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Nations Discuss Road to the Future in Rome

November 18, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

More than 300 representatives from 30 nations are examining solutions to future warfighting challenges in Rome this week at the 2009 Concept Development and Experimentation Conference. Specifically, members of U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) and NATO nations are conducting work that will promote multinational cooperation. Conference participants are discussing concept development and experimentation in the areas of countering hybrid threats, providing security force assistance, developing strategic communications and deterring non-state actors. Although the concepts that are being discussed focus on future confrontations, leaders of the conference agree that those concepts that can aid today's joint warfighters are likely to go to the head of the list for fast tracking.

Rear Adm. Christian Canova, French navy, says that the most significant part of strategic communications from the NATO standpoint is understanding that the connections are not just about military leaders. Instead, troops on the ground also must have access to strategic communications capabilities so that they can synchronize their actions with the strategy military leaders have in mind. Adm. Canova is the deputy assistant chief of staff for future capabilities, research and technology, Allied Command Transformation.

Rear Adm. Dan Davenport, USN, director of Joint Concept Development and Experimentation, JFCOM, agrees with Adm. Canova and adds that strategic communications must be embedded in every operation. "Aligning the strategic narrative from across the government and across the coalition is particularly important. Then within that strategic area that the military can provide, each nation can determine its specific contribution," Adm. Davenport states.

In addressing how work being conducted at the conference could be applied to current and future missions in Afghanistan, the admirals concur that the purpose of the event is to explore and find concepts that can be turned into doctrine and then flow through the acquisition of capabilities phase. But, while workshop attendees are concentrating on the future, the challenge also is to contribute to current operations. According to Adm. Davenport, "If we come up with a new idea or solution that looks like it has value to current operations, we will transition that as fast as possible."

Adm. Davenport and Adm. Canova each emphasized, however, that the goal of the conference is to gain mutual understanding about how various nations can work together as allies during future operations and to share ideas about how to take on some of the toughest problems facing the nations' governments.

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