Army Theater Fires Command

Integration and Control of Very Long-Range Army Fires

by John Gordon IV, John Matsumura

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Research Questions

  1. How can a TFC operate as part of a larger joint force?
  2. What are the possible missions the TFC could conduct given the capabilities that the Army envisions including in the organization?
  3. What are the possible roles for the TFC in both the EUCOM and INDOPACOM regions?

One of the central elements of the U.S. Army's emerging multidomain operations capabilities is the deployment of a suite of advanced long-range strike weapons. The Army envisions that these new weapons will be highly responsive and synchronized with other joint capabilities. Because of the range of these new Army weapons, there will be major implications for joint coordination and planning. To help address these integration and control challenges, the Army is developing a new organization, a Theater Fires Command (TFC). TFCs would function within the joint force construct and would have the ability to provide very long-range Army fires that could contribute to the joint force objectives and could complement the other services' attack assets at their full range of operations.

The authors conclude that different theaters will pose different challenges to a future TFC. Depending on the particular circumstances within a theater of operation, the TFC may have to take on a different shape and size to maximize its utility and potential contribution. For example, in Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), emphasis would have to be placed on longer-range weapons within units that have relatively smaller footprints; whereas in European Command (EUCOM), emphasis might best be placed on high volumes of shorter-range systems. If these challenges can be overcome, and if appropriate operating locations can be established, the TFC will provide a unique and complementary ground-attack capability at the level of the joint force commander.

Key Findings

  • The U.S. Army is developing a new generation of surface-to-surface fires with very long ranges (500–2,000 km), including cannons, missiles, and cruise missiles.
  • The Army will face the challenges of integrating these long-range fires, both with its own shorter-range fires and with the very long-range fires of other services, particularly as it lacks its own long-range intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
  • To address these challenges, the Army is proposing a new organization called a TFC.
  • The Army is also exploring how TFCs could apply artificial intelligence techniques to improve and accelerate the employment and support of very long-range systems.
  • The number and type of weapons the Army fields will influence a TFC's role in relation to the other services.
  • TFCs would face different deployment and employment challenges in the EUCOM and INDOPACOM theaters.

Recommendations

  • Conduct a joint assessment of Army TFC and other service long-range systems for Europe and the Pacific.
  • Continue to take a modular approach to the TFC organization. There could be a need to tailor the TFC organization for Europe and the Pacific because of the role the TFC would have in relation to the other services, basing options, and other factors.
  • Continue to explore possible technology options for the TFC, including artificial intelligence, sensors, and weapons.
  • TFCs should be integrated with the capabilities of the other services to the greatest extent possible.
  • A TFC should coordinate surface-to-surface fires and other effects for combined joint force land component commanders and the joint force commander and could provide very long-range Army fires to help meet joint force objectives.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and conducted by the Forces and Logistics Program within the RAND Arroyo Center.

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