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West 2013 Coverage

Pacific Rebalancing Must Continue, With or Without Funding

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Whatever budget cuts are imposed on the U.S. military services, the strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region must be carried out. Global geopolitical events virtually require that the United States increase its presence to protect national interests in the increasingly dynamic region.

These points were emphasized in a special Wednesday luncheon town hall that featured service chiefs from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps, left no ambiguities in his assessment of the strategic shift.

“We need to stay the course with the [rebalancing] strategy,” he declared. “We may like to think that we’re done with the thorny ‘other things’ going on around the world, but they’re not done with us.”

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, USN, chief of naval operations, pointed out that the Navy will have 60 percent of its ships in home ports west of the Mississippi River. Yet, he emphasized, “there’s much more to it than ships.”

Gen. Amos cited the need to expand activities with partner nations and allies, as they can help U.S. missions in the region. Australia in particular knows South Pacific countries “very well,” he related.

“We need to be there to do presence missions and to influence good behavior,” the general stated. U.S. forces need to establish good relationships with trust so that nations know the United States will be there to help if needed.

Service Chiefs Fear Loss of Industrial Capability

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. defense industrial base may lose unique elements that could not be reconstituted later. This could deprive the U.S. military of vital capabilities permanently if new companies do not emerge to take their places.

That gloomy assessment was offered in a special Wednesday luncheon town hall that featured service chiefs from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, USN, chief of naval operations, described his worries about the sequestration and continuing resolution effects on the industrial base.

“Half of the nuclear vendors are single source,” he pointed out. “If they go under, I don’t know how we’ll get them back. How we will recover from that, I don’t know.”

Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps, extended that outlook to a significant loss of capability that some people think will not be needed. “People ask why we need a capability for forced entry [invasion],” he related. “It would be pretty naïve to think that, in the future, there won’t be a time and place when our nation says, ‘it’s time to impose our will’ and we need a force to enter a hostile place.” That capability might be lost when it is needed the most, he pointed out.

All of the services are faced with diverting funds to address key needs. However, even that may not be a viable short-term solution. Adm. Greenert said that, if the Navy does not obtain the funding along with the ability to reprogram it, ships will not be deployed in time and the fleet will not have the readiness it needs.

Chinese Navy Leads Country’s Reach Into the Pacific

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is serving as the primary vehicle to extend China’s influence deeper away from its borders. New and improved capabilities have transformed the navy into a force that can take on increasingly complex and distant military roles.

“The PLAN is at the tip of the Chinese spear,” said Dr. David M. Finkelstein, vice president and director, China studies, Center for Naval Analyses. Finkelstein was moderating a panel on the Chinese navy at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Other panelists offered their own assessments of the PLAN and its role in Chinese foreign affairs.

Capt. Jim Fanell, USN, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that the PLAN has become a very capable fighting force. PLAN maneuvers increasingly are about countering the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

“Make no mistake: the PLAN is focused on war at sea and sinking an opposing fleet,” Capt. Fanell said.

Dr. Toshi Yoshihara, professor and John A. van Beuren chair of Asia-Pacific Studies, Strategy and Policy, Naval War College, said that the key operational challenge is China’s family of land- and sea-based antiship missiles. China has been theorizing about the combined use of different missiles in antiship warfare for more than a decade, he related.

The PLAN has an anticarrier fleet, and it is considering broadening its strategy, Yoshihara added. He noted that China’s constant harassment of Japanese ships is introducing operational fatigue in Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and its coast guard.

China Behavior Increasingly Troublesome to Neighbors

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

As the People’s Republic of China grows in economic and military stature, it is generating ill will among neighbors who increasingly fear an expansionist budding superpower. Ironically, the greatest effect this is having on the Asia-Pacific region is that it is driving many nations into the arms of the United States.

This was just one of many observations offered by a panel on China at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. A mix of academics and military officers offered different perspectives on where China might be headed in the coming years.

Capt. Jim Fanell, USN, deputy chief of staff for intelligence and information operations, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that China has taken control of areas outside its borders that never have been administered to, or controlled by, any government of China in recent history. China’s coastal cutters seem to have no other mission than to harass others to submit to its territorial claims. The result is that the countries of East Asia “now remember why they like the United States,” he said.

Dr. Jacqueline Deal, president and chief executive officer, Long-Term Strategy Group, related how China’s foreign minister told then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that, “there are great powers, and there are small powers—and that’s a fact.” This statement amounted to tacit approval for the Middle Kingdom to push its neighbors around, Deal said.

Maj. Christopher I. Johnson, USMC, Olmsted scholar, Hong Kong University, and logistics officer, Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., observed that China’s leaders believe in hard power—“you cannot export soft power.” Yet, Johnson believes that China currently is a competitor, not an enemy.

Marines May Turn to Pacific Allies for Support Amid Budget Cuts

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps may tap the expertise of Asia-Pacific treaty allies and partners if the Corps faces draconian cuts in its budget. Items such as operations and maintenance conceivably could be assumed by other countries if funding is lost from sequestration and/or the continuing resolution.

Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps, discussed this possibility in a media interview at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. The general allowed that the Corps has been examining other countries’ capabilities as it prepares to increase its Asia-Pacific presence as part of the U.S. strategic rebalancing to that region.

No action has been taken yet because none of the services knows the extent of the budget cuts they will face, let alone where the ax will fall. The Marines are examining potential options for when they learn their fiscal fate.

One potential drawback, the general observed, is that some of these allies and partners have budget issues of their own. Some of our closest allies are looking at declining defense budgets, which would hinder their ability to assume some U.S. activities. Again, these determinations would be made after the Marine Corps is certain where cuts will occur.

Cybersecurity Measures Adjust to Emerging Capabilities

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The task of protecting U.S. military cyber assets is increasing in complexity as new capabilities come to dominate communications and networking. Planners must implement security measures that do not hinder the new technologies introduced to the force.

That challenge was in a cyber fireside chat that opened the final day of AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Robert J. Carey, deputy chief information officer for the U.S. Defense Department, noted that one key tasking is to protect the mobile devices that now are proliferating in the force.

One approach is to tie identity credentials to these devices, especially for them to access the cloud. “If we can’t do that, then we’ve created more of a problem than an answer,” he stated.

The Joint Information Environment (JIE) will help in overall network security, he continued. The department is aiming for “an exact fit” between how warfighters use the JIE and how the U.S. Cyber Command provides security for it.

One activity that will help is the consolidation of data centers. Reducing the number of these data centers by 90 percent will allow security personnel to single out anomalous behavior and to identify attacks more effectively with identification tied to data, Carey pointed out.

U.S. Cyber Force to Grow to 14,000 People

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Cyber Command force is likely to increase to 14,000 people over the next few years as the command trains experts and disperses them where they will be needed, according to its deputy commander. Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, USMC, told the audience at a morning fireside chat beginning the last day of AFCEA/USNI West 2013 that the command already has an assigned force of 6,000 as it ramps up to carry out its dynamic mission.

Most of these Cyber Command personnel are being trained to serve in the field—in this case, various military settings. The command is building teams for combatant commanders who will have operational control over these cyber experts.

The Cyber Command’s cyber protection platoons are a standardized cyber protection element, the general continued. And, national mission teams help defend the nation against cyber attack.

While these forces are undergoing detailed training, Gen. Davis lamented the lack of cyber schools that teach at the classified level. He emphasized that the command needs teaching at the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) level to build good cyber professionals.

Increased Cyber Funding Will Come at a Cost

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Most defense experts foresee that funding for cyber activities either will increase or, at worst, remain flat when the upcoming fiscal crisis hits. However, that growth in funding will draw money from other defense areas, according to a group of cyber leaders.

A panel on cybersecurity offered several perspectives on the issue of cost versus risk at the West conference on Wednesday. Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer (CIO) for the Department of the Navy, declared plainly that there is no new money; there is less. If the services spend more on cyber, then it will have to come from somewhere else.

Robert J. Carey, deputy Defense Department CIO, said that the budget effects will be severe. He noted that the standup of the Cyber Command incorporated personnel from all of the services, and cyber defense and offense are a nascent capability that continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

Halvorsen added that the Navy will need to make decisions in the short term that will not be good in the long term. Addressing industry, he asked, “How can you help me make the least-dumb decisions quicker?”

Financial Sector Likely Number One Cyber Target

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The first shot in a war may be a cyber attack on the U.S. financial sector. By crippling the economic abilities of the nation, an enemy could wreak more long-term havoc on the United States than by hitting an element of the critical infrastructure alone.

That was the assessment of Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of the Navy. Halvorsen offered this view in panel on balancing cost with risk in the cyber realm, which was held Wednesday at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego.

Fellow panelist Rear Adm. Robert E. Day Jr., USCG, assistant commandant for C4IT and director, U.S. Coast Guard Cyber Command, noted that when the critical infrastructure is attacked, it will be a problem for the U.S. military. The panelists agreed that cybersecurity in all vital realms must be addressed to ensure national security.

And, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for cybersecurity, even within the military. Halvorsen told industry to bring options to the table, including those for tiered security.

Fiscal Crisis Threatens Military Recruitment, Retention

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The looming fiscal crisis that threatens to eviscerate defense budgets may be starting to have an effect on the personnel who are on active duty. Some service members are beginning to question what impact the budget cuts will have on their units, and others are concerned that force reductions might affect their own military goals.

A Wednesday panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 on "what will it take to keep the best of the best" related how the uncertainty is beginning to grip the force. Navy leaders cannot address these concerns in large part because they do not know exactly which catastrophic budget scenario will unfold.

Lt. Cmdr. (sel) Andrew B. Koy Sr., USN, deputy executive assistant, commander, Naval Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet, said that the Navy must empower its leadership teams with honest assessments. He related that a 2nd class petty officer already had asked what the continuing resolution would mean for his ship.

That level of awareness among sailors illustrates the concern they have for ramifications from the budget cuts. Lt. Brendan O. Negle, USN, officer, Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization, added that the information is available, so even junior sailors will draw their own conclusions.

Panel moderator Vice Adm. James M. Zortman, USN (Ret.), former commander, Naval Air Forces, noted that this uncertainty comes at a time of significant and unrelated change. He pointed out that, for the first time in U.S. history, the country is coming out of an extended conflict and will be reconstituting the force using volunteers exclusively.

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