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Transformation Transcends Technology

July 2003
By Maryann Lawlor
E-mail About the Author

Effective change requires comprehensive approach.

Information systems are an important part of U.S. military transformation, but they are only one component of a complex continuous journey for the armed forces. Culture, processes and concepts also must change, and government agencies across the board must transform as well for the United States to retain its leadership role.

During speeches and panel discussions, Transformation TechNet conference and exhibition attendees heard this admonition from dozens of military and industry leaders who gathered to assess the status of transformation. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Tidewater and Hampton Roads chapters and AFCEA International, took place at the Virginia Beach Pavilion in May.

Maj. Gen. Daniel M. Dick, USAF, director of transformation, U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), opened the conference by saying that transformation is a journey, not a destination, and the military must take several steps to move the armed forces in the right direction. First, the areas to be transformed must be scoped. Today, the principal areas of inquiry include how the military will fight, do business and work with other organizations. On the business side, Gen. Dick emphasized that the rate of delivering capabilities to warfighters must quicken. “The days of taking years and years to get an aircraft have got to end. We have to do better,” he said.

One way to accelerate the delivery process is through spiral development, he suggested. Prototype or proposed solutions do not have to be perfect. They just have to be good enough that they can be improved with the involvement of end-users and engineers. On the acquisition side, processes must be streamlined. “There is just too much plain old bureaucracy out there,” he said.

Gen. Dick also stated that the military and other federal agencies must overcome their parochialism. Each agency might have a tool, but the goal is to collaborate. Work at JFCOM’s Joint Interagency Control Group is helping to facilitate this process.

Tuesday morning panelists explored industry’s role in transformation efforts. Vice Adm. Jerry L. Unruh, USN (Ret.), president, ManTech Systems Engineering Corporation and moderator of the panel, stated that transformation is only in the early stages, agreeing with Gen. Dick’s comments that it is an evolving process. “Unlike the old way of fighting when the enemy could cut us off at the pass, the transformation process cannot be bought. They’ll never catch up because we’ll just keep going,” Adm. Unruh said.

Mark Lumer, principal assistant responsible for contracting, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, pointed out that the logistics tail affects operations, adding that one of the most important supporters in operation Iraqi Freedom was Federal Express.

Lumer listed several technologies that he believes will be important in the future, including laser and directed energy technologies, quantum computing, nanotechnology, virtual immersion environments, biotechnology and robotics. For example, in operation Iraqi Freedom, robots were sent into buildings before soldiers to ensure that the environment was safe. In the future, there is no reason that these robots should not be armed, he said.

Tuesday’s luncheon speaker, Vice Adm. Albert H. Konetzni Jr., USN, deputy commander and chief of staff, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, argued that transformation is not new and that the military has been transforming throughout history. According to Adm. Konetzni, “The question confronting this group is, How do we capture technological innovations and use them correctly to ensure that we are ready for the challenges ahead in this new century?”

History holds the answers to this quandary, he stated. For example, the USS Monitor was the most innovative ship during the Civil War. Despite its cutting-edge design, the Monitor sank, not in battle but in a storm because the ship’s pumps and hand pumps were inadequate. “In the end, the Monitor sank not from enemy fire but from faulty systems and design. That is the message I want you to hear today. We have a great country, capable of awesome innovation. But military innovation pursued without solid intellectual underpinnings, without a clear vision of how it fits into the overall construct and without discipline can lead you down the wrong road,” the admiral said.

“I feel very strongly that we have lost our bearings when it comes to transformation because most of the talk is not backed up by solid intellectual analysis. Adm. [Bruce] DeMars at the 50th anniversary of DEVRON 12 explained that the Navy’s premier tactical submarine development squadron had become nothing more than ‘gadget testers.’ He was right. Unfortunately, tactical development and experimentation across the Navy has gone along the same path. We have largely abandoned operations analysis. Without looking clearly at the mission and rigorously analyzing the potential of new tactics and technologies to improve warfighting, we just get PowerPoint solutions,” Adm. Konetzni stated.

Although Tuesday afternoon’s panel was titled “Technology and Transformation,” participants agreed that transformation is about more than technical capabilities. “We must resolve, not the number of computers, but we must use a holistic approach. Information overload is epidemic in the military. Information is an impediment because there is not enough analysis,” stated panelist Cmdr. Gregory E. Glaros, USN, Office of Force Transformation.

As an example, Cmdr. Glaros offered a comparison of the New York and Chicago police departments. While New York used a low-technology approach to chart trends in crime, then reorganized its force to increase police presence in those areas, Chicago purchased thousands of dollars of networking and database equipment. New York’s crime rate decreased by two orders of magnitude, Chicago’s only decreased 20 to 25 percent.

Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Wright, USAF, vice commander, Air Combat Command, opened Wednesday’s activities by pointing out that the military talks a lot about lessons learned but takes too long to incorporate those lessons into action. However, many of the lessons learned in operation Desert Storm and subsequent operations helped win operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, he added.

Lessons from the Vietnam conflict were incorporated into work in the first Gulf War. By operation Allied Force, the air operations center concept was elevated to higher command levels, which put combined air power over Serbia. The amount of time required to execute time-sensitive targeting decreased by half between operations Desert Storm and Allied Force; however, it still took two hours to plan and execute these missions. By operation Enduring Freedom, joint air and ground operations were successful because special operations forces were matched with combat force missions. Lessons from Afghanistan were brought into the fight in Iraq, which contributed greatly to the success of this operation.

The conference’s third panel, “Joint C4ISR Interoperability,” was led by Vice Adm. Richard W. Mayo, USN, commander, Naval Network Warfare Command. He pointed out that interoperability has been successful at the operational level but now must be accomplished at the tactical level.

Panelist Keith J. Masback, director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance integration, Department of the Army, stated that the U.S. Army is working toward a system of systems and growing a joint team. He related that command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) now means more in the Army than it did in the past. It now includes ISR, medicine, logistics and personnel, and as a result, his service now refers to C4ISR as “battle command.”

Capt. Jarratt Mowery, USN, executive assistant to the program executive officer, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and space, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, offered two solutions to the interoperability problem. First, a single system could be built that everyone would use. This approach comes at a price, Capt. Mowery said, as it would take longer to reach agreement about requirements, and no one would receive all of their requested attributes. The second alternative is to conduct work based on common architectures and standards. Although the final products would be interoperable, this would require a lot of testing, the captain stated.

Panelist Vice Adm. Jerry O. Tuttle, USN (Ret.), president and chief executive officer, J.O.T. Enterprises LLC, candidly expressed his opinions about why interoperability is difficult to achieve. He compared the task of making systems interoperable to trying to bail out the Pacific Ocean with a sieve. “Interoperability is urgent but the easiest to resolve because it is a leadership issue, not a technology issue,” Adm. Tuttle said. The resolution could occur within a decade, but he is not optimistic that this will happen because the problem cannot be solved until compliance is enforced, he added. “It’s like trying to cut the foot to fit the shoe.”

Adm. Mayo agreed that the services have been “filling up the shopping cart with lots of systems that don’t interoperate. We haven’t had the discipline to make sure they’re interoperable, and that’s what’s caused our problems.”

At Wednesday’s luncheon, Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, USA, commander, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, said that the Army is ahead of the curve in creating change and moving toward the future. The general emphasized the importance of being able to operate in the joint environment. “If you don’t have C4ISR across the force, you don’t have C4ISR,” he stated. This means communications and intelligence interconnectivity, joint procedures and continuous experimentation.

The Objective Force is one that is rapidly deployable and employable upon arrival in the theater of operations. This means that the old reconnaissance, combat and logistics force structure cannot continue. “If we can plug in, we can have situational awareness, and then forces can be deployed in a distributed fashion. We can attack … in a nonlinear fashion. In operation Iraqi Freedom, we saw the first example of this,” Gen. Byrnes said. Training will be an important element of achieving this goal, he added.

Lt. Gen. J.O. Michel Maisonneuve, CF, deputy commander, Allied Command Atlantic, opened the final day of the conference with information about the transformation of NATO and other nations. Military leaders in other countries realize that, if they are going to modernize, they need to stay consistent with activities in the United States.

To help the multinational journey of transformation, NATO created the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) group. Leaders met in Prague, and two teams were developed: one to focus on change management in headquarters and another to assess the future. Five domains have been designated, including strategic concepts, doctrine and policy; requirements and capabilities planning and implementation; joint and combined future capabilities research and technology; joint experimentation; and joint education and training.

Although ACT’s headquarters will be located at JFCOM in Norfolk, Virginia, groups in other nations will examine specific elements. For example, the center for undersea research will be located in Italy; the Joint Warfare Centre will be located in Norway; and joint force training will be examined in Poland.

The international flavor of the conference continued during Thursday morning’s panel session. Cdre. Jon Welch, RN, deputy assistant chief of staff–plans, Allied Command Atlantic, outlined three points about the multinational environment that would help countries work together. First, the technology gap between the United States and other nations still exists. “We can’t get all the allies to buy all the equipment, so equipment must be built keeping friends in mind,” Cdre. Welch said.

Second, NATO technical systems must work in a combined forces environment. To ensure this, NATO and industry have to be on the same page, working with the most up-to-date standards information.

Finally, Cdre. Welsh encouraged audience members to turn to the new ACT group when developing technologies for multinational missions in the same way they have been looking to JFCOM for help with joint services issues.

Rear Adm. Robert Nutwell, USN (Ret.), principal, Booz Allen Hamilton, made several recommendations about how to operate effectively in a multinational environment. It is important for countries to clarify their roles and responsibilities, develop and refine their policy and doctrine, develop agile information and intelligence information-sharing processes, leverage advanced technologies and take advantage of technology transfer opportunities, he said.

The prototype Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ) was explained by panelist Brig. Gen. Marc E. Rogers, USAF, director, SJFHQ, JFCOM. Although warfighters and commands regularly practice how to operate together, often the first time decision makers really collaborate is when they are called to action in an operation. The SJFHQ concept is designed to address this issue. Currently, the objective is to refine the headquarters design then move it out to the combatant commands.

Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., USN, commander, JFCOM, was the closing speaker at the event. Transformation requires that technology, culture and joint training be integrated in a coherent way, he said. To do this, the command is leading transformation to support operations that produce coherent asymmetric power.

The admiral said that transformation is necessary to help build future capabilities and put the doctrines, operations strategies and training into place to support them.

Adm. Giambastiani reiterated the opinion expressed by many of the speakers and panelists that transformation involves technology as well as concepts, education, training and doctrine. He added that the correct term is “transforming,” not transformation, because it is a continuous process.

Current changes inform and are informed by force training and not just theory, the admiral emphasized. Senior military leaders believe in transforming the military, so the rate of change is accelerating. The challenge, Adm. Giambastiani said, is to determine how to deploy across the services all of the products of transformation, which include doctrine, training and concepts.

The transforming military poses some challenges to industry as well. The admiral stated that the services need nonproprietary solutions to solve interoperability issues. The commercial sector must emphasize capabilities-based spiral development processes, and partnerships between companies both large and small are important. Businesses must deliver capabilities that are born joint. In addition, they must streamline their processes and incorporate more innovation, reward risk taking and become more agile.