What is interesting is that this task force will not be composed of aircraft carriers or other surface combatants. Nor will it feature attack or ballistic missile submarines either. Rather than that, this task force will be focused on AI and robotics. By Scott Morgan, exclusively for Vanguard Global & Defence Unlimited International
To put it mildly, the security environment is an ever evolving entity. The recent announcement by the U.S. Navy that it will be standing up a new Task Force is evident of that.
What is interesting is that this task force will not be composed of aircraft carriers or other surface combatants. Nor will it feature attack or ballistic missile submarines either. Rather than that, this task force will be focused on AI and robotics.
This unit Task Force 59 will have the mission of integrating new and what is considered to be promising unmanned and AI-enabled systems that are designed to enhance awareness in the maritime space and bolster deterrence. The Navy has even decided to test these systems in what could be considered to be a target rich environment.
The decision has been made to place this Task Force in the 5th Fleet area of operations. Not only is this area known for its harsh conditions, it is also the location where three key waterways that are vital to the western economies are located. They are the Straits of Hormuz, The Bab-el-Mandeb at the southern end of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal itself. The area where the 5th Fleet operates has a total of 5,000 miles of coastlines which present threats that need to be monitored.
It is expected that this Task Force which is the first of its kind undertaken by any Naval Power will draw interests from not only regional stakeholders but from other allies of the United States as well. It is also felt that this unit could also reinvigorate some partnerships as the US expands its common operating picture.
One benefit that could be seen as that operations could still be launched or even maintained during monsoon season. A U.S. Navy spokesman did state regarding the AOR: “ It’s a very rich operational environment with real issues and problems in maritime domain awareness.”
The Navy plans on fielding more surface and subsurface robotic systems. It will not be enough to increase the amount of data that flows into the command center. The information will need to be processed and stored in real time to determine what specific information is relevant to missions that are currently underway.
Over the next few months the task force intends to integrate unmanned aerial, surface and undersea vehicles. The plan is to move away from a primarily unmanned aerial strategy towards a multi-domain focus.
Plans call for the 5th Fleet to showcase some of these platforms during the IMX 2022 which is the largest exercise on the calendar for the command. This exercise is designed to show the commitment to both Freedom of Navigation and the free flow of commerce which are hallmarks to US Naval strategy, and will take place in late January. Over 60 Nations have been invited to take part in the exercise.
This effort is a key part of Project Overmatch. This is the contribution by the Navy towards the Defense Department joint all domain command and control program. This is designed to better link sensors and shooters in future conflict. Members of Project Overmatch were present during the planning stages of this task force. It is felt that lessons learned from activities in this region will go a long way towards meeting these objectives.
This shall be an interesting program to monitor.