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East Joint Warfighting 2013

New Funding Rules Call for New Thinking

May 16, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Robert O. Work, former undersecretary of the Navy, and current chief executive officer, Center for a New American Security, spoke frankly about the state of the military’s financial circumstances and shared his opinion about the next steps. The final keynote speaker at East: Joint Warfighting 2013 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, pointed out that this is not the first time the U.S. military has felt a budget crunch and the time for sounding the alarm has not yet arrived. Explaining that fiscal year 2013 is only the third year of a drawdown in funding, Work stated that the cuts have not yet bottomed out.

The most troubling issue may be that the bottom is not yet clearly apparent. However, Work predicted that tight budgets are likely to be around for the next four to nine years, unless something, such as another large national security threat, occurs to change it.

One difference between past and today’s budget cuts is the existence of the all-volunteer military. Personnel expenses are among the highest cost to the U.S. Defense Department. During the Vietnam era, troops were more than willing to leave the service when their military stint was up. However, today, the combination of more opportunities and the country’s economic crisis has resulted in service members who voluntarily joined the military staying in. To add to this conundrum, the department does not want to ask any of these talented, bright people to leave, so the cost of maintaining the military will remain high.

Attempting to balance the budget between what Congress is willing to approve and what the military needs to operate solely by implementing efficiencies “is a bunch of crap,” Work said. “It’s not as easy as people think.” Cutting procurement and research and development spending is the worst approach, he added, because these will only lead to larger expenditures in the future.

Procurement Processes Must Progress

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Acquisition reform has never been a hotter topic than it is now in light of recent budget cuts. A panel led by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson, USA (Ret.), former U.S. Army chief information officer (G-6), and partner, A.T. Kearney Public Sector and Defense Services LLC, tackled this topic, offering ideas about how to get solutions to operators faster even in this resource constrained environment.

Gen. Sorenson started the conversation by pointing to a past acquisition program—the Joint Tactical Radio System—that does not meet the needs of today. The program took too long and cost too much, he said. To avoid these types of failures in the future, the general suggested that the military learn some lessons from how industry conducts procurement. Rather than frequently changing its requirements when it is in search of a solution, industry identifies core requirements and then sticks with them through the development process. In addition, the commercial sector does not set up numerous regulations that must be followed, which only extends procurement times. Finally, compared to the military’s 228 steps from the concept to the end state of a product, the commercial sector’s acquisition steps are in the range of 50. This abbreviated process speeds up the ability to deliver “good enough” solutions before they become obsolete, Gen. Sorenson said.

Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, USN, commander, Naval Warfare Development Command (NWDC), related that his organization hits some of these goals by beginning the procurement process with well thought-out concepts. These concepts must fit well with the overall strategy, he added. In addition, the NWDC asks for input from the operators upfront to ensure solutions that are being considered will meet their needs when they are introduced into the field. Despite this solid approach, the admiral admitted that it is not an easy job. “Can you innovate within a bureaucracy? That’s a hard thing to do,” Adm. Kraft stated.

U.S. Defense Department Did Not Apply Lessons from Vietnam to Operations in Afghanistan and Iraq

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Despite the Vietnam War experience, the United States military was ill prepared for the fighting it faced in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the opinion Lt. Col. John A. Nagl, USA (Ret.), nonresident senior fellow, Center for a New American Security, and Minerva Research fellow, U.S. Naval Academy, shared with attendees at the final morning keynote address at East: Joint Warfighting 2013.

While Operation Desert Storm was the type of war the United States wanted to fight since its failure in Vietnam, it was a military success without victory, because Iraq’s leadership stayed in power. “The first Iraq war was necessary; this one is not,” Col. Nagl said. “Good intentions do not always result in favorable outcomes.”

The counterinsurgency lessons from fighting in Southeast Asia were not truly learned, because they were not applied to the fight in Southwest Asia until Gen. David Petraeus, USA, was called into action. And although operations in Iraq can be considered somewhat of a success because some stability has occurred, the jury is still out about whether the same can be said about operations in Afghanistan, Col. Nagl related. “Will Afghanistan end up like Vietnam … or an untidy success like Iraq?” he asked.

The colonel believes the U.S. military must continue to prepare for missions that are more counterinsurgent in nature. Counterinsurgency wars are long and messy, but these are the types of wars the U.S. is mostly likely to face in the future, he said.

Even Radical Change Occurs Incrementally for the Military

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Discussing the topic of incremental change versus radical change, the Wednesday panel at East: Joint Warfighting spoke about the need for flexibility and agility. While making radical changes in operational strategies or tactics could be somewhat beneficial, it is more important to change at a reasonable pace but be ready and able to adjust quickly to deal with unexpected challenges, panelists said.

Panelist Lt. Gen. Christopher Miller, USAF (Ret.), former deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs, U.S. Air Force, pointed out that it was relatively easy to describe threats in the past, but today the threat spectrum is all over the place. Relative success, particularly in the air, has increased public and political expectations. However, because this level of success may not persist in the future, change is necessary but difficult. “Nothing makes it easier not to change than success,” he stated.

Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, USN, director for operations (J-3), Joint Staff, offered a different point of view. While many speak of the future in terms of doom and gloom, he believes that austerity is a relative term when it comes to resources. No matter the budget, allies will continue to rely on U.S. forces. And while change is necessary, established doctrine limits how fast the military can make changes, the admiral said.

That said, the admiral pointed out that one shift that will occur is the relationship between the U.S. government and the military. In the past, political leaders gave the military a mission and the resources to accomplish that mission. Now, the military will explain to political leaders what it can accomplish with the resources it has been given, he stated.

Troubled Economy Leads to Success in Recruiting, Challenges in Motivation

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Members of a panel of junior officers at East: Joint Warfighting focused on operating in the new environment and spoke about how the current fiscal constraints are affecting the troops. In some cases, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the overall national economic downturn is posing challenges associated with success. In others, the lack of training funds is putting troops in some very tight spots.

Lt. D.F. Flusche, USCG, commanding officer, Coast Guard Cutter Block Island, explained that one of the Coast Guard junior officers’ biggest challenges right now is keeping troops motivated. Because of an influx in new recruits, a logjam at the middle career range means that younger Coast Guardsmen cannot advance as quickly in their careers.

This situation is likely to continue for some time; however, the Coast Guard is instituting some practices that will help. For example, the job performance and timeliness of advancements of Coast Guardsmen with 20 years in the service is being scrutinized more carefully. If the service record is not exceptional, a Coast Guardsman may be asked to retire at the 20-year mark. In addition, for fiscal year 2014, only 1,000 new recruits will be admitted into the service.

To ensure that Coast Guardsmen just beginning their careers remain motivated, Lt. Flusche recommends keeping the lines of communication open with regards to the ground truth of the possibility of advancing by remaining in the service. For those who would like to stay in, the lieutenant recommends that they increase their proficiency in the service with “total craft knowledge.” This means they should take courses, volunteer for less desirable duties and work on standing out from the pack. “The biggest thing is to tell your people to be patient. The pendulum will swing the other way,” he stated.

TRADOC Leader Describes Lessons Learned, Future of Warfare

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

The keynote speaker at the East: Joint Warfighting 2013 Wednesday lunch, Gen. Robert W. Cone, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, highlighted the progression from network-centric warfare to the Army’s digital divisions and rapid decisive operations in Iraq. In addition, the general discussed lessons learned, pointing to the conclusion that the nature of war remains a clash of wills and is inherently human.

The military also learned that it is impossible to predict the level to which humans can adapt. Gen. Cone said that coalition fighting in Southwest Asia showed a lack of understanding of this human equation of war. “Unless we pick this up as a key lesson, we’re going to come apart. We need to prepare the land forces so they have a good understanding of the human domain. The lesson was that we weren’t prepared for the human dimension [of the conflict],” the general said.

These are not criticisms of operations but rather lessons that will help the military—in particular the Army—prepare for future conflicts. For example, everything the military does must be linked to national security objectives the general said. If a tactic or idea works, the adversary will continue to use it, including kinetic and cyber. The range of military operations must extend from support to influencing human behavior, Gen. Cone said. To support these kinds of missions, the Army is aligning its force structure with the combatant commands’ needs.

Coalition in the Face of Change

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Members of a Wednesday morning panel at East: Joint Warfighting discussing the state of coalitions described the way participants, participation and contributions have changed since the term itself hit the modern scene in the early 1990s.

Vice Adm. William Douglas Crowder, USN (Ret.), former deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategy, and president, Crowder Strategies and Solutions LLC, began the conversation by posing several pertinent questions, including whether the term “coalition” has lost its punch in recent years. For example, former Vice President Dick Cheney almost exclusively referred to “coalition operations” in Afghanistan, whereas today’s politicians are more likely to use the term “U.S. forces.”

This point led to Adm. Crowder’s second question to the panel, which asked the panelists to address whether the term coalition remains a military term or whether it is now simply a political term. The admiral’s final question may have been aimed at technology—whether or not coalitions force all to operate at the lowest common denominator—but resulted in panelists pointing out that technology is only one element that allies bring to operations. The others, such as knowledge of languages and cultures, are just as important and have proved to be crucial in many multinational missions.

NATO Leader Calls for Embracing Innovation

May 15, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Gen. Mieczyslaw Bieniek, Polish Army, opened the second day of East: Joint Warfighting 2013 by inviting military leaders from all nations to leave their comfort zones and embrace innovation. Gen. Bieniek, who is the deputy supreme allied commander transformation for NATO, said that the security model for the future requires a new attitude toward partnering and innovation. “Many talk about innovation. Few actually innovate,” the general stated.

Innovation requires a radical paradigm shift. But while military leaders often like to share stories about great advances and changes corporate leaders have made in the commercial sector, few are comfortable taking those kinds of risks in their own commands.“The status quo is no longer an option,” Gen. Bieniek stated. Change will have to occur both in the U.S. military services as well as NATO forces.

One source of change at the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is the ACT Innovation Hub. This collaborative space for experts opened its doors only four weeks ago and already has 250 participants, the general shared. These out-of-the-box thinkers already are using this forum to discuss and find new ways to apply the technologies people are willing to embrace in their personal lives, such as social media, to the professional arena, where leaders are much more uncomfortable adopting them.

Leadership is the most important element of encouraging innovation, Gen. Bieniek said, because leaders who embrace it set the tone for innovation acceptance. Meeting future security needs will require the militaries from all nations to be agile, and this can best be achieved by being “co-creative,” he added.

East: Joint Warfighting 2013 continues at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, today and tomorrow.

Cyber Protection and Defense Still Poses Thorny Questions

May 14, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Wrapping up the panels for the first day of East: Joint Warfighting 2013 was a topic that’s on everyone’s mind: cyber. The topic was the militarization of cyber, particularly in a time when networks from military to education to commercial are the victims of enemies at an increasing amount each day. While participants agreed that additional protection and defense is needed, not all concurred on what organization should have the power or responsibility.

Franklin Kramer, former assistant secretary of defense, International Security Affairs, and board director, Atlantic Council, opened the discussion by pointing out that cybersecurity goes beyond protecting and defending U.S. military networks as joint operations take place in host nations, and coalition operations require trust, sharing and security. The increase in attacks on commercial networks within the United States also demonstrates that more network security is required within the country.

While Vice Adm. Herb Browne, USN (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Space Command, agreed on the need for security, he does not believe that it is the role of the military to take on cybersecurity for the nation. Citing that many other organizations already exist to protect government and commercial networks, the admiral argued that the U.S. Defense Department has a big enough job securing its own networks. He agreed, however, with Vice Adm. Robert C. Parker, USCG, commander, Atlantic Area, and commander, Defense Force East, that during crises, the Defense Department is excellent at providing support and vetting other organizations that offer their services.

Fewer Dollars Mean Lower Readiness

May 14, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor

Taking a look at the long-term effects of the current budget crunch, military participants in this afternoon’s East: Joint Warfighting 2013 panel agreed that the hits military equipment are taking as a result of reduced funding and furloughs will ultimately affect force readiness. However, some civilians on the panel believe that resources approved in the past have been enough to keep U.S. forces adequately equipped for the near future.

Moderating the panel session, Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, senior fellow, CNA Corporation, and former comptroller, U.S. Defense Department, asked representatives from many of the services sitting on the panel to share their views on current and future results of reduced resources. Vice Adm. William R. Burke, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems, N-9, Naval Operations, pointed out that both furloughs and decreases in hiring within the shipbuilding industry could decrease readiness up to 40 percent. In addition, without training funding for troops preparing to deploy to current operations, readiness is sinking deeper into the “bathtub,” a situation that will be harder to climb out of as time goes on. “We are robbing the future to pay for today,” he stated.

Reflecting opinions expressed earlier today, Maj. Gen. Karen E. Dyson, USA, director, budget, U.S. Army, said that maintenance of equipment and facilities deferred now will end up costing more in the long run. Also, because training dollars are drying up, warfighters who are unable to learn about the latest technologies and use them in new tactics could lead to a situation that will end up costing more—in dollars and readiness—in the future.

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