Strategic Landpower Dialogue: A Conversation with GEN James Rainey

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This transcript is from a CSIS event hosted on June 3, 2024. Watch the full video here.

Robert Brown: Welcome to those in person, and those online joining us as well, to the Strategic Landpower Dialogue. Really glad you’re here. I’m General Bob Brown, President and CEO of Association of United States Army, and we’re very proud to partner with CSIS for this really tremendous dialogue that we’ll have. And this is our fourth Strategic Landpower Dialogue. And I really want to thank CSIS again for the great partnership and all that goes on.

Now, we couldn’t do this at all without the support of General Dynamics, so thanks so much to General Dynamics for supporting these great events. Would not be possible without them. So a big thanks there.

We couldn’t be more excited to have another tremendous leader in the force dialogue, General Jim Rainey, commander of U.S. Army Futures Command, for a discussion on how the Army’s continuously transforming how it equips, organizes, trains, and fights to remain the world’s most lethal force today and into the foreseeable future.

Today, the change to the character of war is happening at a faster pace than we have seen in many decades, and many would argue ever. Whether we’re talking about first-person view drones, electronic warfare, the use of artificial intelligence for targeting, or new capabilities and players in the space domain, we are measuring the cycle of change and counter-change on the battlefield in just days and weeks.

To be effective, land forces must be able to rapidly innovate, adapt, and diffuse change across formations. But we are also seeing today’s battlefield is blending these rapid changes with some fundamentals that have decided battlefield outcomes for centuries. A couple of examples of these – artillery remains dominant, and certainly the lethality of the small unit with fit, disciplined soldiers and great leaders remain as critical as ever.

We’ve also been reminded that war is often bloodier, costlier, and longer than anyone assumes. And land forces remain central. To paraphrase the historian T.R. Fehrenbach, if you desire to defend and protect the land and the people who inhabit it, you must do this on the ground, by putting your young soldiers in the mud. Fortunately, the Army has the right officer leading the services transformation to stay ready for the demands of the battlefield today, while staying ahead of the challenges for tomorrow’s battlefield.

I’ll only briefly summarize General Rainey’s extensive bio, which you can find on the CSIS site online or the AUSA site, either one. General Rainey was commissioned as an infantry officer in the Army from Eastern Kentucky University in 1987 and holds a master’s degree in Advanced Military Arts and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies, SAMS, and a master’s in Public Administration from Troy University. He has served in a variety of command and leadership positions, really from the platoon level all the way up through division command, and in key jobs in the Army, as, for example, the Army’s G-3/5/7 and U.S. Army combined arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, CAC, commander.

He now serves as commander of Army Futures Command, the service’s newest major command, established in 2018. Since taking the role at Army futures command in October of 2022, General Rainey has led over 17,000 soldiers and civilians to ensure the Army and its soldiers remain at the forefront of technological innovation and warfighting ability. So I know our audience is excited to hear from General Rainey, so I’ll hand it over to Dr. Tom Karako, who will moderate our discussion. Tom, over to you.

Tom Karako: Thank you, sir. Thank you, General Brown. We really appreciate your kicking us off. And, as we’ve said before, we’re just delighted and I’m very pleased to have this partnership with AUSA.

So we’re going to spend most of this dialogue in conversational mode back and forth, but we are also taking questions from online, from folks watching online. We got a full house here, but whether here or online, please submit them from the registration page. And they’ll come through the U.S. Army NETCOM-encrypted commands right here to my tablet, and we’ll pose them to General Rainey as appropriate. So, General Rainey, good to see you and thanks for coming to CSIS.

James Rainey: Well, good to see you. And thanks for having me. And thanks to – thanks to AUSA for the invitation and putting this on, and thanks to your great organization for hosting it. And I’d like to thank everybody, both here in the audience and anybody that’s watching. I think the kindest thing people do for each other is give them some of their time. It’s the most valuable thing we all have. Can’t get it back. Wish you had more. So I never take that lightly. And I hope – I hope this is useful.

Dr. Karako: Great. Well, look, we’re going to cover a lot of – a lot of ground today. But I really want to begin with the kind of signature question that we start each one of these events with, which is tell us your view of the role of landpower within the joint force, both today and to 2040.

Gen. Rainey: OK. The reason we have a military is – well, the reason we have an Army is to provide joint forces – joint force commanders with the absolute ability to dominate the land domain, period. We do a lot of things, but that that is the fundamental reason we have an Army. We have land forces in our great brothers in the Marine Corps, SOF, incredible land forces. But the Army makes up the overwhelming majority of the land force.

So our enemies being certain that they will lose a fight in the land domain, primarily to deter them, ideally. And, you know, God forbid, if we get into war the joint force expects and demands the Army can dominate the land force, anywhere, any environment. I feel good about that. I believe we indisputably have the best Army in the world today. And making sure that statement is as true today as it is – or as true in ’27 as it is today, ’30 – you know, pick a point in time on the continuum. That – that’s really why we have Army Futures Command.

Dr. Karako: You can’t spell homeland without land, so.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Karako: So you just said it, your command, Army Futures Command. Talk to us a little bit about what it is, and why it was stood up, and how it’s evolved since 2018.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, thanks. So still some – you know, some people don’t fully understand it. So about almost six years ago now, and several years – you know, it took several years to plan – but the decision was made by the Army to dedicate one of its four-star ACOMs to modernization of the Army, because it’s so important. I think it was – obviously, no surprise – I think it was a great decision. I fully support it. Because – and there’s no bigger fan of Training and Doctrine Command than me. I served there three times as a general officer. The scope and magnitude of the problem, for one command to do everything – leader development training, across DOTMLPF-P, got to the point where it warranted taking parts of the enterprise and dedicating a command with initially the idea of modernizing the Army.

And that has grown under Secretary Wormuth and General McConville, now, General George, into the larger responsibility to transform the Army. Which is a bigger task than modernizing the Army. And, I got to say, cannot accomplish any of our mission without a whole bunch of teammates and partners. So it’s a very interesting job. It’s a by, through, and with-type leadership thing, which, you know, most jobs are when they get that complicated.

Dr. Karako: So just in brief, the relationship between AFC and TRADOC broadly, and also ASA(ALT), connect those dots for us.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. It’s not just them. So AFC is charged with transforming the Army. So I’ll start with ASA(ALT). And we have a great relationship with ASA(ALT). The Honorable Bush is a phenomenal Ranger buddy. I personally think he’s the best AAE we’ve had since I knew there was an AAE in the Army, in 30 years or so. So if you talk about the M –modernization, material, Army Futures Command is responsible for requirements. You know, the chief owns all the requirements, but I’m the ACOM commander who’s accountable for requirements, which is half of the then-acquisition process, which Mr. Bush and his teammates execute in accordance with law and guidance from the secretary.

But transforming is everything DOTMLPF-P. So General Brito in TRADOC, doctrine, organization, training, leader development, our great teammates at Army Materiel Command, kind of lead our facilitation. Which is fascinating. When you talk – people get locked in on something like a new – like the Booker. So we got a great new light vehicle, combat vehicle, mobile protected firepower. Guess what? You got to have ranges. It’s got motor pool implications, maintenance. So, you know, nothing happens in isolation. And then FORSCOM, General Poppas and his crew, and General Flynn out in USARPAC, General Williams over in Europe, the warfighting expertise of the Army resides in operating force.

You know, almost everybody in AFC is an incredibly accomplished warfighter on the uniform side. But if you’ve been out of this fight for a year or two, you know. I mean, so the men and women who are leading formations right now dealing with these problems all over the world, that’s the most – that’s the richest source of information to me. So staying flat with FORSCOM is important. And then, of course, Headquarters, DA, joint teammates. We fight as a joint force, so we can’t transform in isolation. And then, you know, people argue about the future. One thing nobody argues about is that we’re going to – we’re going to fight with partners and allies, so meaningful relationships, you know, longstanding relationships, like we have with NATO and, you know, critical, newer relationships out in the Pacific, for example.

Dr. Karako: Yeah. Well, back to –

Gen. Rainey: So it takes a village to transform the Army.

Dr. Karako: (Laughs.) Back in 2017, though, General Milley said, hey, here’s our top modernization priorities, and then out pops AFC, with the CFTs, the cross functional teams. And, you know, those have been within AFC. And you recently added a new CFT, for instance. And so how do you kind of see, from the 2018 – that was, you know, six years ago, seven to back to 2017 – how do you see the modernization priorities in terms of steadiness versus evolution? And then, likewise, this modest change on the CFT structure?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. So if you were – if I believed that Army modernization and transformation are in a pretty good place. We’ve had a pretty good five-year run. If you ask me why that is, one of the main reasons would be the fact that we settled on priorities and haven’t changed them. So they transcended, you know, three chiefs, two administrations, three secretaries. And we’ve stuck with those modernization priorities. General George recently moved the network up the number one, but inside the six that we started with we’ve resisted the change. You know, I’ve studied Army modernization, acquisition, you know, when we’ve succeeded and when we failed. And one of the big things is changing your priorities.

Another one is moving requirements, moving the goalpost. So we’ve done a very good job. It’s not me. It’s Mike Murray early in AFC, and the men and women of AFC. We’ve resisted the temptation to move those around, which means really that we got them pretty close to right. The requirements is important because the cross functional teams that were stood up as well as part of AFC – and they’re a very simple concept. People – I explained it to people and they’re like, really, you guys – it took you till now to figure that out? But the idea is, take everybody that it takes to accomplish the mission and organize them.

So acquisition professionals, requirement writers, the best and brightest at the centers of excellence in TRADOC, for example. Put them together on a team. You know, clearly identify a problem, scope it correctly, dogpile talent on it, give them access to senior leaders and decision makers. So that’s the idea behind the CFTs. We’ve made two adjustments. We added one, Contested Logistics CFT. They’re in full operational capability now. And that was probably just a realization that we should have had one. (Laughs.) And so we were able to do that. I worked for with General Daly, the then-AMC commander, and that’s down in Huntsville. That’s important, because the center of gravity of sustainment for the Army is down in Huntsville. So we put it there.

Colonel-Promotable Shane Upton runs that, and is doing a great job. And then most recently, we did an adaption of one. So not a new CFT, but we took the APNT, assured positing, navigation, and timing, who basically accomplished the task they were given, or transitioning the capability to our teammates in the PEOs and other places. So we re-missioned them against the larger problem of all-domain sensing. And Mike Monteleone, an incredibly talented SCS, is running that. Most of them are going to stay in Huntsville, but we’re going to move the leadership up here into the – into the beltway, because that’s kind of the center of gravity of the intel community, obviously. So we’re excited about that.

And both of those are illustrations – and we haven’t shut any down yet, but we might. You know, they were – they were not designed to endure forever, right? You get stand up, get a mission, accomplish it. And then every person matters in the Army, so we don’t want people – you know, I joke around, I don’t expect to have a 50th anniversary of a CFT. I know, like, it’s 70th of TRADOC, 80th at Normandy, those are great things. But the CFTs are supposed to stand up, solve a problem, and adapt.

Dr. Karako: Well, and you’ve talked many times about adaptability. So, again, when we – again, we publicly said, here’s our modernization priorities, 2017-2018 timeframe. How do you see – because all of this is tied to the threat. How do you see Russia and China adapting to us? We’ve put out there, here’s our concepts. We’re going to start doing things differently. How do you see them adapting? And what does that tell you about our future needs?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, I don’t know if they’re – you know, we put out what we’re doing, and they’re adapting to that. I think they went to school on us during the – during the War on Terror and looked for vulnerabilities and rapidly accelerated places that the joint force is vulnerable. A2/AD, for example, China – in the case of China, they kind of optimized for the air and maritime threat, which is smart because our Air Force and Navy are so good. (Laughs.) But it’s also a potential vulnerability. I think they went all-in on space at an alarming pace, for example. Russia, I’m not so sure about, because what we thought about Russia, pre-Ukraine, turned out to not be very accurate. So I think people are still trying to figure that one out. I don’t know if that answers your question.

Dr. Karako: Do you think –

Gen. Rainey: If I can talk about adaptability, though. If you look at – if you ask me characteristics that we need as a joint force, and as a country, for that matter, the next time we get in a – you know, and, again, I do not – I hope that we do not get a war that’s, you know, existential, nuclear equipped superpower-type kind of stuff. I think it’s about deterrence. But in the event that we find ourselves in another conflict, I would put adaptability at that near top of the characteristics that we’re going to need. Because nobody’s going to get the future totally right. You know, it’s about not getting it really wrong, seeing what you missed, and being able to adapt fast. Which is a skill that that we need to get better at as a military. We should get better at it now before we have to do it in combat.

Dr. Karako: So you’ve got “futures” in your command’s title. Talk about your perspective on how technology – technological disruption – is affecting not the nature but the character of war. The speed with which that’s coming, and things like that. I think I’ve heard you say that the Army has historically not been a very – it’s not – it’s not about technology, but it’s about the ability to adapt and use technology well.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. I’ve said a lot of things. I’m not sure if that was one of them. (Laughter.) Seventy-five minutes, we’ll probably get around to it. Yeah, so several thoughts. I think you asked a character of war question, but I’m going to take a little liberty in the answer. So when people ask me what’s changing, what I think about what’s changing, I always encourage people to start by thinking about what is not changing, for several reasons. I think it’s the – the nature of war is very important. I think if you’re trying to figure out the future, especially if you’re spending big taxpayer dollars, you know, you may or may not figure out the big changes; you better not mess up that not-going-to-change stuff.

And at the top of the, you know, what is not changing, I would – you know, I think it’s indisputable that war remains a human endeavor. It’s a contest a will between people. Pick an ongoing conflict right now – you know, look at Ukraine versus Russia. The power and the decisiveness of the human element, the horror of war, who are you fighting for, why are you fighting? And we’re not going to fight anywhere where there’s not going to be serious civilian implications of that fight. So people are still the thing.

Land remains decisive. There are some that, I think, wish the world would turn into an exchange of precision munitions between people, but I think that’s kind of shortsighted. I don’t see any evidence of that. You know, people insist on living on the land. It’s where everything is. And land is going to stay – I’m not – you know, I’m not going to say it is the decisive – I think that’s kind of a pointless argument, because we fight as a joint force. And if we fight somebody good, we got to be the best in every domain. But land absolutely remains decisive.

And then the third one that nobody’s talking about enough is that we’re a values-based military. The United States is special, our joint force is special, because we abide by the law of armed conflict. Not hyper restrictive ROE, but the law of armed conflict. And I do not believe that we’re going to walk away from that. So when you look at – if you’re looking to learn from something like what’s happening in Ukraine, for example, or Gaza – you know, Ukraine’s a better example – you’d have to put that through a filter of would U.S. commanders, would our men and women who understand that tremendous moral responsibility to ethically manage violence, would they do that or not?

And I think what my takeaway from that piece of it is, is that our systems can’t just be a little bit faster than our enemy. We have to be so much better when it comes to decision making, because I believe we’re going to continue to practice ethical decision making even in the most horrific combat. And that’s what makes us special. And if we walk away from that, it’s kind of pointless, right? So what’s not going to change?

But to your actual question you asked me, I believe that we are at the most disruptive point in terms of technology since, easily – and I’m not a historian – easily since the pre-World War II. And, you know, General Milley, smarter than me, says ever. So maybe – somewhere between ever and certainly World War II. (Laughter.) You know, the last time things were this crazy people were inventing things like airplanes, radios, combustion engines. So and even then, as disruptive as those were, the pace of disruption – you know, the magnitude, but the pace is what is alarming.

Anything you think you know now is going to be different certainly in a year, maybe 90 days. You know, the lifespan of a UAV – you know, the EW UAV, it looks to me like it’s about six weeks, right? You know, so that kind of speed of evolution in the character war. But I remind people, again, not a professional historian but a student, you know, technology is always disruptive, but very rarely ever decisive. There’s a few notable examples, but so I think the thing is not, you know, just trying to figure it out permanently, like solving for X. It’s, again, how do you build that adaptability to what is large – a huge tech disruption. And I can talk about some of the things that are absolutely alarmingly changing.

Dr. Karako: There’s the technology change. There’s the – as you’ve already alluded to, the ubiquity of sensors, theirs and ours, the proliferation, theirs and ours, of PGMs. And so, you know, former PACOM commander Admiral Davidson said that if it was fixed on the surface of the Earth, it’s dead. Maybe a little bit of exaggeration, but nevertheless. So do you think that the – you know, so this is a sort of a discussion point – do you see it as inevitable that the battlefield will become transparent? There’s a lot of sensors commercial, and otherwise, out there. Or do you think that perhaps with continued deception, camouflage, blinding them, that it might be a little more translucent on that front?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. Thanks, Tom. Yeah, you hit the two big ones. And it’s actually the nexus of the two, right? So it’s ubiquitous sensing, you can be seen almost anywhere, coupled with precision guided munitions, which allow an enemy to then hit what he can see. And in the case of China, it’s even more alarming because of the magazine depth advantage, especially if you get inside their interior lines.

So, no, I don’t – I mean, I’ve got all the respect in the world for Admiral Davidson. I think that’s a healthy way to approach, you know, the possibility that you’re going to be seen, and the possibility that you can be killed if you can be seen. I think what it’s really doing is it’s changing – and it’s the biggest thing. If I was in a maneuver – if I was commanding an infantry company, you know, an armored division right now, I would be very focused on – and I know our guys are – our men and women are – is we used to try to maneuver to avoid being seen. Now, the challenge becomes, how do I maneuver in a way where I – if I can’t challenge what the enemy sees, I need to now challenge what he understands.

So the ability to confuse, to be unpredictable. You know, the days of doing course of action analysis and picking the best course of action might be gone, if it’s too predictable. So you’re going to have to get into winning on suboptimal, less predictable courses of action – deception, camouflage. I think that there’s an emerging – you know, we’ve talked about it – but one of the things that’s going to be really important is counter C2, countering the enemy’s ability to command and control his formations in a very deliberate, proactive across all your capabilities, especially counter sensing.

Now, I’m a little bit – a little bit optimistic – more optimistic than some folks, because it is very easy to confuse AI, large language models, satellites. You know, you just have to create a small amount of uncertainty to offset that capability. And then, you know, one of the things – I don’t know – I don’t know what’s going to happen, but one of the things I believe we should be prepared for is the possibility of a short, sharp technological exchange, where all this stuff cancels and nobody quits, and then you’re going to be back in what would look like a more traditional fight or maneuver, is going to be absolutely critical.

Dr. Karako: Yeah. So, back to big picture AFC. The chief of staff talks about continuous transformation. You’ve got kind of short, medium, and long-term time horizons there. Maybe focus a little bit on the long term. Why is it important from an organizational perspective to be thinking in the 2040 timeframe? You know, and how – what are the big thoughts that you’re beginning to develop on the 2040 timeframe?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. And I talked more about the decade. You know, I think the long-term horizon is the decade from ’30 to ’40. And it’s important. I think, that’s where the really big disruptions are going to happen. I mean, it takes time to transform. I think the second and third FYDP out there are where you have opportunities to – you know, it’s really hard to make big, giant corrections inside the FYDP. So I think there’s big opportunities out there. I think, bringing the S&T capability, not just at the military but of the country, to bear. The tech innovation. I mean, all those superpowers where we still have a gigantic advantage, or all those opportunities are out in that ’30 to ’40 space.

I think you’re going to see some really, really interesting things. I think we’re going to have to shift back to our more historical precedent of maneuvering to in place fires, as opposed to the last 20 years where we’ve largely used fires to shape maneuver. I think offensive and defensive fires are going to merge into one thing. Not that there won’t still be a protection requirement, but separate offensive and defensive fires. I think there’s an emergence of an air-ground littoral that’s at least as significant is that, you know, traditional land-maritime littoral.

Dr. Karako: Love that phrase, by the way.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. Jim Greer, legendary soldier for life out there, Leavenworth. I can’t take credit for that. I wish I could. But, yeah, the air-ground. And then the biggest one – the biggest one, to me, is human-machine integration. Whoever figures that out is going to have such an advantage. And there’s – you know, every single determining factor, currently, every advantage resides with the United States military right now. And capitalizing on that. So those are a few of the reasons. I’m super passionate –

Dr. Karako: So we’re going to walk through each one of those. But before I do, I want to – before we move to that, I want to – you know, you’ve got to think these big thoughts about the Army, and the Army’s future in 2040, relative to the whole Army, relative to the joint force, and I presume the Guard as well.

Gen. Rainey: Oh yeah.

Dr. Karako: So how do you – how do you see – and I’m thinking here about Project Convergence, the recent capstone four. So perhaps some takeaways, some lessons that you’re seeing there from PC in terms of the big Army, the Joint Force, and if there’s a Guard element. If you could talk about that.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. Yeah. Well, first of all, we only got one Army. So, you know, whenever somebody says, well, you didn’t talk about the Guard, I say I said the Army. You know, to me, in my mind – just up front, I mean, we only got – we only got a little over a million people. If we find China, everybody’s going. Everybody better be good. (Laughter.) And a whole bunch of other people that don’t know they’re going yet are probably going. (Laughter.) So it’s total Army. And General McConville, and especially now General George, I mean, when we talk transforming the Army it’s in the context of the total Army. So I apologize for not specifically calling out that.

Yeah, Project Convergence is a – it started as a once-a-year experiment. going back, again, guys like Mike Murray and Jim Richardson and Ross Kaufman. You know, as we started this, working with our joint partners. And it started out as just a simple sensor to shooter thread. And over time, we’ve expanded that. This one we just had in March was by far the biggest and, I think, the most successful joint partner – it had a joint and partnered phase out of Camp Pendleton. And then more – it was also joint – but a more Army land-centric one out at the national treasure that is the National Training Center.

So yeah, big take. You got to move to data-centric warfare now. You know, we’re not going to – if we’re connecting sensors and shooters and sustainers, you know, episodically, we’re not going to keep up. So we had some success there. The joint force, there’s lots of opportunities for the joint force to get better with things like standardization of message formats, and making sure the stuff we have can talk together and work. So an Aegis cruiser picking up a track, passing that to a Patriot, an F-35 passing tracks to ground-based forces. Those are things we did.

You know, the reason I like – I mean, I love – I’m a trainer. I love training. I love going out on training exercises. Experiments are cool, because it’s OK to fail, which is hard with American soldiers because you actually have to take time to explain to them that don’t make this work just because you’re awesome. If it doesn’t work, I want to know before we spend the money. But once you’ve overcome that hurdle, you go out and then you can do 1,000 reps, you know, of something until you figure it out. So that.

I think the joint side, there’s a growing realization that we should put more energy as a joint force into joint simulation, joint experimentation together. We just don’t have enough money and time for people to be pursuing parallel paths, or divergent paths, or having, you know, multiple services working on the same part of the problem. On the Army side, we experimented with our signature modernization efforts, which are all in a really good place. And we worked on a demonstration of next generation command and control, which is the big idea that we have that we actually demonstrated that it’s possible. So that’s – you might have seen General George’s recent comments about the Army going all-in on that.

And then human-machine integrated formation. So, you know, taking no credit for it because it’s all the people, but when we started this about a year and a half ago with human-machine integrated formations, the one smart thing I did was ban any briefings or PowerPoint. I said, I don’t want to see it until I can go see men and machines, humans and machines together. And because of that, we’re at a, you know, think big, start small, go fast kind of approach to this. So we did a battalion-level human-machine live-fire out in the central corridor at the National Training Center, in less than a year. Which just makes my point that the only thing keeping us from doing that is getting out of our own way, because all the technology exists.

Dr. Karako: So let’s – let me pull the thread on – you mentioned a couple of warfighting functions there. Your especially highlighted maneuver and fires. And I remember hearing you say this over a year ago at the fire symposium in Lawton, Oklahoma, is you said in the past – you know, first of all, you said the Army doesn’t do attrition. We do maneuver. But now we’re moving from maneuver and fires in support of maneuver to maneuver in support of fires. So what is the relationship between those two functions, in your mind? And doesn’t it – it sounds to me like you’re moving to a third thing, in a way beyond our current situation, that is, frankly more fires-centric. Is that – is that what I’m hearing? Is maneuver an enabler to fires?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. I say a lot of things, again. So let me go back to –

Dr. Karako: Hey, I’m listening.

Gen. Rainey: No, I appreciate it. Because I get in trouble with this one – attrition verse maneuver. I am a big proponent and big fan of applying attrition to the people we are fighting. (Laughter.) You know, we are – we are in the stomping business, you know when it comes to fighting. So applying attrition to the enemy, yes. What I’m what I’m trying to say is one of the superpowers and one of the reasons we’re the best Army in the world is we do joint all-arms maneuver. So we would not settle into an attrition-based fight and trade our most precious – you know, our men and women – for acres, for meters, for feet. So we do maneuver all for applying attrition to the enemy. But that wasn’t your question.

Dr. Karako: But we’re pummeling.

Gen. Rainey: But it gets to your next – it gets to your next point, is, yeah, so, in COIN fighting in the last 20 years or so we settled into fires, both lethal and non-lethal, as a shaping of maneuver – you know, intel drives fire drives maneuver. Me included, as recently as when I was commanding the Third Infantry Division. What I’m observing, because the defense is getting stronger and the offense is getting – it’s still decisive – but the offense is getting harder, and more costly, and more difficult. Plus, the incredible advancements in cross-domain fires, the ability to shoot from the land into other domains, the extension of ranges, the addition of things like loitering munitions.

I believe that – and, candidly, the Army’s not as big as I would like it to be, right? So we need to get back to grabbing a piece of ground for the purposes of – whether it’s Army long-range fires, Army conventional fires, the Air Force needs to extend its legs, the Navy needs to hit a port, you know what I’m saying? So maneuver to enable the joint force to fire, both at the tactical level and certainly at the operational level.

Dr. Karako: Well, it’s the antiship seeker on the PrSM, that big franchise coming forward, with the Tomahawks, you know, on trucks, all that sort of stuff. But, as you say, you’re seeing a lot of the primacy of fires in Ukraine, in terms of the demand signal for all that. So I guess, as you look at, say within the –

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, the primacy – I know you’re a fires guy. I don’t know if I can go down to primacy. The most important warfighting function is command and control. Because our most – you know, our number-one superpower is our commanders. You know, we’re a commander-centric Army. Not the human, but the position of commander. And command and control, I think, you know, that’s the holy grail, right? If we get that right, I think we’ll be fine. If we don’t, none of the rest of this stuff’s going to work, right? I think maneuver and fires, especially if you imagine offensive and defensive fires combined, really system not a function. But nothing works unless you get the intel right. And if you can’t sustain it, it doesn’t matter. So it’s kind of – you know, it’s kind of a system of systems versus a primacy.

Dr. Karako: Fair enough. So within the – within the large –

Gen. Rainey: But I did get, like, a big metal out at Fort Sill last time I was out there. So I think I’m, like, I’m popular with the – I get invited to Sill more than Moore these days. (Laughter.) Which hurts my feelings, as a former infantry commandant.

Dr. Karako: Well, there’ve been some shifts within kind of the modernization, I guess, efforts. Looks like a lot of innovation going on with the cannon side. So how do you how do you see the Army artillery cannon-based stuff, 39-caliber, stuff like that – is that sufficient for the ranges that we’re going to need, especially in the Pacific?

Gen. Rainey: Well, there’s a lot to that question. You know, the Pacific it depends on what range – you know, if you’re fighting – whoever the – if an – if an infantry brigade combat team has to take a piece of ground to either protect the logistics node or position, you know, agile combat position Air Force teammates, then you’re going to need all the conventional fight capability. So I personally believe there will absolutely be tactical-level fighting in the Pacific. Although the Army’s primary mission in the Pacific is to enable the joint force. But you’re going to have to fight – you know, Chinese aren’t going to – aren’t going to cede ground anywhere. So you’re going to have to be able to fight. At the operational level, range matters.

But, you know, the whole maritime world is, you know, boiled – I’m not a Navy person, obviously. But, you know, it kind of boils down to about 11, 12, 13 global choke points, and the ability to influence those with the joint force, right? So imagine land forces controlling both sides with the ability to affect the maritime domain. So my point is you don’t need to get millions of miles to be effective. But when you’re talking about cannon artillery, you’re talking about close combat or close fight.

The biggest thing I think we need to think about is capacity, right? So I’ve been watching – we’ve been five years, we’re into some really good capability initiatives. I mean, the Army’s – long range precision fires, I mean, Army’s got some, some very impactful programs that are either fielding or on the cusp of fielding. At the tactical level, we have great, great equipment now. We just have a capacity problem. So I’m starting to think, you know, like, if you had – if you had a dollar to spend, you know, spend some of it on capability. But it’s irrelevant unless the capacity goes with it. And even then, if you have good capability and capacity and you don’t want to fight in the homeland, then positioning becomes equally important – to include the ability to protect anything you push. Which is why I’m kind of thinking about this offensive and defensive merger that I described.

And I’m not just talking about 155 production. I mean, the physical amount of firing units. It’s one of my favorite stories I tell – not stories, history that I relay. Desert Storm, the great First Infantry Division was the initial formation who, you know, I think they called it an initial main effort, we would call it a supporting effort. But in the U.S. Army division whose job was to put the initial breach in. And they had four firing brigade – brigades – four brigades supporting an infantry division in a – you know, it turned out to not be as hard as we thought it was – but, I mean, because breach is no joke, but I mean, like, right? So now you look at what’s the force mix between firing brigades, protection brigades, and maneuver brigades? I think that’s something we need to spend some time thinking about.

Dr. Karako: Yeah. That was actually the malice aforethought of my comment with the Guard earlier was, you know, the degree to which there’s some surge capacity that might need to be put into the Guard, for instance, as well.

Gen. Rainey: Well, yeah. I mean, we have – you know, and I’d defer to the chief and really the secretary. I mean, over time, you know, we need to look at total combo, what’s in which combo, when are we going to need it? That’s pretty well known. But, you know, there’s some things – I mean, the Guard – the Guard is good at artillery. They’re really good at it. They’re good at everything but, I mean, if you look. And it’s actually fortuitous because when I was a G-3 I spent a lot of time understanding, you know, homeland. Because the other thing about the Army, we dominate the land, we also do windows. You know, the Army does what the country asks. (Laughs.)

And if we got a plan for it, if we got a doctrine for it, great. If we don’t, we figure it out. So and getting the emergency response, DSCA, and things like that. If you’re a governor and you have a crisis in your state, you want some soldiers, you probably want some smart soldiers, you probably want some trucks, probably want some strong backs, you probably want some good command and control. You know, so the Guard – you know, good artillery formations have all those things in spades. They’re good at sustaining themselves. They’re good at problem solving. So that’s an example where it’s kind of a natural fit. So I wouldn’t want to move it all somewhere and break something that’s really important in the process.

Dr. Karako: Yeah. So last time I talked – before we move off the subject – out at Fort Sill a couple a couple weeks ago I saw you. You hold up this book “Red God of War.” And I thought that was striking. It’s a book from 1986 about Soviet artillery. Why was that worth your time to bring out? I’m a fan of the book. I just had to bring it from upstairs. But why are you looking to a book from 1986 about the Soviets?

Gen. Rainey: That’s good. You have the other copy.

Dr. Karako: (Laughs.) Yes. There’s at least two.

Gen. Rainey: Because I had – it’s funny. Sorry, this has nothing to do with this talk. But after I held that up and talked it, apparently that thing’s out of print. (Laughter.)

Dr. Karako: Shocker.

Gen. Rainey: It costs $1,000 now on some website.

Dr. Karako: Oh, good to know.

Gen. Rainey: So, one, keep your eye on it while my aides around. It might just walk off. But, no, so one of the best things somebody told me once, and I’m sure somebody famous said it. I apologize for not citing it. Is if you want to learn something new, read an old book. And if you’re thinking about, you know, transforming fires, warfighting system, getting back to capacity-based, you know, fires-based maneuver, we’re a lot better at this at a point in time in our history. And the Russians who – I’m not super impressed with their military, obviously – but they’ve always been a fires-based army.

And that book is just a really well-written, thoughtful, detailed analysis of it. I’m not advocating we go to that, but people should understand it. And I’m not just, you know, pandering to one of my heroes out there in the audience, but – or J.T. Thompson, I think’s, watching, who’s my peer, the best fires guy I’ve ever seen, who taught me everything I know. But, you know, in the art-science continuum, artillery guys don’t have the luxury of us maneuver – you know, so if you’re if you’re 95 percent art, 5 percent science, that makes you a charismatic, aggressive infantry men. You know, General Brown is an example. But if you want to do, like, this, you there’s some physics and math. You kind of got to be smart. And that book really takes that apart in great detail.

Dr. Karako: Gotcha. So defensive fires, the other – the other half of – or, another part of what’s out of Fort Sill, for instance. Seeing just tons of the need and the desire for counter-UAS. Likewise, the need and desire for cruise missile defense, the Army is doing the NGSRI, the Stinger follow on program right now. How do you think about the demand signal for those? And, again, we’re seeing the demand is massive now. Where is this going for 2030-2040?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s no secret, for a lot of good reasons – and the people making those decisions that the time – back to the artillery. The late great General Odierno wrote a – wrote an article about artillery-based maneuver in Korea that’s just something everybody in the Army should read, and surely everybody in the fires maneuver business. I’m sorry, what was your question again?

Dr. Karako: Oh, the trends –

Gen. Rainey: Oh, the defensive fires, yes. This is a recent thing for me, personally. And I don’t claim – I should have said it up front – I don’t claim to have the answers to everything. You know, I have more time to look at it and study it than most. It’s my job. I got phenomenal people helping me in and out of the government. But it appears – you know, three years, four years ago – when I was at CAC, I was the CAC commander. I was like, why the hell did they move the Air Defense School at Fort Sill? You know, because now I got to ship everything out to – you know, now we got to go – (laughs) – we got to go out to El Paso to shoot anything. I’m like, man, I wish that we had a do-over.

There was exactly the right thing to do. Dan Karbler and I used to just throw down, you know, about this. And he’s 100 percent right. You know, I’m like – you know, my basic theory was, you know, they painted the water tower so they had to make them one thing. But it’s absolutely merging together. And to be clear, the protection, warfighting function/system is not going to go away. So I’m not saying that you merge protection and fires. I’m talking about the air and missile defense, counter-UAS capability has to get back into our combined arms maneuver, all-arms maneuver formations, right now. We should do it as fast as we can.

And the reason is, is the speed of change and conflict and the size of the military. We’re not going to have the luxury of having two bespoke systems. So, like, for example, right now we have different – we have radars that do one or the other. We have mission command systems for both, neither of which is very good, and unnecessary when we move to data-centric warfare. We have different commanders. We have different staff sections. So it’s not about the effector. You know, like, figuring out how to get HIMARS to shoot down – you know, like, the fires stuff is the least of the problem. Having offensive and defense.

Now, if we’re going to modernize and make something new, it would be nice to build dual capability. But it’s not about the effect or shooter. It’s about everything else in those ecosystems, to include –

Dr. Karako: It’s formations.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, well, and the O, the organization, is something we need to look at. And especially the L, the leader development. You know, I don’t – I don’t think air defense branch and a fires branch – is just Jim Rainey. This isn’t let me freak out. It’s not an Army thing. I think we need to start looking at opportunities, is that – do we have that right? Is there a merger? Do we need to stratify in one way or another? Because, you know, it’s just becoming one thing. I mean, you can’t – you can’t – you can’t treat this different than this. If somebody shoots at you, you got to kill them.

To get to your question that, yeah, it’s – the UAS thing, it’s crazy. And 20 years’ worth of not really doing that, now we’re playing catch up. The good news is the technology’s there, we have capabilities. What you’re not seeing, and I don’t want to make light of it because it is a – it is the problem today in CENTCOM, it is the problem – if we go to war in the next, you know, 12 months it’s going to be a huge problem. But I’m a little more optimistic because what you’re not seeing is anybody execute joint, you know, combined arms maneuver, right? So if somebody was flying UAS’ at us, we would fight the UAS, but we would also be fighting wherever they came from, plus their maneuver force, plus bringing the joint force to bear.

So I’m a little more optimistic. You know, it’s hard to drop a quadcopter grenade into the turret of an M-1 tank when it’s coming at you 70 kilometers an hour with a couple hundred of its friends, and you’re on fire. You know, I mean, it’s just hard. So not to make light of it. It’s a big problem in the homeland and fixed site security protection. But high power microwave, directed energy, the right mix of kinetic and non-kinetic solutions is something that we’re – you know, it’s General – it’s one of General George’s absolute priorities.

Dr. Karako: Yeah. So I think what –

Gen. Rainey: And the secretary.

Dr. Karako: – what I’m hearing is that especially at the lower levels – what you are calling the air littoral – especially at that level with, you know, counter-battery fire and SHORAD and that kind of thing, that there is a lot of similarity, and that the FAA and the ADA commanders have got a lot more in common than perhaps with other parts of the Army – of big Army.

And so when you say merge, you know, what does that mean? Do you mean organizationally at the platform, at the institution? What does merge mean?

Gen. Rainey: Well, I think we need to experiment with it. So the good news is we’re on our way to putting air defense back into our maneuver formations. And I’m biased. Every single person in the Army is of the same value. They are not all of the same importance. And I believe that, you know, everybody exists to put that rifle squad, tank platoon, artillery battery – right?

So the Army I grew up in – infantry armor artillery, air defense artillery, engineers, combined arms, five-finger death punch, right, so we’ve got to get that back into our formations at echelon. There’s an element of counter-UAS that’s akin to, like, NBC, right? Like every soldier has a mask, has a protective suit, has some skill level 10 – you know, you’re supposed to be able to treat – you know, I should be able to treat you.

There’s individual skills that everybody needs to get back to, but we need to get back to air defense artillery as part of an organic part of our formations at echelon, and the sooner we do that, the better we’ll be because the material thing is important, but you have somewhere to land it, you have to have the school and TRADOC to send them to. You’ve got to have NCOs who used it when they were E-4s who know how to train. I mean, the Army is its best when we transform the right way. And the engineers I would put – you know, we haven’t exactly kept pace with engineer modernization, so that would be a close second.

The merger thing, I don’t know. I’ve asked – and General Brito is a phenomenal teammate and Beagle out there at CAX, one of the – one of the best guys we’ve got. We’ve got great leadership out at Fort Sill – you know, Phil Brooks, interestingly is an artillery guy who commanded an ABCT in the great 3rd Infantry Division when I was there, so I’ve got a lot of confidence in him.

They’re going to figure this out. I don’t know. I don’t think it’s a mash 13 and 14 together holistically. If it was me, I’d think there is – I think guys on cannons and guys doing SHORAD have more in common than guys do in SHORAD and guys figuring out Patriots. And Artillery Branch has always kind of been two separate tribes. You know, as an outsider, it has always kind of been the rocket guys and the FISTers, so maybe it’s – maybe it’s if you are in a division, there’s a hybrid, tactical, close-combat 13, 14.

And there are some things like the warrants. I mean, the warrants need to be experts at a thing, so I’m not arguing for holistic. I’m talking more about, you know, if you are platoon sergeant, you should be able to be a platoon sergeant in either one. If you are a good – if you are a – you know, we do it all the time. I’m an infantry guy. You go to the Rangers, you go to the 82nd, you go to the 1st Cav, you go to the 3rd ID. I mean, you’re either good or you’re not, and you can adapt to a couple different types of equipment.

Dr. Karako: Yeah. And you know, I think it’s –

Gen. Rainey: But I don’t know. We’ll figure it out, though.

Dr. Karako: – the MBTFs are doing a lot of experimentation on this front. You know, I’m struck, I think, as one of the MBTFs in the Pacific has a balloon platoon, so back to all domain sensing. You know, Army SMDC has a high-altitude office, right, so getting them up there for sensing, whether it be the high altitude or very high altitude. Any reaction on the demand signal for that?

Gen. Rainey: The Multi-Domain Task Force are leading our learning about the future war, so I’m super excited about it. I pay real close attention. It wasn’t my idea certainly; it really wasn’t an AFC. It was more from the General McConville level, leadership of the Army. General Flynn, who is phenomenal, has really leaned into it as part of his competition out there in the Pacific. And we’re learning a lot of formation that purpose-built, primarily for intel, designed to operate in all five domains with partners as part of a joint – and inherent part of the Joint Force.

And, yeah, their ability to employ long-range fires is wholly dependent on their ability to sense. And what we’re really learning is it’s not so much the sensing; it’s make sense, right? So with – the ubiquitous sensing thing works both ways, right? The amount of data that’s coming into a headquarters – so I, kind of tongue-in-cheek but only half kidding, say that we really don’t have a – we don’t really have a sensing problem, we have a – or we don’t have a data problem, we have a making sense of the data that’s coming in problem.

So whether it’s balloon, you know – I think the balloon things are fascinating – you know, solar powered UAVs that can fly for – I mean, it’s all interesting. I think there’s a – I personally think there is a Joint Force – you know, back to my earlier comments, you know. What Title 10 – you know, who is going to do it for the Joint Force, and then, you know, does the Army spend Army money on other services and responsibilities. So there’s a little bit of room for that, and it’s not that anybody is going anything wrong; it’s just a merging at a pace where, you know, the air-ground littoral, the coordinating altitude, low-earth orbit – you know, there’s a little bit of figuring stuff out.

Dr. Karako: Well, we would try to figure out –

Gen. Rainey: But I’m in favor of, you know, inundated censors that don’t give the enemy the takeaway. I’m certain that if we fight somebody good, we will not have unlimited access to space, for example.

Dr. Karako: Right, right.

Gen. Rainey: Whether somebody can take it away or not, I mean, that’s a different classification probably. But certainly, if I was training to go to war, I would be able to fight with, you know, degraded space, so those other kind of sensors would be really important.

Dr. Karako: So lots of discussion and attention to different kinds of unmanned systems – UGVs, you know, and you talked about human-machine teaming, so that was another function I wanted to have you kind of tease out. I think RCCTO is standing up some new efforts on the robot front, and this seems like the scouts and the pack mules of the future. What’s your thoughts?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, so I’m a huge proponent of human-machine integrated formations, so let me unpack that a little bit. I believe – you know, being a little critical of the Army, and I was part of it – you know, we were kind of going down a machines-replace-humans, and there’s all kinds of very valid concerns about autonomous machines, and the – back to my point about being a values-based military, the ethics of it.

But what I am a strong believer in is that it’s not about humans replacing machines, it’s how do you optimize the two so you get a better capability. So how do we take risk and move it from our humans, our most valuable asset, to machines, right, no blood for first contact. The technology absolutely exists today. You know, the enemy will get lucky once in a while, but we should not ever trade blood for first contact – whether it’s a minefield, an IED, the enemy laying in wait – so transfer risk to machines.

But even more important than that is then you optimize your humans for the things that only humans were ever going to do – the art of command, values-based decision making, curiosity, instincts. We’re not going to teach computers to do that. So how do you put them together?

And then, equally important is, you know, we buy stuff, but we fight formations, so how do we move to formation-based thinking? So this is perfect for that.

The RCCTO thing – RCCTO is awesome. Some of the best transformation successes we’ve had is RCCTO, so it’s not RCCTO doing HMI, it’s – I worked with Honorable Bush, and the secretary, and the chief. And Rob Rasch, the RCCTO director, is partnered with Ross Kaufman, my deputy; Rob Collins, who is Mr. Bush’s deputy; and Beagle, who is Brito’s deputy – so kind of those four three-stars are driving and working with the six and the two, so, you know, it’s a major effort for the Army.

We have platoons right now for infantry and armor. The commandants are working on what does an artillery battery look like, what does a ADA battery look like, what does an engineer company – and the idea is to take a platoon that’s the right combinations of robots, payloads, manned vehicles, humans, and take risk off of soldiers, and optimize – you know, because the battlefield is getting crazy, you know, like I had enough trouble in a turret in combat trying to kill everybody and talk to people in three different voices, right? That was before you got to worry about, you know, three-dimensional counter-UAS, and everything else. So it’s really about taking anything that doesn’t have to be done by the humans off them.

So I think it’s going to blow up. I think people are going to look back – the UAS thing, like I said, the problem today, it’s fascinating. I think what we are witnessing is the very leading edge of the major disruption of the land domain that’s going to be caused by machines. You know, go back, look at what the UAV did to the air domain, late 1990s, just craziness; maritime domain, ten years or so ago, major disruption.

Look what’s going on in the maritime domain now, you know. Ukraine is doing a pretty good job without a Navy. You know, what General Kurilla is doing over in CENTCOM – it’s crazy.

Physics – you know, land was last because of physics, which is also on my list of things that are probably not going to change fundamentally in the future. So it’s just – but technology is now getting to the point where it can actually have meaningful, significant disruption in the land domain, and we’d better be ahead of that. So five years from now, people are going to look back and say, yeah, that UAS thing in Ukraine, that was the leading edge of what is a monstrous disruption that is coming.

Dr. Karako: So, you know, a lot of the UAV stuff has been an instrument, a tool of infantry – very much so – but there have been some suggestions here in D.C. recently, some talk about a UAV branch for the Army, putting a new branch. Reactions on that?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, I fully support my chief’s answer, which was probably not yet. No, I don’t know. I mean, it’s early. Certainly, it’s too early for that. I think unmanned systems – unmanned aerial systems are going to come to bear at echelon, so I think individual soldiers being able to employ them just like they employ their weapon, so Eleven Bravos, you know. I think the tanks, you know, they should be able to have a robot sitting next to them that can launch UAS. So I think it’s every maneuver person that’s going to need them. They have huge sustainment implications.

And then as far as formations go, you know, we do have – we do have formations here, and we have a UAV platoon – probably not big enough – we have BCTs, we have Gray Eagle companies in our divisions – not big enough, not enough. We have a 15 Series – several 15 Series MOSes for enlisted soldiers and warrant officers that are our UAV specialists. So I don’t know that it’s going to, you know, warrant its own branch, and certainly I’d say it’s too soon for that.

The bigger thing is getting UAVs into our formation at echelon right now so we can train. You know, our chief is a hundred percent – I would do it even if I didn’t agree with him obviously – but I a hundred percent agree that we need to get UAVs into our formations now for the leader development, get our soldiers used to doing them.

We have good requirements and good acquisition approaches for UAVs at echelon. We need to stop buying a thing and buy a capability, right?

Dr. Karako: Well, a capability is – here’s a question that has come in. A capability in terms of teaming is – this person asks could you give us an update on how the IVAS – the Integrated Visual Augmentation System is doing, and kind what is the plan forward on that?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, so – yeah, Mr. Bush and I testified about this. IVAS is a potential 10X, you know, upgrade, so it was worth pursuing. You know, if it was a little bit better than night vision, I would probably not be as open to it, as big a fan as I am. But the potential for our most important formations – our rifle squads, our light infantrymen – to be able to achieve a 10X advantage, but through situation awareness and understanding, plus the ability to train with it, plus the ability to rehearse with it, do AARs, so that the potential is very much worth pursuing and, you know, we’ve had some progress. We have a – we’re getting our hands on 1.2, which is the next version coming in. It’s going to go to our soldiers this summer. We’re going to give it a thorough workout to make sure it’s something that we want, and then there will be a big decision point on the acquisition side for the chief and secretary, Mr. Bush.

Dr. Karako: Well, I think if we could shift to logistics, another question that has come in – this is from a Hill staffer – that talks about the new CFT Contested Logistics. As they expand their role and issue RFIs for things like a 1-ton cargo UAS, how is the CFT, how is AFC leveraging best practices from existing ongoing efforts within the Army, such as the Virginia National Guard’s Advanced Mobility Initiative?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah.

Dr. Karako: I don’t know what that is, but I – (laughs) –

Gen. Rainey: No, neither do I, but I’ll have somebody take a note and check into it today – I should.

Dr. Karako: Ok.

Gen. Rainey: But the – yeah, so autonomous and robotic – so one, we’ve got a problem with contested logistics. You know, the Pacific Ocean is really big, it’s far away. The Army, one of our superpowers and one of the things that we do for the Joint Force that is most valuable is we sustain, you know, Title 10 responsibility to sustain the Joint Force, and I don’t know if I really like that contested logistics. That’s a term – you know, my understanding is logistics has always been contested, and it’s hard even when it’s not contested.

But taking advantage of other innovation that’s happening, especially in the commercial industry, but the opportunities to move to autonomous and robotic applications, so instead of having a bunch of big watercraft that have a brigade worth of equipment on it, can we get to fewer vehicles, mostly autonomous that disperse that threat and can cause bigger problems.

The robotic implications are all over the place in industry. If you look at the offshore oil industry, if you look at, you know, the way – I won’t name companies – but the big, successful companies operate, so we’re pursuing that very aggressively. That’s what the RFIs – there are UAVs that are lifting, you know, MILVANs, containers off of aircraft that industry figured out, during COVID when they had – you know, necessity is the mother of invention. We need to get into heavy lift autonomous shipping.

The other big things they are working on is predictive logistics. I don’t own a Tesla. My neighbor does. You know, the amount of stuff – down there in Austin, you know, everybody has got them. But, you know, like, that car, like tells the owner things. It tells Tesla things. It feeds data, you know, like that is not new technology, but a tank, in a Bradley, you’re still pretty much – got a guy on a radio, or somebody hitting the keyboard. So how do we very quick – and I’m not wanting to reintegrate, reinvent a turret, but how do we quickly get the data that is knowable inside our combat systems off of it and into a way so that when our logisticians do run a convoy, they’re pushing exactly what’s needed, not anything less or anything more.

And then there’s a whole demand reduction, you know. If you want to – if you want to solve the logistics problem, one of the best ways to do it is to reduce the amount of stuff that you have to move, so hybrid engines, alternative batteries, alternative fuel supplies. That’s where that contested logistics –

Dr. Karako: Let me – let me – let me come back –

Gen. Rainey: But I’ll backcheck into the Virginia one. Thanks to you for the question.

Dr. Karako: (Laughs.) Let me come back to you on the autonomous things make logistics easier because – perhaps in some respects, but might they also create a strain on logistics? Those things have to be refueled.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah.

Dr. Karako: They’ve got to be rearmed. They’ve got to be protected so that they don’t get captured – you know, whether it’s a USV or a UGV.

Gen. Rainey: Yeah, I don’t – if I said easier, I meant, you know, more effective. It’s the loss of life and equipment that argues for dispersion more to me, and – no, like that’s one of the myths that moved into human-machine integrated formations that’s somehow going to allow us to have a smaller military. You’re just transferring – you know, somebody’s got to maintain it. You’re just getting them out of the rifle platoons and tank companies that are doing the fighting, but you’re going to have to have the backside support.

I don’t think it will be growth, by any means, and I think we can get better, smaller effective formations, but not in the aggregate. No, it’s about – it’s about risk – you know, risk avoidance more than it is about being easier. It would obviously be complicated.

But I’m telling you, if you look at what industry can do, you know – go down to a modern port in the U.S. right now and look at that vice how, if we went to war in Europe or the Pacific, how we would operate, I think. And this is true to any U.S. industry of any type. You know, I’ve – in 18 month in AFC, I’ve not asked somebody to help us and been told anything other than yeah, absolutely, how can we help. So I think leaning into that was my main point.

Dr. Karako: Well, on the first point, I’m reminded that the – it took a not insignificant part of the Army to feed and maintain horses and pack mules in the past.

And then, on the industry side, what you just commented there, OK, so what do you want to see from industry? What do you want to hear from industry in terms of making things better? And I would say – I would add to that you frequently hear military and DOD say, go faster, do better, make it cheaper, and all those sort of things. But DOD is ultimately the monopsony here, and DOD is ultimately the customer. So how can industry and DOD do better to work together?

Gen. Rainey: Yeah. So the number one thing I would ask for for industry is patience. Stick with us. We cannot lose, you know, our technological advantage in the U.S. as a superpower. I personally think it’s as much of an instrument of national power as the rest of the dime. It’s one of the places we still have a marked advantage over anybody we’re going to fight.

And what I worry about is some – you know, again, staying away from specific companies – there are some companies, some of the best companies in the tech space are dual-use companies, so it’s even more dangerous than some of the ones that are more traditional defense, and they’re – you know, we absolutely need them also. But what I worry about is a company that we need, that can make all the money they need to make, you know, and can turn away commercial business sticking with the department.

We’re getting better at it. There’s a clear understanding we need to go faster. You know, PPBE Reform Commission, you know, I interact with members of Congress. They understand that we need to – we need to fix some stuff.

As far as inside the department, it’s everybody. I mean, it starts with me – I’m the requirements guy. We’ve got to move to capability-based requirements and quit trying to, you know, write a 50-page document that says I need this, this, and this, which does one of two things. It either closes you out to innovation that you don’t know about, or gets you exactly what you wanted that’s OBE by the time you get it. So the characteristic of need statement for next generation command and control that we just posted to – 2 ½ pages of what we are – what we desire from our network that will unlock industry, so moving to capability-based requirements – that’s on me.

Acquisition. You know, I don’t bag on the acquisition community. They do what they are told, you know. They go out and acquire the requirement. I think I’d put the Army people up against anybody – Mr. Bush’s leadership – but we’ve got to go faster in the acquisition space.

Fiscal – I’m sorry; I got a long answer on this one –

Dr. Karako: Go for it.

Gen. Rainey: – because it’s a complicated problem.

Fiscal agility. You know, whether we have enough money or not, we have the money we have. But the ability to move it in the year of execution inside the PB – if you ask me what, you know – AFC, what do we want in ’24 and ’25, I could give you great clarity, great specificity. Almost impossible to move money. If you said, what do you want in 2030, I’d say, well, you know, you can start at ACAT 1. We’re POM-ing out there. It’s in make-believe land. You can start new programs. No idea what we want, you know, with some exceptions. I know I want a new tank, a new infantry fighting vehicle, best rifle squad ever. But generally speaking, you know, when you can move money, you don’t know the requirement; when you understand the requirement, you can’t move money. We got to fix that.

Contracting. We got the best contractors in the world; it’s not the humans. You look at something like COVID, they basically saved the country. They can go as fast as they have to, but there aren’t enough of them. And they need to be embedded in the people trying to transform.

Testing, the whole testing enterprise. Again, great people doing what they’re told by law, but you know, we can’t test software the same way we test chemical protective equipment. We can’t test an unmanned UAV to the same standards we test a helicopter. You know, I could go on and on. And there’s probably a few others.

Industry. The idea of the big, big, you know, integrator that’s going to make a bunch of – you know, I think we need to reimagine that. I think there’s an opportunity for the best companies to self-organize in a way that brings to bear and unlocks the best capabilities of our companies. I think we’re going to see that start to happen more. So a bunch of opportunities inside the department.

Dr. Karako: And I was just going to react – so much of that acquisition process would appear to be exactly what Project Replicator is aimed at, and ultimately making the acquisition cycle more agile.

So we’ve covered a lot of ground. In terms of kind of the future of futures, looking forward, you mentioned, you know, if you want a new idea, go read an old book. What are the – what are the articles and the books that you’ve found informative and useful for your thinking? What would you like people to be reading to be thinking different thoughts, as well – could be something old, could be something new.

Gen. Rainey: Well, I’d like them to be reading and be students, you know, in general. There is so much to do. Origins of Victory, Andrew Krepinevich’s book, is the best – one of the best things I’ve read lately. Jack Watling, who is a RUSI guy, who did – “The Future of Arms” (sic; “The Arms of the Future”) I think is the name of the book. He was just down at AFC. I read his book and paid for him to come do an LPD, if that’s any endorsement there.

Freedom’s Forge – some of you people that were in the Army last time we were worried about this, but Freedom’s Forge is a book that tells the story of, really, a couple years before World War II, how this country brought its superpower to bear. And it’s not the defense industrial base; I would offer it’s the American industrial base that we needed last time, and we’re going to need next time. You know, it wasn’t big defense companies necessarily; it was RCA, and GM, and GE, and Ford. So that book has a lot of application for what I believe will be the next time that we fight.

And then I’m re-reading an all-time classic called Military Misfortunes, Cohen and Gooch. It’s a – it’s an analysis of why militaries fail, and it’s history, and it’s failure to learn, and failure to adapt. So it’s kind of got a strong, strong argument for the importance of learning and understanding what you are dealing with.

Dr. Karako: Great.

Gen. Rainey: There’s a few.

Dr. Karako: Well, thank you very much, sir. This has been a tremendous tour de force covering all this ground, and please join me in thanking General Rainey for his time. (Applause.)