guard, but it’s coming to the Army Guard,” he says.<br /> <br /> Not necessarily, says Maj. Gen.William Woff ord, the Arkansas adjutant general. The military that was built during the free-spending decade of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has become unaff ordable, he says.<br /> <br /> But understandably, no one wants to give up the improvement in warfi ghting capability that has been achieved since 2001.<br /> <br /> “It’s going to be a tough decision, but the pure economics of the situation” argue for greater reliance on the Guard, says Woff ord, who is also president of the Adjutants General Association of the United States.<br /> <br /> “At some point, someone will have to make a decision,” Woff ord says.<br /> <br /> “Do you want one F-35 squadron [in the active-component Air Force] or three in the Guard?”<br /> <br /> The Air Force made its preference clear in its budget proposal. Congress has saved the Air Guard’s planes and personnel for now, but for how long?The planes—30-year-old A-10s, 22-year-old F-16s, 50-year-old refueling tankers and others—can’t keep fl ying forever.<br /> <br /> “You can’t get beyond the fact that the Air Force fl eet is the oldest it has ever been and is shrinking, and the Air National Guard fl eet even worse,” says Titshaw.<br /> <br /> A $2.8 billion service-life extension planned for 350 F-16s should keep some of the Guard’s planes fl ying into the mid or even late 2020s, but not all of them.<br /> <br /> “The current trend of exchanging old aircraft for unmanned aerial vehicles will continue for the short term,” Titshaw says. “But we will reach a point, especially after the Afghan war winds down, where we will fi nd ourselves possibly with a glut [of UAVs.] We have ourselves in a real dilemma.”<br /> <br /> Lt. Gen. Harry “Bud” Wyatt, the director of the Air Guard, put it bluntly in a talk to Arkansas Guard airmen last January.<br /> <br /> “We already know we are going to have fewer airplanes in the future,” he told them.<br /> <br /> Wyatt is urging Air Guard members to embrace other missions, UAVs and cyber technologies in particular.<br /> <br /> “Looking ahead, these are emerging technologies and concepts that could grow even in times of declining economy,” he said.<br /> <br /> The Air Guard already operates seven UAV units and is creating an eighth. Plans call for adding four more UAV units in the future, according to the National Guard Bureau.<br /> <br /> Titshaw says as manned aircraft age and retire, the number of Guard UAV units could climb to 15 or 16.But because of the possible UAV surplus he foresees, he says, “I have some apprehension about going helter skelter toward exchanging manned for unmanned [aircraft].”<br /> <br /> Still, unmanned systems have obvious Appeal. Foremost, they eliminate the risk to operators.<br /> <br /> But there are subtler advantages: Unmanned vehicles don’t require medical benefi ts or retirement pay, two expenses that are straining defense budgets, Sharp says. And unmanned systems can also operate for 18, 24 or more hours—some can go for weeks—without stopping. No need to sleep or eat, no lapse of attention.<br /> <br /> Besides unmanned truck convoys, Sharp envisions unmanned strategic and tactical airlifters, even unmanned artillery.<br /> <br /> Ideal for reservists, “you can operate UAVs from the United States, but still fl y real missions around the world. It changes the whole meaning of deployment,” says Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.<br /> <br /> And UAVs may prove more useful than A-10s and F-16s when the Guard responds to domestic emergencies.UAVs have already been used to survey fl ood damage, provide overhead surveillance for police and conduct search and rescue drills. And the Federal Aviation Administration is drafting rules intended to permit greater use of UAVs in domestic airspace.<br /> <br /> Another reason for embracing UAVs? There’s no obvious alternative.<br /> <br /> “We’re projected to lose our A-10s in 2013 and get UAVs,” says Woff ord.<br /> <br /> That’s one of the Air Force decisions being challenged in Congress.So for now, members of Arkansas’ 188th Fighter Wing, who deployed in early July, “don’t know when they come back from Afghanistan whether they’ll still have planes to fl y,” he says.<br /> <br /> Arkansas wants to keep its A-10s.Their close-air support “is still a vital Hackers” who test the security of military networks, they’re “cyber hunter squadrons” that use “active defense” to hunt cyber intruders, and they man Army Computer Emergency Response Teams that defend Army networks.<br /> <br /> Cyber will be a key mission in 2020, adjutants general agree.<br /> <br /> The Washington state Guard is leading the way, recruiting cyber warriors from Microsoft, Boeing, Cisco and the state’s other high-tech companies, and conducting real world operations and training exercises with state emergency agencies and the active-duty military.<br /> <br /> Washington state “is our battle lab,” Titshaw says. But similar cyber units are operating in California, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland and Rhode Island.<br /> <br /> There are strict legal limits on how much the active-component military can do to defend nonmilitary cyber infrastructure, but the Guard has More leeway.<br /> <br /> Can the Guard be called to defend state and commercial networks if they’re attacked?<br /> <br /> “Absolutely,” says Carpenter.<br /> <br /> There may be some legal issues to be worked out, he says, but the Guard should respond to cyber attacks just as it would to floods, forest fires and other domestic emergencies. If the electricity is out, the banking system has ground to a halt and hospitals are struggling on backup power, “you need an immediate response.”<br /> <br /> It’s a homeland defense mission, “and that’s the bread and butter mission for the National Guard,” he says.“I see that mission growing.”<br /> <br /> Another growth area for the Guard may be peaceful overseas engagement.<br /> The Guard’s 20-year-old State Partnership Program now involves 64 partnerships between the Guard and nations around the world. The Illinois Guard, for example, is partner to the Polish Army; Oregon is partner to Bangladesh; New Jersey to Albania; Michigan to Liberia and Washington state to Thailand.<br /> <br /> As the Afghan war ends and traditional U.S. military involvement overseas decreases, expanding the partnership program “could really help” developing countries and possibly head off future conflicts, says Goure of the Lexington Institute. “The citizen-soldier is a great concept to impart on the rest of the world.”<br /> <br /> The Guard conducts humanitarian operations, tutors fledgling militaries on civil-military relations, and generally serves as a model “for how a real army behaves,” Goure says.<br /> <br /> Several nations are lining up to become part of the program in years to come. One is Vietnam. And Gen.Carter F. Ham, the commander of U. S. African Command, wants to add two nations from Africa this year and another two next year, and told the Senate earlier this year that Libya would be a good candidate.<br /> <br /> So, in eight years, two former U.S. adversaries could very well be in the program.<br /> <br /> While much will change by 2020, much will remain the same.<br /> <br /> About 80 percent of the force of 2020 already exists today, Dempsey told a warfighters conference in May, adding, “The major building blocks of today’s force will still be around in eight years.”<br /> <br /> That’s true for the National Guard, too, Carpenter says. Over the past 10 years, the Guard has received nearly $40 billion in new equipment, from trucks and aircraft to UAVs, night vision gear and generators. The Army Guard reports having 88 percent of its required equipment; the Air Guard has 94 percent.<br /> <br /> “That’s going to form the base of our organization for quite a while into the future,” Carpenter says.<br /> <br /> “The Guard is in better shape right now than we ever have been,” says Wofford.<br /> <br /> But technology marches on, and so will the Guard, possibly by 2020 wearing exoskeletons. They’re already being tested.<br /> <br /> INCREDIBLE HULC<br /> <br /> One exoskeleton looks like a set of leg braces and a titanium backpack with short arms that reach over the wearer’s shoulders to lift and carry heavy loads.<br /> <br /> Developer Lockheed Martin says its Human Universal Load Carrier – HULC – will enable troops to carry up to 200 pounds for 12.4 miles before the exoskeleton must be recharged.The HULC enables troops to run seven mph for extended periods and 10 mph for shorter sprints, Lockheed says.<br /> <br /> A Raytheon version features bulkier bionic-hero-style arms and legs and a helmet. Raytheon says its model can punch through three inches of wood.<br /> <br /> MEDICAL MONITOR<br /> <br /> Troops in 2020 are likely to be watched over by a “physiological status monitoring system” that will track body temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, hydration, stress and other health indicators.<br /> <br /> If a soldier needs medical help, the system will alert a medic and mark the stricken soldier’s position on a digital map.<br /> <br /> SMART BULLETS<br /> <br /> Engineers at Sandia National Laboratory have developed four-inch long, half-inch diameter bullets that are equipped with an optical sensor on the tip and tiny dart-like fins on the tail.<br /> <br /> When the bullet is fired, the optical sensor homes in on a spot of laser Light projected on the target by the rifle scope. The fins steer the bullet toward the laser spot, adjusting the bullet’s flight up to 30 times a second to compensate for wind and changes in air density.<br /> <br /> Sandia engineers said earlier this year that the bullet can reliably strike within eight inches of a target more than a half mile away. A standard bullet could miss by 10 yards.<br /> <br /> SMART TALK<br /> <br /> Communication will change greatly by 2020. The Army is already testing smartphones as a way to bring more brainpower to Rifleman Radios.<br /> <br /> When plugged into the radio, a smartphone acts as a “mobile computing platform” that enables the radio to send and receive data such as photos, maps and videos, as well as email and text messages.<br /> <br /> The radio, meanwhile, provides the smartphone with a secure network for communicating. The radio also continues to work as a voice communication device.<br /> <br /> The data enabled by the smartphone is intended to greatly improve situational awareness on the battlefield.Continuously updated digital maps will show where friendly forces and enemy forces are, patrol reports will warn of IEDs and ambushes, and photos will help troops identify wanted insurgents.<br /> <br /> Smartphones or similar devices are expected to be approved for battlefield without radios as soon as wireless networks can be made secure.<br /> <br /> ADVANCES IN ARMOR<br /> <br /> Breakthroughs in nanotechnology are expected to bring major improvements to armor for troops and equipment.<br /> <br /> The Army’s Natick Soldier Systems Center is working on armor made from carbon nanotubes that would be much lighter yet still more effective than today’s body armor.<br /> <br /> HIGHFLYING HUMVEE<br /> <br /> The notion of a flying Humvee is so alluring that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending $54 million to develop one.<br /> <br /> DARPA wants a four-person “flyable/ roadable vehicle” that can take off and land vertically and get 250 nautical miles to a tank of gas. The vehicle, called a Transformer TX, must be able to take off and land automatically so that certified pilots aren’t needed. It must also be able to survive small arms fire and meet crash protection standards.<br /> <br /> Benefits? The flying Humvee “can avoid improvised explosive devices and ambushes,” and drop in unexpectedly on enemies, DARPA says.Testing could begin as early as 2015.<br /> <br /> Efforts to build a flyable combat vehicles dates back at least to World War<br /> II. A few have been built and some have even flown, but so far, none has proven practical or safe.<br /> <br /> Will Transformer TX be ready for 2020? A flight of fancy.<br /> <br /> William Matthews is a Springfield, Va.- based freelance writer who specializes in military matters. He can be contacted via email@example.com.