Milley Tells West Point Cadets Technology Will Transform War

WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. military officer Saturday challenged the next generation of army soldiers to prepare the U.S. military for future wars that may bear little resemblance to today’s wars.

Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, painted a grim picture of a world becoming more unstable, with major powers seeking to change the world order. He told graduating cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point that they will be responsible for making sure America is ready.

“The world you are appointed to has the potential for significant international conflict between great powers. And that potential is increasing, not decreasing,” Milley told the cadets. “What overmatch that we, the United States, have enjoyed militarily for the past 70 years is closing fast, and the United States will, in fact, already be challenged on every fields of warfare, space travel, cyber, maritime, air and natural land.”

America, he said, is no longer the undisputed world power. Instead, it is being tested in Europe by Russian aggression, in Asia by China’s dramatic economic and military growth and North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, and in the Middle East and Africa by terrorist instability.

Drawing parallels to what military officials see in Russia’s war against Ukraine, Milley said future warfare will be highly complex, with elusive enemies and urban warfare requiring long-range precision weapons and new advanced technologies.

The US has already sent new, high-tech drones and other weapons to the Ukrainian military – in some cases equipment that was still in the early prototype stages. Weapons such as the shoulder-launched kamikaze Switchblade drones are being used against the Russians, even though they are still under development.

And as the war in Ukraine has shifted – from Russia’s failed battle for Kiev to a rough urban battle for cities in the eastern Donbas region – the need for different types of weapons has also increased. In the early weeks the emphasis was on long-range precision weapons such as Stinger and Javelin missiles, but now the emphasis is on artillery and increased landings of howitzers.

And over the next 25 to 30 years, the fundamental nature of war and its weapons will continue to change.

The US military, Milley said, cannot cling to old concepts and weapons, but urgently needs to modernize and develop the strength and equipment that can deter or, if necessary, win a global conflict. And the graduating officers, he said, will have to change the way American troops think, train and fight.

Like tomorrow’s army leaders, Milley said, the newly minted 2nd lieutenants will battle robotic tanks, ships and planes, relying on artificial intelligence, synthetic fuels, 3D manufacturing and human engineering.

“It will be your generation that will bear the burden and responsibility to maintain the peace, contain and prevent the outbreak of a major power war,” he said.

In stark terms, Milley described what it looks like to avoid wars between great powers.

“Consider that 26,000 – 26,000 – soldiers and marines were killed in just six weeks from October to November 1918 in the Battle of the Meuse-Argonne in World War I,” Milley said. “Remember, too, that 26,000 American troops were killed in the eight weeks of the summer of 1944 from the beaches of Normandy to the liberation of Paris.”

Recalling the 58,000 Americans killed in the summer of 1944 when World War II raged, he added, “That’s the human cost of a war with great powers. The butcher’s bill.”

Recalling his own graduation, Milley paraphrased a popular Bob Dylan song from the time: “we can feel the light breeze in the air. And now that we’re here on the plain at West Point, we can see the storm flags fluttering in the wind. We can hear the loud clap of thunder in the distance. The heavy rain is about to fall.”

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