Weapons testing ranges ‘do not match adversary capabilities’ – Forward Observer Shop

Weapons testing ranges ‘do not match adversary capabilities’

The U.S. military needs to improve its weapons testing ranges to better match the increasing capabilities of potential adversaries, according to the Defense Department’s new director of operational test and evaluation, Robert Behler.

In an annual report to Congress, Behler warned that 28 percent of current DoD weapons ranges are in “poor to failing condition” and require an estimated $1.1 billion to repair.

“The majority of threats we have on the ranges do not represent the modern capabilities of our potential future adversaries,” he wrote in the executive summary of the report.

“The once seemingly vast space of the open-air ranges is no longer large enough to test modern weapons and sensors at the employment distances envisioned,” Behler continued. “Test infrastructure for cyber is just now beginning to be realized, while the space domain remains in its infancy. We need to modernize our test ranges.”

“An alarming trend over the past 10 years is that our potential adversaries are increasing their capabilities faster than the DOD test infrastructure can adapt and realistically represent them,” he wrote. “The department must accelerate the speed that threat capabilities are characterized and transferred to the test base.”

Behler also pledged to improve DOD cyber-defense capabilities. [Source: Inside Defense, Jan. 25, 2018]

(Analyst comment: One-fifth of our current weapons testing ranges being inadequate may not seem like a huge deal, but when you consider the limited time and opportunities that U.S. forces have for such training, any reduction in available realistic training assets means they are not going to be as prepared as they need to be should they be pressed into action against a modern, well-equipped adversary.)

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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