A transparent battlefield presents the U.S. Army with formidable obstacles. The Army has been structured around large, difficult-to-conceal military formations for decades. A determined foe may find it more straightforward and more effective to strike critical logistical networks than directly attacking combat forces. These issues have enormous significance for the Army’s future doctrine, organizations, and platforms.
The Ukraine conflict poses significant challenges about whether and how helicopters can be used successfully. Since the end of the Vietnam War, the Army has mainly depended on its fleet of over 3,500 helicopters. In future conflicts, even the most advanced helicopters will be susceptible to many forms of annihilation. These capabilities will also threaten established helicopter bases and render it practically hard to defend temporary staging locations.
The Army must find out how to continue fighting successfully while suffering severe casualties in men, planes, and armored vehicles. It must invest more heavily in expendable drones and loitering munitions for reconnaissance, surveillance, and close air support missions. Cargo may need to be delivered by expendable supply drones or be dispatched by robotic ground vehicles. The war in Ukraine is a sobering reminder that the Army must be able to fight and win in future battles with potentially crippling losses.