CENTCOM Commander Joins JWC Attendees for Lunch Discussion

May 12, 2010
By Maryann Lawlor
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From what would only be referred to as "an undisclosed location," Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), joined the Joint Warfighting Conference for lunch via VTC. After only a few brief remarks, Gen. Petraeus opened the floor for questions and spoke eloquently off the cuff to questions on subjects that ranged from cyberspace to shortfalls. The general noted that the topic of the conference, "Combatant and Coalition Commanders: What Will They Need Five Years From Now?" is apropos, but at the same time, he has never met a combatant commander who hasn't insisted that he needs more of everything. That said, Gen. Petraeus revealed that CENTCOM identified several areas that need more attention in the near future. Among these items are improvements in counter intelligence, human intelligence and intelligence analysis; persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; counter IED tactics; and in-theater C4 capabilities. Beginning the questions from a packed luncheon audience was one that referred to ties between the recent New York Times Square foiled car bomb attempt and Pakistan. While he would not speak for the secretary of state, Gen. Petraeus admitted that about a year ago, most government officials, including those in Pakistan itself, recognized that the Pakistani Taliban posed some of the existing threats. Pakistani leaders have been conducting robust counter-insurgency activities that have been impressive, he stated, however, Pakistan's government will not "conduct a bulldozer operation" for massive destruction because it does not think that type of offensive is called for. To support their effort to deter insurgents, the U.S. has and will continue to provide transition and rebuilding funding as well as military financial assistance. On several occasions during the conference, the topic of information sharing-particularly among coalition partners-has come up. Gen. Petraeus stated that information sharing will continue to be a problem until a philosophical change takes place throughout militaries similar to the one started at CENTCOM: focus on the need to share, not the need to know. This approach requires that partners have a degree of confidence that those who receive information will not share it beyond limits, he added. In terms of technology, Gen. Petraeus pointed out that there are currently 18 different systems in Afghanistan alone. CENTCOM is determining how to integrate these systems to bring this number down so everyone has a common operational picture and a common intelligence picture. "This is a crucial point: That is one of those capabilities that we need in the future," the general said referring to C4 shortfalls. During the nearly one hour Gen. Petraeus spent with conference attendees, he candidly shared his opinions about other topics as well, including information operations, detainees in Guantanamo Bay and the role of contractors in the battlespace. He finished his comments by commending JWC participants for their work in this very difficult fight against terrorism.

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