Gen. James McConville, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, defined ‘Convergence’ as the importance of not so much “speed and range”, but “speed and lethality” for an Army that has to be fit and ready to take on competition in a Great Power strategic environment. The heart of this effort is the collection of concepts and systems formerly known as Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2). The “C” at the front of CJADC2 now stands for ‘Combined’, and it is a testament to our allies’ recognition and in some instances allied contributions of the vital importance of advanced networked warfare, as well as their willingness to partake in this monumental effort to connect the forces, so as to achieve maximum effects during multi-domain operations in a high-end conflict scenario. That “C” in CJADC2 is linked to the vital security of NATO’s future.
In the future of competition and conflict, the side that wins will not be the one with the most advanced hardware or with the numerical advantage; the winner will be the one who best organizes and connects its offensive and defensive systems with accurate, timely information, that allows for speed, lethality, range, and precision – all of which will support the fastest decision being the best decision at the right authority level the fastest. Earlier this week, GEN James C. McConville demonstrated his commitment to solidifying the Army’s air and missile defenses as a key role in the CJADC2 concept stating: “There is a bright future for air and missile defense, but it’ll be across a spectrum that will deal with lots of problems, but at the end of the day it is all about Project Convergence.” This is what the Army’s ‘Project Convergence’ is all about, and must be and will be put to the combined test, with allies and partnered nations.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is encouraging NATO allies to “fulfill the 2014 Wales Summit Defense Investment Pledge” with the goal of modernizing NATO militaries writ large, and of ensuring sufficient resources to face the challenges ahead. This statement puts forward to the NATO allies the challenge that Europe’s security is the responsibility of all within the alliance, big and small. The main rival to NATO’s deterrent value is the Russian Federation. Going forward it cannot be just the NATO countries that border Russia and the United States, that shoulder the burden of this deterrent, as they largely do today; all NATO members must modernize and contribute to the security of Europe. Successfully deterring Russia and reassuring our allies of our commitment, while incentivizing their burden-sharing, will require more than increased spending, meeting an agreed-upon minimum threshold, or approaching force development traditionally. There has to be increased integration and comprehensive planning, as current NATO wargaming is often tailored to specific scenarios, and lacks a bigger picture for fear of poking the Russian Bear. This week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin discussed the requirement to maintain ready forces and capabilities to both support ongoing NATO operations and to respond immediately to an emerging crisis.
The signing of New START’s extension does not end the grave missile threat posed by Russia to the United States and our allies. The treaty does signify an important step in negotiating strategic stability, if it is verified and the Russian’s adhere to it, in a new era when limitations such as those of the extinct INF Treaty no longer apply. New START does little to hinder the deployment of conventional hypersonic weapons, tactical nuclear delivery vehicles, or malign Russian capabilities in Space. New START does not apply to China, the most formidable threat to the United States and the world, which President Biden prioritized this month with the creation of a DoD-wide China Task Force. The United States and its NATO allies must ensure the defense of Europe, and ensure that our extended deterrence guarantees are viewed as credible, capable, and collective. Stability in the European theater is a must, and it is persistently challenged by the Russian Federation and its new ways of gray-zone fighting, A2/AD strategies, and its malicious cyber activities.
In the air & missile defense (AMD) spectrum, the United States must move ahead to put the “C” in an converged, complete, combined, joint, integrated, multi-domain, live-fire air & missile defense exercise that is comprehensive enough to face the reality of the threat, with the entirety of NATO members. All services participate in multiple exercises annually and some are multinational. Currently, the United States and its NATO allies have capable, but capacity limited, non-interoperable, disjointed missile defense systems, with fractured Command & Control, insufficient cruise missile defense capacity, and a lack of fully-integrated training experience, with most countries focusing on their individual defense rather than that of the alliance overall; a drastic change is required. A NATO-wide training exercise once every two years addresses the gaps and shortcomings of the current systems, enabling resourcing for healthy updating, growth, and dominance of the air & missile defense network going forward. This infrastructure, leadership and command and control exists today in the form of NATO Air Command. This can be accomplished by leveraging this C2 node and developing NATO level exercises managed at the highest NATO level focused on interoperability and command and control at echelon.
Plans and exercises with full increasing levels of integration will bring credibility in the readiness of NATO allies, and a renewed U.S. commitment to collective defense and deterrence. Integrated Air & Missile Defense (IAMD) will become an invaluable tool and system for combined convergence. A defensive sensor-to-shooter optimization and fires-control architecture will be nested with long-range precision fires and effects, to provide a credible offense against Russian overmatch, in terms of ranges and modernization, enabling the combined, joint force to defend itself and bring forward its power. The threat is real, NATO’s commitment today is not credible enough to be real.
The “C” is Commitment, and it must come to fruition before Combined can be put in place. Commitment alone is bold, Commitment Combined with Conviction and Competence to create Convergence is relentless and invincible.