Why is the Army acquiring long-range Precision Strike Missile when the Navy can launch a Tomahawk land-attack missile from the ocean at land targets up to nine hundred miles away and Air Force bombers can fire air-launched cruise missiles against fortified ground targets at great distances?
Recently, Army leaders have had to answer questions about the expense of new weapons systems. Its most senior members explained that it was crucial for the Army to have weapons systems that can complement or pick up missions for similar weapons systems employed by other services.
“When I look at the battlefield, whether it is potentially in Indo-PACOM or whether it is in Europe, there are going to be more than enough targets to shoot at for the whole joint force. All of us need to be looking at how we can bring long-range Precision Fires capabilities. It is not something that should be left to just one service,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told reporters, according to an Army transcript.
Wormuth cited the complexities and interwoven, multi-domain challenges associated with the current global threat environment. She noted that commanders need multiple options when participating in joint operations. Perhaps a Navy submarine or ship might not be in a position to fire upon or reach a highly crucial enemy target such as inland air defenses. Perhaps advanced air defenses cannot prevent aircraft from flying within range to attack? What if sea and air assets are not in a position to reach a target that advancing armored forces need to see destroyed at safer stand-off distances? Or perhaps, as Wormuth suggested, there are simply so many targets emerging that not having long-range land-attack options could greatly imperil a mission. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville has noted that the military wants to present multiple “dilemmas” for an enemy.
“When you think about us providing options, really what it’s about is providing options to the combatant commander. And so, if you think about it, he has capabilities from the air. He has capabilities from the sea,” McConville said, according to the Army transcript. “He has capabilities from the land. There are also capabilities from cyber—and all those present multiple dilemmas to our competitors, and it does not allow them to focus on one option when it comes to a future situation.”
There is also the additional advantage of networking weapons systems, newer kinds of data-sharing technologies are increasingly able to connect weapons sensors and targeting systems to one another across otherwise disparate or unreachable nodes across an area of operations.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.