“I am committed to improving the combat preparedness, lethality, survivability and resiliency of our nation’s ground close-combat formations. These formations have historically accounted for almost 90% of our casualties and yet our personnel policies, advances in training methods and equipment have not kept pace with changes in available technology, human factors science and talent management best practices.”
James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense, 8 February 2018
The U.S. Army and DoD are long overdue in addressing a significant capability and survivability shortcoming in its most fundamental formation — the infantry squad.
Traditional training methods will never adequately prepare a close combat soldier for the horrific shock of his first time under fire. Thus a first priority of the Task Force is to develop small unit simulations that replicate the shock, uncertainty, chaos and fear of the close fight. The team is well along in creating place virtual environments enhanced by augmented reality technologies, immersing infantrymen inside simulations that offer the repetition with variation, scenario after stressful scenario with new surprises each time, a truly transformational training experience.
To prevail against near-peer threats in the increasingly lethal 21st-century security environment, the United States requires a military that is dominant in close-combat fighting. (Close combat is “ground combat executed by dismounted infantry squad-sized formations carried out within line of sight of the enemy and characterized by extreme violence.”) This resilience only will be possible if the nation and its military keep faith with those who volunteer to fight, and perhaps die, in the most lethal 600 meters on the battlefield.
It is time for the United States to shoot for the next level: overmatch. (Close-combat overmatch is “the ability of a squad-sized unit to impose its will on a similar sized opponent under all conditions and operational environments.”) Changes in available technology, human factors science and talent management best practices make it imperative to modernize personnel policies, training methods and equipment at the speed of relevance to the challenges ahead.
War will remain a violent human struggle, a “collision between two living forces,” that is governed—and has always been governed—by the interplay among passion, chance and reason. This struggle will have at its core, soldiers fighting, killing and dying in close proximity to their enemies; this is the domain of the infantry.
Secretary Mattis has said infantrymen must fight "25 bloodless battles" before they first see combat.
The task force “is currently seeking to identify best-of-breed science and programs that improve screening, assessment, combat aggressiveness, situational understanding and proper decision-making under extreme stress...”
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