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.
East Joint Warfighting 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, admitted that the U.S. Defense Department did not expect sequestration to happen, and he is becoming even less optimistic about the budget now. Department leaders are now “doing the best we can;” the lack of stability and lack of certainty are the primary challenges today.
Panelists discussing effective command and control in a contested environment at East: Joint Warfighting 2013 agreed that technology provides superb benefits but could be a severe vulnerability in the next battlespace. While the United States and its allies have experienced relatively little resistance from adversaries, this is sure to change in the future, and the military must be ready for it despite fiscal constraints.
Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, opened East: Joint Warfighting 2013 on Tuesday saying that the military and industry are facing a decade of change and choices. As the services are ramping down from combat mode, they are refocusing on the Pacific theater, which is more of an intellectual shift in Washington, D.C., than a military change, Adm. Gortney said. The second major change is economics, as the U.S. Defense Department faces a future where resources have been cut by 10 to 12 percent.
Budget sequestration has made obtaining government-mandated training more difficult—this despite government requirements that individuals earn continuing education units (CEUs) and certification maintenance units (CMUs)”to keep current in their professions. Many of the opportunities in the past were centered around large-scale, efficient training that could certify more people by bringing groups together. However, travel restrictions have complicated this centralized collaboration.
Coalition interoperability has received a good deal of focus during the past few years. The Afghan Mission Network (AMN) has given many hope that a repeatable solution for coalition operations could be developed that would allow rapid deployment of a coalition-compatible network for future conflicts. The Future Mission Network (FMN) is envisioned to allow coalition partners to plug into a standards-compliant network with the functionality and security needed to support complex operations.