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Chief: Commission Silicon Valley Superstars for Future Wars

Gen. Mark Milley stands with audience members -- cadets, lieutenants and captains associated with the cyber force -- at the 2017 International Conference on Cyber Conflict U.S. (US Army/Steven Stover)
Gen. Mark Milley stands with audience members -- cadets, lieutenants and captains associated with the cyber force -- at the 2017 International Conference on Cyber Conflict U.S. (US Army/Steven Stover)

The U.S. Army's chief of staff on Tuesday appealed to young leaders as well as private industry to help the service be ready for a new age of warfare.

Speaking before an audience at the 2017 International Conference on Cyber Conflict, Gen. Mark Milley it will be up to young lieutenants and captains to figure out how the Army will fight on a future battlefield that is dominated by cyber weapons, precision fires and artificial intelligence.

These new technologies will likely bring about a fundamental change in the character of warfare, much like the emergence of rifled muskets, machine guns, aircraft and radios did in past wars, Milley said.

Just having these new technologies will not be enough, he said, adding the key will be in how young leaders bring them together more effectively than the enemy.

"I would argue that ... we are not going to get it right," Milley said. "What is important is that we get it less wrong than our adversaries.

"That is the key: It's to get it less wrong than your opponent and then rapidly adapt and innovate as you are actually in contact in order to prevail."

This challenge will fall to the current generation, Milley said.

"People my age do not have the answers," he added. "We have enough brains, I suppose, to recognize that we are in the midst of change, but we are not savvy enough, we are not smart enough, we are not sophisticated enough to implement the actual changes that are going to take place.

"That rock is going to go in your rucksack, and we are counting on you for the future," he said.

The Army also needs to take advantage of the untapped talent of private industry, Milley said.

"There is a massive amount of incredible talent in the United States right now in the world of information technology," he said. "We need to attract those best minds."

The Army is conducting a pilot program for direct commissioning, so professionals in places such as Silicon Valley can come into the service as officers. The Army has used direct commissioning in the past in the medical and other specialty fields.

"I would argue the vast majority of them are great American patriots ... and they would love the opportunity to serve," Milley said.

"There is no reason why if you've got a brilliant person out there, who wants to serve and is all of 35 years old and the guy created two start-ups and now he makes cars that don't run on gas. ... We ought to try to get them, even if it's only for 24 months," he said.

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