Joint Armaments Robotics and Munitions Conference Raises Important Issues
Introducing new technology to ground combat units has always been a challenge. The military tends to prepare for technology to fail in combat, leaving the battle to be won by the will of the warfighter. With tensions rising and great power competition revving up; the military, industry, and government need to work in unison to bridge this gap in order to provide the warfighter the best capabilities and advantages in peer to peer or near peer combat. NDIA’s Joint Armaments, Robotics, and Munitions Conference brought together leaders from the military, industry, and government to address these concerns.
During military engagements in the Middle East, the Army relied heavily on its Brigade Combat Teams (BCT’s), using the Division elements in a supporting role against counter insurgency operations. Major General Patrick Donahoe, Commanding General, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence mentioned in his opening remarks that the Army will be going back to a more traditional structure and intends to focus on strengthening the Division level. Tanks, field artillery, and calvary units will be featured in a joint effort with infantry and will utilize the latest technology in robotics, armaments, and munitions in a modern-day battlefield. The goal of this strategy is to embed more technology such as robots, drones, and unmanned vehicles to scout ahead in order to initiate contact with the enemy and allow for ground troops to maneuver as necessary to seize the objective from the enemy.
Developing new technology and evaluating existing systems is evident across all branches of the military. The Navy is working to prioritize, plan, and prepare its Joint Bomb Program to upgrade its general purpose and penetrator bombs as well as modernizing ammunition and small arms used on ships in counter unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The Marines will align with the joint strategy for small arms weapon modernization to improve accuracy, lethality, and mobility. The Air Force has shifted its focus to digital acquisition and sustainment to include IT and toolsets required to bring engineering to the ammunition enterprise and well as an agile acquisition office to increase the agility of working with industry.
The military cannot develop new, agile, and technically advanced systems all on its own. A strong relationship between government and industry will be essential to meeting the goals and initiatives discussed during NDIA’s Joint Armaments, Robotics, and Munitions Digital Conference. Increasing acquisition tempo, keeping a secure network, and staying agile enough to meet Futures Command requirements are all recommendations from the military to industry. To assist industry, government has developed the Innovative Designs & Engineering Assessment (IDEA) Program. The IDEA program is an opportunity for industry to submit innovative ideas and technologies for government to assess. Link to the IDEA program here.
NDIA’s Joint Armaments, Robotics, and Munitions Digital Conference also brought together industry leaders to discuss supply chain challenges and lessons learned from COVID-19. The panel recommended to develop a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) focused on impact relative to the disruption of a workforce. BCP’s should have a steering team that is activated and supported by diverse functional areas and to confirm and understand the stability of your supply chain.
The Joint Armaments, Robotics, and Munitions Digital Conference successfully provided a platform for industry and government to communicate and work towards equipping warfighters with the best weapons and technology necessary to combat future adversaries. NDIA is looking forward to watching the partnership between government and industry grow to provide the best technology and weapons capabilities to allow our warfighters to seize objectives from and dominate the enemy in combat.