The U.S. military is set to publish new doctrine in July, and its top officer expressed confidence that a new Joint Futures organization will be set up to help drive modernization over the long term.
The Pentagon recently published its Joint Warfighting Concept 3.0.
“That is now at a mature enough state, we think anyway, to be turned into doctrine,” Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, said Friday during remarks at the National Press Club.
“Doctrine is important because it will help clarify and inform all the various levels of the organization on how you plan to fight. And then there’ll be subordinate doctrines that come out of each of the services that support the joint doctrine, etc. So Joint Pub[lication] 1 will come out next month. And that’ll start us on a journey. It’ll probably take two years or so for all the other documents to catch up so that we clearly establish the doctrine on how to fight,” he said.
But a new organization is also needed to support modernization, he suggested.
A J-7 cross-functional team within the Joint Staff, led by Maj. Gen. Patrick Gaydon, has already been established to explore options for creating a new “Joint Futures” organization.
Milley on Friday described the cross-functional team as the “embryonic beginning of a larger organization.”
“That organization will help drive these [doctrinal] concepts, but also the technologies and describing the operational environment that we’re moving into, and so on. So, it is in the works, it’s happening. It’s a long-term effort. I’m quite confident that whoever replaces me will carry that forward. It has [Defense] Secretary [Lloyd] Austin’s support. And I think it’s the right thing to do. And I think we also have support up on the Hill. So I think that’ll move out,” Milley said.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown Jr. — a strong advocate for military modernization and taking new cross-service approaches to defense problems — has been nominated by President Biden to succeed Milley as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but he’s yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
When he was chief of staff of the Army prior to being promoted to his current role as chairman of the JCS, Milley established Army Futures Command to help spearhead the service’s top modernization efforts.
If it’s fully realized, the new “Joint Futures” organization could end up being a unified command, a new agency, a fresh office within the Defense Department, or some other entity, Gaydon told DefenseScoop last month during an interview at the Pentagon to discuss his team’s activities.
“Every option is still on the table,” he said.
Milley emphasized the need to stay ahead of the curve as emerging technologies mature, such as unmanned systems. In the next 10 to 15 years, about one-third of the forces of the world’s most advanced militaries will be robotic, he predicted.
But the biggest changes in warfare could come from the rapid onset of artificial intelligence, and quantum computing, according to Milley.
“We will be able to see ourselves and see the enemy in much more significant ways than we can now. In fact, I would suggest that the combination of those two technologies alone would spell a tremendous change in the character of war,” he said. “Artificial intelligence will be able to process complex information at speeds that no human mind can match. So our task, the United States’ task is for our military … to maintain our current decisive advantage, our lethality, our readiness, our competence, by optimizing these technologies for the conduct of war. And we do this not to conduct war, but to deter great power war.”