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Huge Changes Abound in the Joint World

May 2011
By Kent R. Schneider, SIGNAL Magazine

Throughout history, armed forces have faced the challenge of working together effectively. In the United States, the Defense Department has been working to make joint operations more effective since the origins of its armed forces, but the government institutionalized joint requirements in 1986 with the introduction of the Goldwater-Nichols Act. In Europe, NATO was created in the wake of World War II, built on the premise that the member nations were stronger together than individually and that an integrated joint approach was necessary.

Several years ago, when AFCEA first began discussions with the U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) on the program content for the then-new Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach, Gen. James Mattis, USMC, then-commander of both JFCOM and NATO Supreme Allied Command Transformation, made clear to us that “Joint” now meant much more than just military services working and fighting together. In this world of diverse threats, asymmetric warfare and broader missions, Joint includes, and is most challenged by, the need to work with civil agencies, coalition partners, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in addition to the other military services. Such an expansion requires an entirely new doctrine and definition of information exchange requirements among all these players. In the United States, a body of new Joint doctrine has emerged over the past two years. In NATO, a strategic review of the entire alliance has been conducted over the same period.

This year and in the near future, this expanded joint environment will see the most profound change since 1986. The addition of cyber as a warfighting domain has stimulated the creation of the new U.S. Cyber Command. JFCOM is being disbanded. In the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) arena in the United States, the assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration (ASD NII) organization in the Defense Department is going away, and the chief information officer (CIO) office is being restructured. The J-6 on the Joint Staff is being eliminated, and its functions are being redistributed. New relationships are being established with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other federal civil agencies involved in asymmetric warfare and counterterrorism. And, in Europe, NATO—as a result of its strategic planning—is about to go through the most fundamental restructuring in its history. Similar, but less profound, changes are occurring in other parts of the world as each nation reconciles its defense and security roles. It is incumbent upon each of us to understand these changes, to understand their impact on planning and conducting joint operations, and to understand how our role changes in supporting this community.

The Joint Warfighting Conference being held this year, from May 10 to 12 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia Beach, Virginia, originally was designed to help government, industry and academia understand better the evolution of joint doctrine. This is a transition year for that conference, just as it is for the joint community. JFCOM remains involved, but for the final year. The JFCOM component commands have become more involved, as has NATO Allied Command Transformation. The U.S. Cyber Command has been added to the program to address its new role in the joint arena.

This will be a strong program, and much of it will address the change that is occurring in the joint community. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, USA, commander of JFCOM, is talking about the changes occurring in the joint community. He also is discussing joint operations in Iraq, where he was the last commander of full military operations. We also have Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, USA (Ret.), former International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander in Afghanistan, who is talking about the unique challenges of Afghanistan operations as part of a NATO-led multinational team.

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought out all of the emerging characteristics of joint operations, including profound inter-agency and coalition command and control, intelligence and information-sharing requirements. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are interesting because they have brought together nontraditional partners in the coalition fight, straining command and control and intelligence systems and networks and introducing information-sharing policy and execution challenges on a scale never experienced before.

A lot of change is taking place. Don’t miss out. Join us in Virginia Beach for what is bound to be one of the best discussions ever of the evolving nature of joint operations and what we need to do to support them.