Published 07:17 IST, May 18th 2024

How US Army's Pacific Multidomain Task Force is Advancing AUKUS Tech Development

The US Army's 3rd Multidomain Task Force (MDTF) in Hawaii is set to integrate officers from Australia and the United Kingdom this summer under the AUKUS pact.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
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Hawaii: The U.S. Army’s 3rd Multidomain Task Force (MDTF), headquartered in Hawaii, is set to integrate officers from Australia and the United Kingdom this summer. This strategic move aims to advance critical technologies under the second pillar of the AUKUS pact, according to U.S. Army Pacific Commander Gen. Charles Flynn. Australia will contribute five officers, while the UK will send three, embedding them within the MDTF.  

“This is what I’ll call the sort of initial seed corn of creating that combined capability,” Flynn told Defense News at the Association of the U.S. Army’s LANPAC conference in Hawaii. “I believe these formations and the contributions at least from those two countries are complementary and will accelerate a lot of activities and a lot of work that we need to do together in AUKUS Pillar 2.”  


AUKUS Pact and Pillar 2 Focus  

The AUKUS collaboration, announced in 2021, is structured around two main pillars. The first focuses on developing nuclear-powered submarines, while the second covers critical technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, hypersonics, and autonomy. The officers from Australia and the UK will bring expertise in cyber, space, electronic warfare, information operations, and targeting to the MDTF.  

Working on these advanced technologies is a logical fit for the MDTF, which was established in 2018 as an experimental unit to explore multi-domain operations. Following its successful inception, the Army decided to operationalize the MDTF, planning a total of five such units. The 1st MDTF is nearly complete, and the 3rd MDTF, established in September 2022, is still expanding. There are three MDTFs planned for the Pacific region.  


Capabilities and Integration Efforts  

Each MDTF employs a variety of advanced assets, including electronic warfare capabilities, unmanned aircraft systems, high-altitude balloons, and space sensors. These assets are part of the Multidomain Effects Battalion, which also includes a unit capable of delivering long-range fires using the new Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) from High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems. Australia and the U.S. are already co-developing this missile capability.

“AUKUS Pillar 2 is really about accelerating artificial intelligence and machine learning aspects,” said Col. Michael Rose, the commander of the 3rd MDTF, at the LANPAC conference. The PrSM development effort involves using space and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, along with AI and machine learning, to automate parts of the kill chain. AI and machine learning will also support decision-making and environmental understanding, including drone usage and countermeasures.  


Enhancing Interoperability and Readiness  

The integration of Australian and UK officers into the MDTF is not just about developing technology but also about fostering deep interoperability. “We have a continued set of work with the Australians and now, more and more, the United Kingdom partners, to build coordination mechanisms so that we can really accelerate our interoperability and ultimately achieve interchangeability,” Rose said. 

This effort includes establishing robust human, procedural, and technological connections to enhance operational readiness. “In the event, we have to pivot to crisis or conflict, we’ve already got the human connections, we’ve got the procedural connections, and we’ve got the technological connections to be able to do that, and it offers commanders quite a lot of optionality,” Rose added. 


07:17 IST, May 18th 2024