Future of Operational Environment

Introduction

It can be argued that the operations of the Army are affected by several environmental factors. These components are the diplomatic relations with other states, technological advancements, economic situation, and others. Army leaders should study anticipated changes that may affect their operational activity in the future to command efficiently and respond to potential threats. This paper aims to examine the future operational environment of the army and research its influence on the soldiers, leaders, and small teams across military operations necessary to achieve overmatch.

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Prior to studying the overmatch possibilities, it is necessary to define aspects that would affect the army. Future of Operational Environment (FOE) is a term that describes uncertainties, which from the perspective of military leadership can consist of newly emerged threats, urbanization, mass destruction weapons, natural disasters, or limited resources (Simsek, 2015). Thus, the notion of FOE can be perceived as a derivative from the operational environment, because to create a strategy for FOE an army leader must anticipate particular events that will affect a state.

Within the US Army, the operational process is designed in the form of a framework. According to the Headquarters, Department of the Army (2012) report, it is a cycle that includes the planning, preparation, execution, and assessment of results in regards to a specific operation. It is carried out through cooperation between commanders and their staff members. More specifically, the commander administers the process while personnel assists him or her in assessing information and interpreting it to make essential decisions (Headquarters, Department of the Army, 2012). Similar procedures would be carried out within FOE because they would require cooperation between leaders, small teams, and soldiers.

The army has to be ready to adapt and respond to complex challenges. According to Simsek (2015), military leaders should be prepared to address the issues of changing environments and new missions. Moreover, emerging battlefield conditions present a need to deal with conflicts that have unique characteristics and adapt to new circumstances. For instance, the development of technology requires tactics that would enable the army to respond to potential threats adequately.

Both strategic and future of operational environment are complex matters that consist of various layers. An understanding of these components, as well as knowledge of necessary conditions, is required to measure the impact of FOE on leaders and team members.

The All Partners Access Network (APAN) provides a prognosis that predicts challenges for the US army in 2028. According to the organization “conflict, post-conflict/failed state, humanitarian, disaster relief, and support and reconstruction operations will occur simultaneously” (All Partners Access Network (APAN), n.d., para. 10). The units will have to be prepared to act decisively and carry out several operations at once. One factor that should be considered is the importance of operation with civilian organizations to ensure efficiency.

Thus, the Army will have to work with non-governmental establishments, private institutions, and humanitarian organizations. Additionally, according to All Partners Access Network (APAN) (n.d.), “several extremist organizations are known to be seeking a weapon of mass distraction (WMD) capabilities,” both nuclear and biological. (para. 15). This will affect both the soldiers and their leaders because they will have to incorporate various approaches to cooperation into their practice.

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The rapid development of information technology is among the essential factors that the army should consider. It is due to the fact that emerged technology will provide new means of communication between leaders and their teams, units, or individual soldiers. Moreover, the operations are likely to become more extensive and dramatic (Army University Press, 2018). The timeframe for the battles is expected to decrease due to technology as well, which can be enabled through the use of artificial intelligence and similar approaches.

Achieving Overmatch

Considering the environmental changes mentioned above it can be argued that the character of warfare will be transformed as well. A change in the leadership approach will be required to achieve an overmatch across all components. Simsek (2015) states that “tactical level leadership or in other words direct leadership can be called as frontline leadership that starts from squad level leaders” (p. 2313). Thus, it is essential to incorporate individuals from all levels to successfully adapt to the potential challenges.

Headquarters, Department of the Army presented an ATP 3-60 manual, which focuses on the specifics of targeting as the primary component of any military operation. The guidelines state that “for joint agencies to coordinate targeting functions properly, they must be able to exchange information by using a common frame of reference regarding the operational area” (Headquarters, Department of the Army, 2015, p. 10). Thus, within current processes proper coordination of efforts, which in FOE is going to include various technological advancements. Additionally, the process of targeting can be enhanced through the use of artificial intelligence.

The organizational structure is likely to adapt to FOE and specific environmental challenges. According to Headquarters, Department of the Army, (2016a) currently the army components are organized into two sections – command posts and command cells. The directive emphasizes the importance of cooperation between the mentioned units for successful operations and overmatch. When arranging these units leaders must consider efficiency and survivability.

Additionally, the Headquarters, Department of the Army (2016b) provides guidelines for organizing specific teams dedicated to brigade combats. In it, coordination is cited as the most critical factor for success. Within FOA new ways of cooperating between soldiers will emerge, however, the basic principles should remain unchanged.

It can be argued that FOE involves cooperation with other states to achieve an overmatch over an enemy. Army University Press (2018) predicts that most operations will be multidomain, resulting in several units combining their forces to achieve overmatch. While the concept is not new, considering FOE factors the approaches to cooperation will differ. Thus, the soldiers will have to participate in various operations globally while their leaders would have to negotiate terms and responsibilities. According to the Army University Press (2018), such operations aim to achieve specific goals, as opposed to maintaining a particular state of things.

The notion of multidomain activities involves space and cyber components as new battlegrounds. Thus, distinct teams will have to be created to ensure that these fields are safe. The soldiers will require training tailored to these domains, while army leaders will have to guide the operations. Thus, an adaptation to the emerging environmental concerns is needed.

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The primary approach to achieve overmatch is to ensure that the US Army develops technological advancements and trains the staff members to be prepared to apply those in practice. This requires a specific leadership approach that would foster learning within smaller units. It can be argued that because the nature of battles will alter, the decision-making process for the army leaders and the execution of orders for small teams and soldiers will change dramatically.

As was previously mentioned, technology such as artificial intelligence and new approaches to communication are going to affect the cooperation within the army units. According to Leipold (2015), the establishment should focus on investing in innovation to ensure an overmatch over the enemies. Within this framework, possible threats from the state, non-state, and hybrid actors have to be considered.

Approaches such as “electronic warfare cyber skills and unmanned aircraft systems” are already applied by the US army and should be further developed (Leipold, 2015, para. 10). Although the state has created various technological advancements its potential enemies strive to emulate the mentioned devices. Thus, the FOE will require army leaders to focus their attention on technology to ensure an overmatch.

It can be argued that considering factors that influence FOE the army leaders would have to develop new strategies to coordinate the army’s operations. These approaches have to be tailored to achieving overmatch through technology and within a multidomain dimension. In regards to the soldiers, it can be concluded that further learning will be required to use technological advancements successfully. Furthermore, the army will have to create new team structures dedicated to responding to space and cyber threats.

Conclusion

Overall, it can be concluded that FOE will provide both new opportunities and challenges for the army’s operations. The current operational environment of the US army implies cooperation between leaders and teams for overmatch achievement. The primary concern that should guide the adaptation to FOE is a technology and its development. Additionally, multidomain operations will become more common, leading to a necessity of training soldiers and creating units that can respond to these challenges.

References

All Partners Access Network (APAN). (n.d.). TRADOC G2’s future operational environment and trends. Web.

Army University Press (2018). New extended battlefield: The future of War. Web.

Headquarters, Department of the Army. (2015). Targeting (ATP 3-16, FM 3-60). Web.

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Headquarters, Department of the Army. (2012). The operations process (ADP 5-0). Web.

Headquarters, Department of the Army. (2016a). Commander and staff organization of operations (FM 6-0, C2). Web.

Headquarters, Department of the Army. (2016b). Fire support for the brigade combat team (ATP 3.09-42). Web.

Leipold, J. D. (2015). Innovation, technology keys to Army maintaining ‘overmatch.’ US Army. Web.

Simsek, M. (2015). Leadership in future operational environment. International Journal of Computer and Systems Engineering, 9(7), 2313-2317.

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"Future of Operational Environment." StudyCorgi, 17 June 2021, studycorgi.com/future-of-operational-environment/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Future of Operational Environment." June 17, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/future-of-operational-environment/.

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