Army Equipment Modernization Efforts

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On April 2, 2013, North Korea announced that it would restart its nuclear reactor program (Sang-Hun & Landler, 2013, p. 1). As a matter of international law, six conventions, two treaties, one protocol, one arrangement, one code, one initiative, and ten regional or zone treaties have been instituted in an effort to control instruments of mass murder (Choksy & Choksy, 2013, p. 1). However, countries have continued to spur proliferation of every weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) category despite these efforts. Further exacerbating the situation is the fact that developed nations, rogue states, and non-state actors continue to distribute weapons, technologies, and materials for profits or power. This plentiful supply of dangerous technologies raises the risk of these weapons of mass murder falling into the wrong hands and makes the threat of nuclear, chemical weapons, and biological warfare a primary concern in efforts to modernize military equipment.

As such, the Army Equipment Modernization Plan (hereinafter "AEMP" or "the Plan"), considered alongside the Army Equipment Modernization Strategy (AEMS), establishes a framework for how the Army will modernize its equipment overtime. The Plan describes Army Research, Development, and Acquisition (RDA), breaking down the RDA into ten capability portfolio areas: (1) Soldier and Squad, (2) Mission Command, (3) Intelligence, (4) Ground Movement and Maneuver, (5) Aviation, (6) Indirect Fires, (7) Air and Missile Defense Protection, (8) Force Protection, (9) Sustainment (Transport), and (10) Sustainment (AEMP, p. 7). The overall objective of the equipment modernization effort is to develop versatile equipment that is affordable, sustainable, cost-effective, and enables Soldiers to successfully fight across the entire range of conflict (AEMP, p. 7). This summary provides an overview of each portfolio, describing how the equipment capabilities can be employed against the threat of North Korea.

Modernization Plan Overview

In order to meet its objective, the Army uses portfolio management to increase efficiency, reduce redundancies, focus on mature technologies, and ensure the timely fielding of equipment (AEMP, p. 7). Moreover, the Plan addresses current needs and supports the AEMS by determining which systems to procure, which technologies to invest in, and which applications to integrate during the yearly budgeting process (AEMP, p. 11). Furthermore, the Plan also recognizes three specific constraints on modernization (strategic, technological, and fiscal) that limit its ability to achieve all its aspirations. Accordingly, within the Plan, each equipment portfolio provides an overview of plans, discusses key portfolio accomplishments in the past two years fiscal years (FY 12/13), and outlines key portfolio investments for FY 14. In order to streamline this summary, each of the ten portfolios will be briefly summarized, emphasizing how best to employ the equipment found in each against the threat from North Korea.

Soldier and Squad Portfolio Overview

This portfolio is considered the cornerstone for all Army units and is the foundation of its decisive force (AEMP, p. 25). The modernization efforts focus on squad capabilities in lethality, mobility, protection, and situational awareness in order to maintain overmatch against peer adversary formations (AEMS, p. 11). As regards equipment, the portfolio's 2014 focus is on supporting the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the XM-25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement system as well as continuing fielding Enhanced Night Vision Devices for Special Operation Forces and Brigade Combat Teams (AEMP, p. 26).

Investments for this portfolio total $1.1 billion USD and include small arms (individual and crew-served weapons), night vision, Soldier sensors, body armor, individual networked command and control (C2), Soldier clothing and individual equipment, and parachutes (p. 27). Considering the current threat from North Korea, it is possible to employ this equipment against that threat should tensions escalate and manpower on the ground is necessary to contain proliferation of WMDs.

Mission Command Portfolio Overview

The Mission Command portfolio is the Operational segment of the Army's End-to-End Network that supports all Army Mission Areas (AEMP, p. 28). Accordingly, this portfolio consists of four distinct capability areas: Transport, Applications, Enablers, and Integration¬–each accompanied with a specific network, Network-Tactical (WIN-T) and the Family of Networked Tactical Radios, Tactical Battle Command (TBC), Joint Battle Command – Platform (JBC-P) and Global Combat Support System-Army (GCSS-A), Communication Security (COMSEC) with Key Management Infrastructure and Power Generation, respectively (p. 28). Regarding the use of this equipment against North Korea, all of these programs can serve to support both the operating and generating force, share information across all levels of classification, and enable rapid application development and deployment (p. 29) if necessary.

Total investment for this portfolio is $3.6 billion USD (p. 30). The foremost challenge in use of this equipment is closing network capability gaps that emerge and change rapidly within the networks. Especially considering the recent threat from North Korea, it is possible to use this equipment to fully integrate networking on-the-move through networked radios, satellite systems, software applications, and smartphone like devices to keep track of enemy forces (p. 29). This is the most promising modernization element with the widest-cast net should the Army ever need to act against the North Korean threat.

Intelligence Portfolio Overview

According to this portfolio, intelligence incorporates key components of collection, exploitation, and analysis across four primary areas: Foundational, Terrestrial, Aerial, and Space (AEMP, p. 31). The overall goal for this portfolio is the full integration of the core intelligence capabilities including the use of the following equipment: Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) collection, Counterintelligence (CI)/Human Intelligences (HUMINT) interrogation and source operations, and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT), including Full Motion Video (FMV). This portfolio also provides for essential modernization by fully funding the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS-A), Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS), and the Prophet Ground SIGNT capability (p. 32).

Investments for this portfolio total $766 million USD (p. 33), but risks and challenges include keeping pace with rapid changes in technological advances in communication, cyber and electronic warfare, and counter-detection and analytics techniques. Accounting for the current threat from North Korea, this portfolio is critical, particularly considering the country's tight border control (read: surveillance is priority). Accordingly, the intelligence equipment can be used to advance analytics, aerial sensors, ground-based collection devices, and biometrics in order to correctly assess the presence of WMDs.

Ground Movement and Maneuver Portfolio Overview

This portfolio consists of three platforms: (1) mounted lethality, (2) infantry fighting vehicle, and (3) general purpose, which all serve as the "heavy fleet" of combat power (AEMS, p. 17). The goal of this portfolio is to develop and field an integrated network, which includes strict consideration of the Combat Modernization Strategy. Equipment within this portfolio includes Ground Combat Vehicles (GCVs) and Armored-Multi Purpose Vehicles (AMPVs), which will replace the M113 Family of Vehicles (AEMP, p. 35). Altogether, this will cost $1.8 billion USD (p. 36). Considering the North Korean threat, equipment in this portfolio can be used in the requiring, resourcing, and acquiring of processes specific to architectures for energy efficiency and protection related to proliferation and threats of WMDs.

Aviation Portfolio Overview

According to this portfolio, aviation consists of the core aviation programs, including utility and cargo, fixed wing mission profiles, reconnaissance/attack, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), which meet the readiness and modernization objectives of the Army Campaign Plan (AEMP, p. 37). Full funding for equipment in this portfolio includes the Kiowa Warrior OH-58F program, Apache AH-64E program, production of the Gray Eagle UAS, UH-60 production, procurement of the Lakota Light Utility Helicopter, and the Special Operations CH-47 aircraft (p. 37). Given the current North Korean threat, modernizing the aircraft in this portfolio means it can be used to detect enemy threats, particularly in modernized platforms that require manned/unmanned teaming in networked common operating environments (AEMS, p. 20). Unsurprisingly, due to the major modernization efforts needed in this portfolio, investment totals $5.5 billion USD (AEMP, p. 41), the largest of all portfolios.

Indirect Fires Portfolio Overview

This portfolio consists of weapons platforms, sensors, target locating devices, and precision munitions that identify targets and deliver operationally offensive maneuvers (AEMS, p. 21). Subsequently, the Indirect Fires' equipment portfolio consists of fire support capabilities in four areas: Precision Sensors, Delivery Platforms (Shooters), Munitions, and Field Artillery (FA) C2 Systems (AEMP, p. 43). Furthermore, the Plan recognizes that to meet the threats of an adaptive adversary that employs unconventional tactics, the Army must carefully balance the quantity, quality, and management of its equipment (p. 43). Thus, this portfolio includes several types of variants of equipment that focus on precision and near-precision missions with an investment total of $1.6 billion USD (p. 45).

This is of particular importance given the current threat from North Korea because this equipment allows for the Army to preempt enemy actions at greater distances as well as provides defensive fires to protect friendly forces (such as South Korea), population centers, and critical infrastructure with improved precision munitions (AEMS, p. 22). Finally, the key strategic objectives for this portfolio, with regards to the North Korea threat, include sustainment and modernization of firing platforms in synchronization with Army modernization plans as well as finding common user interfaces across all Fires launch and radar systems (AEMP, p. 44).

Air and Missile Defense Protection Portfolio Overview

According to this portfolio, air and missile defense (AMD) consists of required capabilities in the following areas: Ballistic Missile Defense, Counter UAS/Cruise Missile Defense, and Indirect Fire Protection (AEMP, p. 46). The Plan states that development and acquisition of new equipment is the key to closing capability gaps and achieving dominance in core capabilities (p. 47). Thus, considering the current threat of WMDs, cost-efficient technologies for this kind of equipment is crucial and will cost $1.9 billion USD to develop (p. 48). Development of this equipment must focus on science and technological improvements such as low-cost interceptors and directed energy weapons will be incredibly strategic when employed against a foe such as North Korea.

Force Protection Portfolio Overview

This portfolio is of special importance to situations like North Korea, particularly given the nuclear threat. Force Protection modernization procures assured mobility, protection and selected Chemical Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) defense equipment that is effective and affordable (AEMP, p. 50). Such equipment includes Joint Combat Identification Marking System (JCIMS) kits for United States Forces Korea, Biological Integrated Detection Systems (BIDS), Launched Electrode Stun Device and 2,546 Battlefield Anti-Intrusion System (BAIS), as well as Combat Identification Panels, Thermal ID Panels, and Infra Red Lights, in investments that total $716.4 million USD (p. 52).

Considering the evolution of modern day warfare, the rise of global terrorism, and the rapid evolution of low-cost threat capabilities, this type of equipment is crucial in containing proliferation of WMDs (Choksy & Choksy, 2013, p. 2). Additionally, the Army plans on prioritizing CBRN research investments and procurement of protection and detection capabilities in order to mitigate the threat posed by non-traditional agents (AEMS, p. 28). Given North Korea's historical aggression towards the U.S. and South Korea, CBRN equipment can be used to maintain the U.S. advantage of advanced technology over North Korea and minimizing capability gaps against other threats also.

Sustainment (Transport) Portfolio Overview

This portfolio consists of Tactical Wheeled Vehicles (TWVs) and Watercraft fleets, including Light, Medium, and Heavy Tactical Vehicles (AEMP, p. 54). Considering that TWVs are employed in many combat service support missions such as armament carrier, recon, convoy operations, troop and cargo transport, CASEVAC, and C2 roles, this equipment is importation for the unprotected motorized transportation platforms for people and equipment are practical in the training base (p. 54). The Watercraft consists of four categories: Command and Control, Causeway Systems, Landing Craft and Floating Craft (p. 55) and would be employed strategically against North Korea given a water attack. Total investment in this portfolio is $575 million USD (p. 56).

Sustainment Portfolio Overview

The Sustainment portfolio consists of the following systems and equipment: Joint Precision Airdrop Systems (JPADS), Modular Fuel System-Tank Rack Module (MFS-TRM), Load Handling System Compatible Water Tank Rack System (HIPPO), Assault Kitchen, Multi-Temperature Refrigerated Container System (MTRCS), 5K Light Capacity Rough Terrain Forklift (LCRTF), Metal Working and Machining Shop Set (MWMSS), Armament Repair Shop Set (ARSS) (p. 57). Employing this equipment against the threat of North Korea would be in the form of keeping all aspects of current systems and equipment enabled in case of an attack, including the health and care of Soldiers. As such, investment in this portfolio is constant and totals $518 million USD.


Anticipating global security threats, such as the one from North Korea, makes modernization efforts is a difficult task. The AEMP takes great pains to link strategy with action in order to ensure top results. No panacea exists that will account for all potential threats, especially since technological and fiscal constraints abound. However, the threat of WMDs by state actors like North Korea cannot be understated. Therefore, as the Army follows through on its plan, the specific use of its equipment against a threat like North Korea should be contemplated at every step.


Choksy, C.E.B., & Choksy, J. K. (2013, April 5). WMD Proliferation threatens the world. YaleGlobal Online. Retrieved from

Department of the Army, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff (2013, May 17). Army Equipment Modernization Plan [AEMP]. Washington, DC: Pentagon.

Department of the Army, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff (2013, March 4). Army Equipment Modernization Strategy [AEMS]. Washington, DC: Pentagon.

Sang-Hun, C., & Mark, L. (2013, April 2). North Korea says it will restart reactor to expand arsenal. The New York Times. Retrieved from