Lieutenant General Eric Wesley: ‘The Future of Land Warfare in a Changing Strategic Environment’
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Lieutenant General Eric Wesley: ‘The Future of Land Warfare in a Changing Strategic Environment’
6 June @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
As the strategic environment changes, planning for state-on-state military confrontation has re-emerged. Non-state actors – perhaps assisted by revisionist powers – have also not gone away. This less benign strategic environment is emerging at a time of military technological change, with the development of direct energy weapons, autonomous and semi-autonomous systems, and cyber capabilities. All this will have a direct impact on our ability to – and the ways in which we can – wage land warfare.
By kind invitation of James Gray MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to a discussion with Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, Deputy Commanding General, US Army Futures Command, whose role is to conceptualise transformation options for the world’s foremost land warfare force: the US Army. Lt. Gen. Wesley will speak on the future of land warfare in a changing strategic environment.
LTG Eric Wesley is currently serving as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Futures Command/ Director at Futures and Concepts Center, U. S. Army Futures Command. He began his career as a Tank Platoon Leader, Scout Platoon Leader, and Battalion Logistics Officer in 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, of the 1st Armored Division in Germany. He served in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Kuwait, followed by OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) where 2nd Brigade led the 3rd Infantry Division’s attack into Baghdad. In 2008 he returned to the “Big Red One” and assumed command of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. After command, he deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan serving as Chief of Current Plans for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. He then served for two years in the White House on the National Security Council as the Director for Afghanistan-Pakistan Policy. He later returned to Afghanistan where he was the Director for Future Plans for ISAF Joint Command in Afghanistan. LTG Wesley most recently served as the Commanding General, U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, Georgia. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal. He has also earned the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Ranger Tab.
James Rogers is Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society, of which he is a founding member. Formerly, he held a number of positions at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and has worked at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
James Gray is the (Conservative) MP for North Wiltshire. He was a Whip, Shadow Defence Minister, Shadow Minister for Rural Affairs, and Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland as well as a Chairman of the Parliamentary Group for the Polar Regions for some years. A member of Mr Speaker’s Panel of Chairmen, James has a deep interest in Parliament and the Constitution. He was educated in Glasgow (High School and University) and Christ Church, Oxford. James is a graduate of the Royal College of Defence Studies, a Visiting Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford and has also published several books: three on shipping and the futures markets (one of which won a Lloyds of London Book Prize); Crown vs Parliament: Who Takes Britain to War? (which won an RCDS prize); and more recently Poles Apart (2014) and Who Takes Britain to War? (2015).
On 6 June, the Henry Jackson Society welcomed Lt Gen Eric Wesley, Deputy Commanding General, US Army Futures Command & Director, Futures and Concepts Centre, US Army Futures Command, for a discussion on ‘The Future of Land Warfare in a Changing Strategic Environment’. The event was chaired by James Gray MP.
Lt Gen Wesley reflected upon the changes the world had been through, such as the rise of a revanchist Russia, the increase in China’s confidence based on its economic growth, and their avoidance of direct combat. According to General Wesley, the fact that the world has changed and that Russia and China are acting aggressively implied that the militaries of the US and its allies should evolve in order not to lose “market share”. He insisted on the fact that, if we agree with the idea of a Lockian social contract, there is then a moral obligation to modify the existing security apparatus to this evolving world.
This lead him to mention new operating concepts and tangible changes concerning the US military. Among the latter changes, General Wesley cited the fact that Russia and China sought to challenge the United States in all domains and were developing multiple layers of stand-off and a space of competition where they could compete with the US. That leaves the Americans with only two options, neither of which, according to General Wesley, are satisfying. As a consequence, he advocated for the creation of new options in order to find new ways to challenge these two countries in the competition space. He put a lot of emphasis on the importance of competing every single day against these threats in order to return to a state of competition.
Lt Gen Wesley also advocated in favour of two policies. First, always being able to compete. That means stimulating the threat every day to be able to locate it and, in case of confrontation, be able to attack. In short, “be in the competition space”. Then, he underlined the importance of presence on the ground. “You cannot compete if you are not present”. He highlighted the importance of developing important expeditionary capacities in case the US could not be present, but he recalled the decreasing budget with which the military had to apply these policies.
The general concluded by declaring that “we have a challenge in front of us, but if we embrace it, we can change the world. If we do not embrace it, the world will change”.
General Eric Wesley then answered the questions of the audience.
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