A Time of Change and Choices

May 14, 2013
By Maryann Lawlor
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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.

These changes lead to some crucial choices, the admiral said. In the political and cultural realms, the role of government must be determined. Military leaders must reach out to politicians and the public to better explain what the services do, why it is important and what is needed. While the general public has been extremely supportive over the past 12 years, the military cannot take this support for granted, the admiral emphasized.

While resources are on the decline now, Adm. Gortney believes economics is and always has been a sine wave, up at times and down at others. The Defense Department’s budget will increase again, and it must be ready. “The only way we’re going to get through this is to lead our way to the other side,” the admiral said. The department will have to make tough choices, and it will need the governance to make the right choices, he added.

Cybersecurity is one of Adm. Gortney’s greatest concerns. Because 100 percent of the nation’s work force is networked, connectivity is critical and therefore can be the United States’ Achilles' heel, he stated. He is more confident in the security of military networks than commercial ones, and he stressed that it is crucial to national security and the economy to determine who is responsible for keeping networks such as banking and utilities secure.

East: Joint Warfighting 2013 is taking place at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia, May 14-16.

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