The Twin Transformation of U.S. and Allied Forces: Distributed and Autonomous System Enabled

By Robbin Laird

The strategic shift from the land wars to the focus on the high-end fight has meant a significant change of focus for U.S. and allied forces.

To enhance survivability, these forces need to distribute.

To deliver significant lethality, they need to be able to deploy at the areas of interest with the speed and combat capability required.

To do any of this, signature management, the reduction of the signature of the force, is required.

And underlying such a shift is logistical capability.

As LtGen Heckl, the head of the USMC Combat Development Command, put it in an interview with me: “The pacing factor for everything we are doing in shaping the distributed force is logistics and to do so in a contested environment. We are focused on our ability to move ourselves organically”

In addition to being able to operate as a distributed force, force enhancement and force multipliers are increasingly associated with various air and maritime autonomous systems.

Those distributed forces are taking their organic C2 and ISR capability with them and it is being provided by various autonomous platforms carrying the relevant payloads to deliver the desired capability.

Underlying all of this is something most people don’t think much about.

How do you package the material you are taking with a distributed force which needs to carry the relevant autonomous kit and to do so with a reduced signature footprint?

Recently, I talked with Mario Federle of DESAPRO and he is based in Melbourne, Florida.

He is a former German Army officer, now head of engineering at DESAPRO.

The company builds aluminum-based casing for military products, and they are finding an upsurge in interest in their products as the U.S. and allied militaries go through the strategic shift which I have highlighted here.

I asked him to describe how they work with a customer to deliver a customized capability. He described the process as working with a customer who is supporting an end user. They then design a case to fit the deployment needs of the customer.

And when we discussed building casing for drones, the significant advantage of the approach became clear.

He noted: “We focus on how the user will assemble the drone in the field and built the container to facilitate the user’s ability to assemble the drone in the most effective manner possible.”

This is crucial to signature management as well, for one is able to reduce the time from assembly to use of the drone for whatever the mission is.

Clearly, logistics is a pacing function for the strategic transition.

It is just important than one includes how to package what is being transported for rapid and effective assembly in the field.

Customized rugged but light packaging for drones being transported to the point of interest.

On the strategic shift in the U.S. and allied militaries associated wtih the shfit from the land wars to the high end fight, see the following: