FORT LIBERTY, North Carolina — The U.S. Army four-star command tasked with modernizing the force is preparing to release this fall a warfighting concept for operations in 2040, according to the AFC commander.

The concept would closely follow last year’s release of the Army’s Multidomain Operations doctrine.

“We are working really hard on the next Army operating concept based on the big evolutions, unprecedented disruption in terms of technology,” Gen. James Rainey told Defense News during a July 27 interview on his way to the Association of the U.S. Army’s Warfighter Summit at Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

This fall, the Army will roll out its “1.0 version of the concept,” Rainey said, “on how the Army is going to fight as part of a joint force in the [20]30 to ‘40 timeframe.” In time, this concept will become doctrine.

The AFC commander previously helped shape the MDO concept as the commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s Combined Arms Center from 2019 to 2021. That doctrine, the Army’s first new one in 40 years, laid out how the Army operates not just on land but also across air, sea, space and cyberspace.

With MDO complete and a host of new weapons systems expected to come online from now into the early 2030s, Rainey is now thinking about what kinds of formations and capability the Army will need in the 2040 timeframe as well as the associated doctrine.

“I personally believe there’s some big changes to warfare and figuring out that starts with what’s the future operating environment, not just our enemies, but demographics, climate, the economy, urbanization. What’s the future battlefield going to look like,” Rainey said. “How do we need to operate in that to stay the best army in the world, to be able to dominate the land domain as part of the joint force?”

The new concept “could be an evolution of multidomain operations,” Rainey said, or it “could be something new. I won’t tell you the answers yet.”

The concept will cover the competencies the Army will need to operate, he said. “It’ll include a theory of victory. It’ll introduce new imperatives, things we need to be able to do that we can’t do now. … It’ll introduce fundamental changes in the way we organize, train and flight, and really how we man.”

The concept will then drive experimentation in science and technology and research and development, which the Army will need to incorporate into its budget in just a few years to shape the force of 2040, Rainey said.

He said he wants this concept to be “a little broader” than those of the past. At this phase, Rainey said, “I’m not looking for a 40-page glossy with all the answers. I’m looking for a working document that could part of a professional dialogue.”

In addition to the concept work, Rainey said AFC is still focused on delivering the Army’s priority weapons systems to soldiers by 2030 while also looking at how formations should be designed to take on the new capability.

And he is also prioritizing what the Army can deliver more rapidly, in some cases within two years. “The amount of disruption and the character of warfare right now is unprecedented,” Rainey said.

“We need to do a better job of seeing something that’s happening on the battlefield, in technology, out in the Pacific, and turn that into no-kidding capability in a formation,” he added.

Some of the types of capability the Army would like to move more quickly to buy would be loitering munitions, smaller more agile, attritable unmanned aircraft with configurable payloads, ground-based rockets, ground-based missiles and counter-drone systems.

Jen Judson is an award-winning journalist covering land warfare for Defense News. She has also worked for Politico and Inside Defense. She holds a Master of Science degree in journalism from Boston University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Kenyon College.

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