Innovative Approaches Key to Warfighting, Military Posture

April 2007
By Robert K. Ackerman and Beverly P. Mowery
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Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani gives the kickoff address at West 2007.
Prevailing in Iraq and in the Global War on Terrorism dominates most military planning today, but other challenges loom on the horizon. One element linking all of these issues is the unconventional thinking it may take to maintain military supremacy and meet the difficulties confronting the Free World.

Far-ranging discussions on these points were front and center at West 2007, the annual conference and exposition sponsored by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute. Held January 31-February 2 in San Diego, the event opened with a speech by the man whom many Americans associate with leadership under terrible duress in the Global War on Terrorism—former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Mayor Giuliani’s kickoff speech launched the three-day conference, which was titled “Swords and Diplomacy: How Do We Build the Right Military to Fight, Win and Influence?”

Giuliani told a standing-room-only crowd that the Global War on Terrorism had been ongoing for many years prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks on his home city. The same enemy responsible for those attacks struck at the WorldTradeCenter in 1993, he pointed out, and that represented only the first assault on U.S. soil. Terrorist attacks on the West date back to the 1970s, and he cited the German government’s release of the Munich Olympics massacre terrorists and Italy’s later release of the murderers of American Achille Lauro cruise ship passenger Leon Klinghoffer as “empowering the terrorists.”

Until the September 11 attacks, the West was entirely on the defensive, treating terrorism as a crime and reacting only symbolically—if at all—to terrorist acts. But after the WorldTradeCenter was destroyed, the United States took the offensive and changed its approach to terrorism. The country must continue to take the fight to the terrorists to prevent them from regaining the initiative, he stated.

Giuliani addressed the Iraq War, saying that if the United States withdraws now, it will put itself in a more dangerous position to be attacked by terrorists. Mistakes have been made, he stated, but no war ever has been conducted without the winning side having made serious mistakes. He related how President Abraham Lincoln saw the Union Army lose every battle of the first three years of the Civil War, but his optimism and vision fought through to a victory two years later. The Civil War “went a lot more wrong” than Iraq, Giuliani analogized, and he offered his views on how important leadership is to prevailing in today’s war.

Difficult endeavors require trial and error, he declared, and he warned against shying away from an effort just because it is difficult. One key quality of leadership is to have a set of beliefs or a plan. Another is to be optimistic and to think success. Many people who look at Iraq today are pessimists who see only the setbacks and don’t acknowledge the advances that have taken place, he charged. President Lincoln may have been clinically depressed, but he maintained his optimism about success in the Civil War—although Giuliani commented, “Thank goodness for Lincoln they didn’t have CNN.”

That optimism is key because the terrorists hope to break the U.S. national will, the former mayor stated. They believe that Americans are weak and that the key to the terrorists’ victory is for the American people to lose heart over the long haul. “It is up to us to prove them wrong,” Giuliani declared.

Lt. Col. John Nagl, USA, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, Fort Riley, holds up a counterinsurgency manual issued by the U.S. Army (FM 3-24) and the U.S. Marine Corps (MCWP 3-33.5). This manual, which was put together with input from many nontraditional sources, offers new tactics for dealing with the Iraqi insurgency.
The key to defeating the ongoing insurgency in Iraq might lie in a new manual compiled by the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. Lt. Col. John Nagl, USA, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, Fort Riley, Kansas, discussed the counterinsurgency manual issued by the Army (FM 3-24) and the Marines (MCWP 3-33.5). This manual, which includes input from a variety of military and nonmilitary experts who met at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, could provide valuable guidelines to help U.S. forces prevail in Iraq, the colonel offered. The U.S. military has needed a coherent doctrine for all parts of the force to operate together, and it has it in this manual, he said.

The U.S. military is hampered by traditional thinking, but to defeat the Iraqi insurgency, it must view the enemy in the proper light. Col. Nagl stated that this enemy is a network, and defeating a network requires being a network and understanding networks. In Iraq, the allied coalition is fighting a network of networks, he declared. In fact, jihadists already have translated this counterinsurgency manual and have posted segments on the Web in Arabic.

Key to defeating the insurgency is obtaining intelligence on the enemy, the colonel said. But another vital element is obtaining the support of the public at large. The insurgency knows this. Col. Nagl offered that the allies must target Americans and different segments of the Iraqi people with information operations, and he called for the re-establishment of the U.S. Information Agency in the form in which it operated during the Cold War, when it was highly effective.

Several audience members questioned whether the manual was comprehensive enough to be useful. One questioner pointed out that the manual lacked any substantive mention of potential enabling technologies. Col. Nagl explained that officials are at work on a revision that will take technologies into account, and he added that the application of technology to this problem is essential to success.

Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN, describes the varied hurdles that he faces as commander of the U.S. Southern Command.
A wide variety of missions that involve homeland security and homeland defense characterizes the activities of the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), according to its commander. Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN, told a luncheon crowd how the conference theme truly applied to operations in his area of responsibility.

“Our operations are a balance between swords and diplomacy,” he stated.

The countries that constitute Central America and South America are not in the U.S. backyard, or even the front yard—they are in the house with us, he claimed. And, they are important trading partners as about 40 percent of all U.S. trade flows north and south of the country’s borders.

The countries of the Caribbean and South America have made great progress politically over the past 30 years. Instead of most nations being totalitarian states often run by juntas, as was the case three decades ago, today all but one—Cuba—are democracies. However, many problems that challenge those countries also concern SOUTHCOM.

Foremost among these is poverty. As much as 40 percent of the region’s populace lives on $1 a day. These countries with many poor also tend to have a wealthy segment that illustrates the extremes of their societies. And, many of these nations face transnational threats such as drug production and smuggling, terrorism, corruption, urban gangs and natural disasters.

The major danger involves narcotics, especially because 25,000 Americans die each year from drugs or drug-related activities. Interdicting drug flow is similar to antisubmarine warfare, the admiral pointed out. It involves finding a platform that does not want to be found.

Some of these challenges can be addressed by military-to-military contacts, the admiral observed. The 1,000-ship navy concept—in which allies network their navies to produce a giant ad hoc force—is “made for South America,” he said. Countries such as Chile and Argentina have great navies that have performed superbly in joint exercises with their U.S. counterparts.

However, the difficulties in implementing that concept elsewhere also plague SOUTHCOM. The United States must develop better ways of communicating and sharing information with its allies, Adm. Stavridis charged. The greatest needs are for systems and intelligence that can be shared with these allies.

The command also needs language facility, the admiral offered. While waiting for artificial intelligence techniques to progress for broad translation capabilities, the admiral stated that his goal is for 70 percent of all operators to be able to speak either Spanish or Portuguese.

Vice Adm. Charles D. Wurster, USCG, discusses the Coast Guard’s multifaceted challenges and programs.
Vice Adm. Charles D. Wurster, USCG, commander, Coast Guard Pacific Area, described the U.S. Coast Guard’s ongoing activities in support of both homeland defense and homeland security. These include force transformation and modernization, interoperability efforts with domestic government organizations and complex international agreements.

“We’ve only scratched the surface of border security,” he declared.

Recent accomplishments include groundbreaking agreements with the U.S. Northern Command, a national maritime response plan and progress with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on automated ship identification. But, much remains to be done, he cautioned, and many factors will affect U.S. maritime issues for years to come.

Maritime regimes, maritime domain awareness and maritime operations make up those factors. In the same manner that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has its secure border initiative for land, Adm. Wurster called for a “secure border initiative–wet.” The nation needs a single credentialing system to serve as a screening tool for vessels entering U.S. waters, he added.

The Coast Guard is internationally involved both through global agreements and through bilateral pacts. The IMO recently established the protocols for 300-gross-ton ships to be identified at sea. Bilateral agreements with Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico have helped counterdrug operations. When drug smuggling becomes the fundraising activity of choice for terrorists, these agreements will play important roles in the Global War on Terrorism, the admiral noted.

The Coast Guard’s modernization efforts focus on a “strategic triad” of shore-based forces, mobile forces and deployable forces. The centerpiece is its Deepwater program, which Adm. Wurster described as “the eyes and ears” for the maritime domain. He conceded that the Coast Guard has had difficulty in getting the results it wants with that program, but the commandant is addressing the problem. This initiative takes the Coast Guard’s restructuring into account, he added.

If Deepwater is the Coast Guard’s eyes and ears out at sea, its command centers serve as the eyes and ears of U.S. coastal waterways, the admiral offered. Three of them are operational in Hampton Roads, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; and San Diego. However, their common operational picture must grow to include state and local agencies, he said.

U.S. Defense Department information official David Wennergren outlines the department’s data strategy.
The U.S. Defense Department’s strategy for the new digital era is changing in the midst of the network-centric transformation. David Wennergren, deputy assistant secretary of defense for information management and technology and deputy Defense Department chief information officer, told the show’s only breakfast audience that the old construct of interconnected networks must give way to an entirely new type of architecture.

As networks grew, their interrelationships and lines of access and connectivity often became so complex and convoluted that their form shapes could not be sustained. Instead of a Tinker toy nightmare, Wennergren offered, the new model should be that of a plasma ball—a single source of information that could be interconnected in any direction.

“The world is not about separate networks,” he said.

But many tasks must be accomplished to achieve this goal. Data must be available to be consumed in a standard way. Configuration management is vital for operators to know the system fully. The department still must weed its way through software to determine what it needs and what it doesn’t need.

Some recent measures have helped key aspects of information. Rationalizing networks, which helped configuration management greatly and saved money, additionally has aided infrastructure security measures. Information assurance also has been enabled by common access cards, the use of which has reduced the information security threat. Biometrics continues to be a growth area for the Defense Department, Wennergren added.

He called for an innovative partnership with industry. In this Web-based world, the department must align with standards and open architectures. For its strategic planning, it must accelerate the development of a network-centric culture. The department also must network the warfighter, make information a force multiplier, facilitate warfighter access to intelligence and secure the network.

“Everything’s going digital,” Wennergren declared. “It’s all about moving to the Web.”

Vice Adm. Mark J. Edwards, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks, N-6, gives a keynote address on new information technology initiatives for the U.S. Navy.
The power of new information technologies was demonstrated to a keynote address audience by Vice Adm. Mark J. Edwards, USN, deputy chief of naval operations for communication networks, N-6. Adm. Edwards took a broad view of the information technology revolution and described numerous opportunities to implement sweeping new capabilities throughout the U.S. Navy. Instead of merely building on existing technologies, the Navy would explore wholly new applications, the admiral indicated.

Adm. Edwards showed a screenshot of a standard Navy online video that looked proper, well designed and unremarkable. About 300 people had viewed this video, he said. Then, right next to it, he presented a video that was put together by Navy personnel in carrier airborne early warning squadron VAW-116. Titled “Pump It,” the five-minute video set to rock music had been viewed on YouTube more than 400,000 times, and it had earned four stars from reviewers.

The admiral continued that the Navy has not kept pace with technology growth, but many of the people coming into the Navy have. Not only must the Navy tap their expertise, it also must create an environment in which they will flourish. The technology-savvy Millennium Generation, which comprises people younger than age 25, tends to focus on cutting-edge technology and collaboration. Those and other qualities of that generation are the N-6’s focus, he said.

The Navy is spending more money on information technology than industry, but it is not getting its money’s worth, the admiral charged. The leading causes of this shortfall are legacy systems and systems that do not give the Navy substantial payback, he added. It is imperative that the Navy closes the gap with industry in part by drawing solutions from industry.

While the early bird may get the worm, he observed, the Navy should apply a different animal analogy. “The second mouse gets the cheese,” he emphasized. “We want to be the second mouse and feed off of industry.”

The Navy is sorely lacking in sufficient bandwidth, and it must improve its networks to provide enough bandwidth with secure links to ensure effective operations, Adm. Edwards declared. Otherwise, the sea service will become the service-least-gone-to for commanding forces in the field. Without better information technology, the Navy may never become a joint task force commander, the admiral warned.

The first West 2007 panel dove into the Iraq War as it focused on operational lessons learned and solutions. Panel moderator Maj. Gen. David L. Grange, USA (Ret.), president and chief executive officer, McCormick Tribune Foundation, stated that the new troop surge may be the last chance for the United States to produce an outcome favorable to the American people.

Col. Michael A. Shupp, USMC, chief of staff for the Joint IED Defeat Organization and a former commander of a Marine regimental combat team and a Marine regiment, related how Iraqi forces acquitted themselves well fighting alongside Marines. Stories of the Iraqis’ bravery have not been told here, he said.

Echoing Col. Shupp’s stories about Iraqi forces’ heroism, Col. Nagl described how finding the insurgents is harder than fighting them. The solution to defeating the insurgency is not more power but better intelligence, he offered.

Brig. Gen. (Sel.) Michael Callan, USAF, commander, Air Force Special Operations Forces, and director of operations, Air Force Special Operations Command, gave a U.S. Air Force perspective to the fight in Iraq. He said that among the key lessons learned is that more simple command and control architectures are the ones that enable ground commanders to bring maximum air power to bear.

Cmdr. Steve Wisotzki, USN, chief of staff, Naval Special Warfare Group One, and the former commander of SEAL Team 1, outlined how Navy SEALs conducted operations in Al Anbar province, which he described as the most dangerous region in Iraq. He noted that having women in special operations forces gave those forces access to women in towns, which proved very helpful. Al-Qaida largely has been run out of Al Anbar, and “the prognosis is good” that they will not regain their previous position. Nonkinetic means now make the most effective operations, he added.

But much of the panel’s discussion focused on the role and influence of the media in that conflict. A consensus seemed to emerge from all of the panelists that the news media largely has covered the war well from the battlefield.

Col. Shupp lauded the work of embedded media in covering the troops, although these reporters often share the military’s frustrations about how their stories are edited back home. Col. Nagl seconded his remarks, but Gen. Callan stated that not all reporting from the front has been good and that positive stories are not always being told back home.

Gen. Grange agreed that many reporters do not get to choose what is put on television or how their print stories are edited. He said that the television producers are the ones who decide how the field journalists’ reports are presented, if at all, and those producers may be acting on their own personal opinions.

An individual in the audience who described himself as a member of the media but did not identify himself took umbrage at Gen. Grange’s comments. He angrily condemned the general for accusing the media of bias, especially as so many reporters have given their lives covering the war. Gen. Grange apologized to the man for giving that impression, but he defended his statement that not all field reporters covering the Iraq War can control how their reportage is presented.

Cmdr. Wisotzki added that the U.S. media is only part of the war coverage. Mideast media, particularly outlets such as Al Jazeera, are carrying the coverage for Arabs in that region. Their viewers do not trust U.S. media sources, so the United States must put more energy into working with Arab media.

One panel focusing on the 1,000-ship navy concept turned into a lively discussion about whether the U.S. Navy could even sustain its shipbuilding. Noted author and panel moderator Norman Polmar warned that the U.S. government faces some difficult decisions for its 313-ship future fleet. It must determine whether the Navy is building the right types of ships, especially with no foreign navy peer on the horizon. Another key issue is whether the $11 billion currently spent on shipbuilding each year will be sufficient—or even is sustainable.

Lt. Col. Frank Hoffman, USMC (Ret.), a research fellow at the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities, bluntly stated that “tomorrow’s fleet is at risk.” The Navy may not be getting its fair share of defense funding for the long haul. The retired Marine lieutenant colonel offered that the 313-ship architecture may not be right for the Navy’s new strategy, which must include maritime security. He also called for increasing amphibious capabilities. All told, the Navy may require a $15 billion floor annually for shipbuilding, he added.

But Col. Hoffman’s bluntness was exceeded by the harsh admonishments of Eric J. Labs, senior analyst for naval forces and weapons at the Congressional Budget Office’s National Security Division. Labs painted a gloomy picture of Navy shipbuilding from both fiscal and logistical perspectives.

He called the goal of 313 ships by 2020 “disingenuous.” Two-thirds of that number already are in the fleet or are under construction. But even if the Navy could achieve its 313-ship goal, it couldn’t sustain it past 2027, he said. Surface combatants are being decommissioned faster than they are being replaced. And, by 2037 the number of ships in the fleet will be as small as it is today because some types of ships and submarines will leave the fleet without any replacements planned.

Labs went beyond Hoffman in criticizing the $11 billion annual shipbuilding budget. Even the Navy believes it will need an average of $16 billion each year over the next 30 years, he pointed out. But Labs believes a more accurate number is $21 billion annually over 30 years. That figure likely will be unsustainable as domestic federal spending on items such as Medicare explodes over the coming years.

“You will have a smaller, less capable fleet,” he declared.

China was the inadvertent focal point of a panel titled “A Maritime Strategy for Asia-Pacific: What Are the Competing Priorities?” The international panel examined many issues involving the dozens of countries that compose that vast region. But, many of the conversations ultimately swung toward the emerging military and economic power that houses one-fifth of the world’s population.

A maritime strategy for the Asia-Pacific region was the topic of a panel featuring (l-r) Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt, USN (Ret.), director, Center for Strategic Studies, Center for Naval Analyses; Cdre. Jack McCaffrie, RANR, visiting fellow, Sea Power Centre; Lt. Gen. Wallace C. Gregson Jr., USMC (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Marine Forces Pacific; Rear Adm. Roger Girouard, CF, OMM, CD, commander, Maritime Forces Pacific (Canada); and panel moderator Capt. Peter Swartz, USN (Ret.), strategy and policy analyst, Center for Naval Analyses.
Rear Adm. Michael McDevitt, USN (Ret.), director of the Center for Strategic Studies, Center for Naval Analyses, decried misconceptions about China from both sides of the political spectrum. It is not an accurate description of the U.S./China relationship to view China as an enemy, he emphasized. China is not the Soviet Union. The United States and China have normal political and societal relationships. However, the two countries have competing strategies and are vying for influence in Southeast Asia. And, the cloud of war hovers over Taiwan, he stated.

China is undergoing a revolution in its military, the admiral declared. The country has spent 15 years developing a new doctrine, and every aspect of its military is changing dramatically. China began implementing this change in 1999, he noted, adding that the People’s Liberation Army is a learning organization full of “smart people in a stupid system.”

China has been using Soviet means to counter the U.S. Navy—surveillance, bombers with cruise missiles and submarines, for example. Other advances are on the way, including maneuverable warheads atop intercontinental ballistic missiles. With most of China’s unresolved external issues sitting in the maritime arena—Taiwan, offshore oil, sea-lane assurance—the country has an anti-access maritime strategy for conflict. By comparison, the United States has an access strategy for conflict, and the two approaches overlap each other in the western Pacific Ocean.

Rear Adm. Roger Girouard, CF, OMM, CD, commander, Maritime Forces Pacific (Canada), stated that China is increasing its commercial shipping operations to develop economic power. Ultimately, it may be able to establish prices and rates as it gets its exports to market. 

Adm. Girouard added that the concept of the 1,000-ship navy is not new, but its time is right in this new era. A window of opportunity exists to grow this 1,000-ship navy, he added, but the key issue is trust, not technology. Adm. Girouard noted that Canada is going through a major debate on the nature of its military and its roles in the world. Among these is a “guns or green” debate that will spread elsewhere in the Free World, he shared.

The key objective for Australia is security in vital maritime straits, according to Cdre. Jack McCaffrie, RANR, visiting fellow, Sea Power Centre. The Free World must facilitate the growth of small countries’ navies, as the growing strength of India’s and China’s navies will be a factor. In addition, the Free World must encourage the establishment and maintenance of good government in smaller countries, especially to combat the rampant corruption that plagues the Asia-Pacific region and inhibits economic and social development. Achieving this will require close links with these small countries, he added.

Retention of good people is central to a strong military, but in times of war, it is hard to develop individuals when they are pulled in many different ways. A group of service leaders addressed this challenge in a panel called “Warfighters: How Do We Develop and Retain 21st Century Enlisted Leaders?”

The panel featured Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Charles W. Bowen, USCG; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Joe R. Campa, USN; and Sgt. Maj. R. D. Himsworth, USMC, with former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Vince Paton III, USCG (Ret.), as its moderator. The panelists discussed a number of relevant issues.

Eighty percent of the military today is enlisted. These individuals not only need a career path that offers training and advancement, but with changing roles brought about by war, their families also need additional support. Providing adequate bandwidth is one method that helps families communicate and allows sailors to take online courses at sea, but supplying that bandwidth remains difficult.

Issues of education and family are important, but the services also have to ensure that individuals have the moral compass to make correct decisions in often-stressful situations, the panelists said. Good leaders who can deliver the technology and instill the necessary core values and competencies are essential.

Photography by Michael Carpenter. Additional West 2007 photos.