The U.S. Defense Department needs a new acquisition model to speed systems to warfighters while maintaining an effective industrial base, said industry leaders. The current model, based on competition, actually is counterproductive for what the government hopes to accomplish for procurement.
Unmanned systems for reconnaissance, surveillance and warfighting have grown so quickly in popularity that they are spawning a familiar list of challenges that must be met sooner rather than later. Many of these issues have arisen with other military technologies that became popular quickly, and planners found that fixing these problems was significantly more difficult the deeper the technologies were embedded in everyday military operations.
The realm of cyberspace, created by the United States, could be the undoing of its next major military operation unless the country regains control of its own creation. The virtual realm was let loose on the world where it was embraced by all manner of users, and some of them are counting on their expertise in it to overcome the overwhelming power of the U.S. military.
The U.S. Navy is developing a new fleet readiness plan that aims to enable more operations amid less funding. It is designed to avoid redundant activities or situations that might delay operations, and it will provide structure as well as flexibility in a coordinated effort across the fleet.
The U.S. Marine Corps is considering a new relationship with special operations forces as it faces a personnel drawdown, said a Marine Expeditionary Force commander. Lt. Gen. John Toolan, USMC, commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force, told a Wednesday panel audience at West 2014 in San Diego that the Corps is looking harder at how it integrates with special operations forces.
The U.S. Navy of the future will strongly resemble the U.S. Navy of the present, according to a group of admirals. Budget cuts and changing missions are impelling the Navy to rely on its existing platforms and improve them by implementing new technologies.
The U.S. Navy must “achieve a balance” between using custom information technology and adopting commercial products, according to its chief information officer. Terry Halvorsen, appearing in the Wednesday keynote panel at West 2014 in San Diego, told the audience that this balance must weigh all factors in determining the Navy’s information technology direction.
Having vast amounts of intelligence data will not serve U.S. military needs if it is applied only tactically, according to a U.S. Navy information dominance leader. This data must be used to understand an adversary’s strategic intent, or leaders may not act effectively.
It is estimated that today more than 100 billion emails are sent and received each day, and this number is expected to grow. While email is an effective means of communications, it is has become a time-consuming black hole.
Large defense budget cuts are imperiling efforts to retain quality people in the military, according to several military leaders. Career paths are becoming more difficult as promotion options drop, and programs that focus on quality of life risk being cut back, which could hasten the exodus from a force already dealing with significant reductions.
Military and civilian pilots who have flown the F-35 Lightning II praise its performance and are optimistic about its superiority in the future battlespace. However, even with fixes that have been made, some issues need to be addressed and support crew will need to adopt new ways of maintaining the flight line, these pilots say.
The Tuesday luncheon speaker at West 2014, co-sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute and being held February 11-13 in San Diego, demonstrated his view of the potential for innovative technologies by donning the latest in visual display systems.
The U.S. Navy is counting on industry to provide the leading-edge information technologies that it will need to maintain superiority for the foreseeable future. Yet, if those technologies do not meet specific and broad-reaching criteria, they will not be serving the Navy, according to a Navy fleet commander.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that has helped Afghanistan rise from the ashes of the Taliban also has produced concrete benefits for coalition members, according to a pair of retired U.S. military flag officers who were involved in the effort. Gen. Allen declared, “There was a massive development of political progress” as a result of this coalition among allies.
All of the efforts, money and lives expended by Western nations on Afghanistan will be wasted if these governments cut and run, say two retired military flag officers who were involved in the effort. “The worst thing we could do is walk away from this turbulent part of the world,” Adm. Stavridis declared, adding that the “vectors are in the right direction.”
Business as usual will weaken rather than strengthen the U.S. military in this time of budget cuts. The force must rely on technology development to ensure that it does not maintain current force sizes at the expense of enablers.
The U.S. military must make difficult decisions that will define the force for years to come amid a substantial risk to readiness and effectiveness, according to a Defense Department official. The nation faces new challenges throughout the world coupled with severe budget cuts at home, and the response to these issues must be taken carefully with a long-term strategic look.
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