Army Futures Command Team Ignite Program
It is undisputable that one of the ways that America established its post-World War II dominance was through employing the best and brightest to look into future advances in technology and strategy in order to equip the warfighter with the tools needed to solve future problems. One recent development was the establishment of the U.S. Army Futures Command in 2018, whose mission is to modernize the army for future fights. One way the Army Futures Command is doing this is through its “Team Ignite,” project, a group that utilizes data and machine learning to prepare for potential conflicts and technologies decades into the future. What is unique about this program is how it seeks to make predictions decades into the future about not just what American military capabilities and advances will be, but also about what our competitors will be focused on through using statistical methods and predictive modeling rather than conventional policy predictions. For example, the U.S. Army Futures Command is creating an upcoming report about how maneuvering forces around the battlespace will change over time due to technological advancement. Col. Rory Crooks, a member of the team, stated, “We’re drilling down into the character of maneuver. We’re considering things like cognitive maneuver that we haven’t considered before…What happens in the information environment, for example, it can have measurable impacts in terms of your freedom of action.” This demonstrates how the project is researching how advances in the burgeoning fields of space and cyber defense policy will affect the warfighter in the long-term future.
Team Ignite is also interesting in that its mission is to systematically and collaboratively organize the concept of technological and scientific innovation. While previous research and development projects have been pursued independently by various offices and defense experts, Team Ignite aims, “to lead a systematic, continuous, iterative process of shaping concepts and capabilities for future warfighting…[and] rather than conduct research and concept development independently, Team Ignite establishes processes to spur scientifically-informed concepts and warfighter-informed science,” through quantifying interdependent ideas. This focus on metrics works to ensure the application of analytical rigor to the projects Team Ignites undertakes and promotes efficiency and demonstrable improvements in capability. Commonly used metrics also allow for the implementation of a standardized language to be used in regard to research and development, enabling a widespread focus on a common mission. This focus on interdependency also presents an opportunity for industry to be involved in the development of best practices and technology road mapping. Lastly, the focus on enhanced communications between different programs and stakeholders will allow for mutually reinforcing dialogue that can identify common themes as well as vulnerable areas. Team Ignite represents the focus of the U.S. Army and military as a whole on preparing for the conflicts of the future and leveraging available technological and scientific advancements in order to better equip the future warfighter.