Speaker: General James E. Rainey (Army Futures Command)
Date: 15 February 2024
Speaker Session Summary
Five years ago, the Army Futures Command was established with the primary objective of studying and preparing the army for future conflicts. Central to this endeavor is the exploration of human-machine integration. General Rainey posited that the world is currently experiencing an unparalleled period of technological disruption not witnessed since before World War II. He underscored that the disruptive impact is not solely attributed to the scale of new technological innovations but also to the rapid pace at which these advancements are unfolding. Despite the transformative influence of technology on the nature of warfare, General Rainey stressed the irreplaceable role of human agency in combat scenarios.
General Rainey highlighted the inherent limitations of machines, asserting that they cannot wholly supplant or surpass human soldiers. Instead, he framed human-machine integration to bolster the capabilities of US warfighters while mitigating risks to the warfighter. One key advantage that human operators retain over AI machines lies in their capacity to navigate the complexities of combat, which is increasing in its cognitive demand. Additionally, US operators possess the ability to exercise ethical judgment and maintain a curiosity-driven approach to understanding battlefield dynamics. While acknowledging the potential of human-machine collaboration, General Rainey cautioned against allowing future aspirations to distract from immediate capabilities. He discussed notable shifts in the battlefield landscape, including the heightened difficulty of concealing oneself, and highlighted necessary cultural changes within the US armed forces.
Speaker Session Recording
General James E. Rainey is the commanding general of the United States Army Futures Command (AFC), a post he assumed in October of 2022. AFC is responsible for transforming the Army to ensure war-winning future readiness and is focused on three overarching priorities: prioritizing people, designing the Army of 2040, and delivering the Army of 2030. Rainey commissioned as an infantry officer in the Army upon graduating from Eastern Kentucky University in 1987. He has served in a variety of command and leadership positions, from platoon leader to division commander. His most recent roles include Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7, at Headquarters Department of the Army and Commanding General, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Rainey holds masters’ degrees in Advanced Military Arts and Science and Public Administration from the School of Advanced Military Studies and Troy University, respectively.