Warfare Changes Its Stripes, But not Its Name

April 2001
By Robert K. Ackerman and Beverly P. Mowery
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Existing and future 21st century threats will take a different form, but they still will challenge the United States and its allies.

Winning the Wars of the 21st Century” was the appropriate theme of West 2001, the first western conference and exposition by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute in the new millennium. The first of three days of panel discussions and distinguished speaker addresses generated lively debate over how to prepare for—and deter—war in an uncertain era.

Adm. Dennis C. Blair, USN, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command, cited three vital focus areas in his keynote address: geopolitics, technology and budgeting. The admiral noted that geopolitics has changed so much in the post-Cold-War era that no single contingency can dominate planning. On the other hand, planners who focus only on myriad threat pictures can also miss vital opportunities.

In technology, Adm. Blair warned that military planners cannot stay with the same “tried and true” communications, or the rest of the world will pass the United States by. Information technology is changing warfighting in a revolutionary way.

“The way we have done it over the past 40 years has about run its course,” the admiral declared.

Adm. Blair charged that budgetary concerns are affecting his command’s readiness. Pacific Command forces are not as ready as they should be, and a visitor to any base can easily see how inadequate the funding is for the command.

The admiral called for “acquisition by adaptation,” wherein prototypes and experimental technologies are introduced into the field early for hands-on development and adjustment, based on experience gleaned by warfighters. Some systems could be introduced as experiments even during crisis deployments, he suggested.

Above all, procurements should begin life operating in the joint and combined environments. The services must concentrate on technology development that incorporates jointness from the beginning, rather than as an add-on later.

The United States must neither prepare for the wrong threat nor underestimate the right threat, warned Adm. James M. Loy, USCG, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Speaking at the Keynote Luncheon, Adm. Loy also warned against doing acquisition in a vacuum, calling for agility to match foes’ potential versatility.

The admiral addressed several Coast-Guard-specific issues, including counterdrug operations. He predicted that today’s drug menace is a likely prototype of the future in threats.

Adm. Loy declared that the designation “post-Cold-War era” actually means that we do not know what really identifies this era, where peace is harder to characterize than war. However, not knowing what comes next is no excuse for not preparing, he stated.

The Coast Guard needs faster means of pursuit and better sensors to protect the nation’s waters, the admiral said. The service “will never become a second-best navy,” he added, but wants to remain the world’s best coast guard. He endorsed the concept of maritime domain awareness as a subset of “total domain awareness,” which would be an umbrella spread over all government information architectures.

“The future is now,” Adm. Loy declared in describing the need for new approaches to maintaining national security. The terrorist attack on the USS Cole is an example of the 21st century threat picture. The admiral summed up the need for a collaborative effort on integrated information systems in just three words: “Do it now.”

Leading the second day’s events was the Leadership Breakfast address by Richard Rosenburg of EDS, Herndon, Virginia, program executive, Navy/Marine Corps Intranet (NMCI) information strike force. Rosenburg detailed the plans and progress being made on this multibillion-dollar, multiyear effort that will connect at sea and ashore personnel in several stages.

Rosenburg noted that small business plays a big role in the intranet’s development. The program has targeted 40 percent of its participation content for small businesses, and two contracts already have been awarded. As many as 600 subcontractors may be signed up through a standard contract, he allowed.

The true challenges facing implementation are change and change management, not bits and bytes, he emphasized. The government/contractor relationship must feature an open dialogue with a partnership at the base level to ease the fears and concerns of personnel.

Terrorism is likely to be the predominant threat to U.S. forces in the future, noted Featured Luncheon speaker Adm. Harold Gehman, USN (Ret.), former commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Adm. Gehman focused on observations emerging from his role as co-lead of the USS Cole commission and its relevance to future national security issues.

The likelihood of someone challenging the United States to a sea, tactical air or tank battle in the next 10 years is extremely remote, the admiral predicted. However, the United States will be challenged, and these challenges may well take the form of incidents like that of the USS Cole.

“The threat is dangerous, Americans are dying, and it’s not going to go away,” the admiral warned. “Terror is the tool of the have-nots.”

No breakdown in intelligence dissemination occurred in the attack on the USS Cole, as no one had any inkling that the attack was coming. The standing rules of engagement for the USS Cole were adequate. The terrorists succeeded because they changed their pattern of behavior slightly to exploit a seam in U.S. security, Adm. Gehman stated.

The crew of the USS Cole met or exceeded all related Defense Department security training requirements. This points out shortcomings in the training regimen, the admiral noted. Counterintelligence also needs improving, as the admiral charged that it has actually moved away from a focus on terrorism toward protecting technology secrets.

U.S. forces are located all over the world in a variety of missions and presences, he continued. Many small humanitarian missions are, similar to the USS Cole, “out there” alone, “the lost patrols of the world,” the admiral stated. These remote units require “tailored overwatch,” and major institutional changes are necessary to increase security for U.S. forces abroad, he declared.

A foreign-born U.S. corporate official speaking at a conference breakfast decried the decline of the U.S. civil service. Richard T. Shearer, senior vice president of SAIC, spoke at a breakfast sponsored by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Advisory Committee. Shearer charged that the Defense Department civilian infrastructure is in a state of crisis from too many cutbacks, rigid personnel policies, limits on post-government employment and public criticism “bordering on slander.”

A native of Scotland, Shearer came to the United States energized by President John F. Kennedy’s call to action on behalf of freedom worldwide. Years of work in the civil service and private industry have given him the perspective to warn of the dangers facing U.S. national security if the civilian Defense Department work force is allowed to suffer further neglect.

President George W. Bush inherited a military force substantially reduced from that in place when “the Soviet Union entered Chapter 11.” One of the greatest problems may be the brain drain from the civil sector.

“We have sacrificed this nation’s intellectual wealth on an altar only an accountant would love,” he told his audience. In addition to the loss of qualitative excellence, the cuts in personnel numbers and in physical sites have led to increased stress on personnel.

Some of the biggest disincentives to public service are the laws restricting post-government employment, Shearer charged. Because of this and other drawbacks, many second-tier Defense Department jobs will be hard to fill.

Shearer called for the United States to “reform and rejuvenate its civilian defense work force.” He added that morale is so low that the philosophy among many stifled in the civil service is “get out if you can, stay if you must, but leave as soon as you are able.”

The commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps sees the advent of a new presidential administration as an opportunity for a national debate on security and defense issues. Gen. James L. Jones, Jr., USMC, Marine Corps commandant, offered that the United States has moved away from an intellectual discussion on why—and for what—it maintains readiness. The nation must deal with some myths and address some key issues to establish a military that is sufficient to meet national security challenges in this new century.

Defense is a subset of national security, which itself has changed over the past 20 years. A revolution and transformation are underway, which is defining this new era of expectations. However, the country has moved away from an intellectual discussion on why it maintains readiness. “We are ready for what?” he asked.

The commandant warned against funding a military “for use in case of fire only.” Right now, U.S. military forces are under-resourced, and the services all must receive more funding to overcome these shortcomings. The services have been reduced in size by about 35 to 40 percent, although the Marines have suffered slightly less than the other three services. Many U.S. Air Force aircraft are older than U.S. Navy ships. Current funding lines can support only a 250-ship Navy. And, the new U.S. Army must have adequate resources to adapt during its transformation.

Gen. Jones described the joint strike fighter as “absolutely essential” to the military. Currently undergoing flight tests, the fighter could be “the F-16 of the 21st century” in terms of versatility and service, the general suggested.

Overall, the United States must continue its defense presence or face the consequences in national security terms. “A virtual [military] presence is an actual absence, which is a vacuum that someone else eventually will fill,” Gen. Jones stated.

The Pacific Fleet’s concerns mirror those of the U.S. military at large, according to issues raised by its commander. Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, USN, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the Maritime Luncheon audience the Navy lacks the capacity to meet readiness commitments.

“We have a really short bench,” he stated, using a baseball analogy. “The range of concerns and places we’ll be asked to go to cannot be supported by current numbers.”

Several shortcomings plague the Pacific Fleet. Ordnance quantities are too low for full deployments, which forces ships to trade munitions coming and going. Base support is lacking, resulting in leaky hangars and piers that don’t support modern vessels. Training also suffers when warfighters do not have enough munitions to hone their skills against increasingly capable adversaries, which the admiral noted directly affects the Navy’s ability to defend the United States.

For protecting the United States, forward deployment gives the country the choice of when and where to engage in conflict. The admiral called for centering national security on a maritime component. A sea-based ballistic missile defense could enable a more robust national missile defense.

Adm. Fargo further declared that the United States must either “change the strategy or pay the bill” to maintain national security. He added that the course of action probably will entail some of both.

Among the first day’s panel discussions was a detailed examination of how to implement network-centric operations across the Navy. Moderator Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, USN, president of the Naval War College, noted that technology, organization and doctrine all are issues to be addressed in this endeavor.

Vice Adm. Richard W. Mayo, USN, director, Space, Information Warfare, Command and Control (N-6), described how IT-21 afloat and the NMCI on land will provide the same high-level connectivity among all personnel ashore and at sea.

Adm. Mayo added that “we live and die through the use of space,” a point elaborated on by Rear Adm. John A. Gauss, USN, commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR). Adm. Gauss cited the need for multiple radio frequency (RF) paths among ships and to the shore to increase the power of the network exponentially. He also called for multiband antennas that can point at multiple satellites while switching bands seamlessly, which will require advanced switched circuit management technology.

Middleware, which perpetuates legacy systems, is not the answer to data access, Adm. Gauss offered, specifying that “we need a breakthrough.” The admiral added that the pendulum may have swung too far toward commercial off-the-shelf technology acquisition. Commercial space is still mired in “1978 technology,” he charged, as most advances have occurred in wireless and fiber optic, as opposed to satellite, communications.

Capt. Ernest Valdes, USN, commander of the SPAWAR Systems Center in San Diego, called for rewarding program managers for fielding an end-to-end capability that is interoperable with joint and coalition operations. He urged breaking down stovepipe requirements and integrating requirements across ships and bases.

Cmdr. Scott White, USN, deputy for innovations and experiments, commander, Third Fleet, invited industry experts to “bring your technologies and ideas to the USS Coronado” for evaluation. The fleet must be selective, he allowed, but potential solutions that are “relevant, robust and reliable” will be considered for partnering evaluations. Perfection is not necessary, as an 80-percent solution might be sufficient to suit Navy needs.

A panel on how to win the drug war looked at the question from a different angle, with speakers often questioning whether a war really exists. Samuel H. Banks, former deputy commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service, asked if, in a war, the United States would provide attorneys and read the enemy its rights. He allowed that this so-called war does not seem so important to the nation anymore because crime rates are dropping, and drugs are tied to crime. The dynamics of liberalization are disturbing, Banks continued, pointing to the combination of state initiatives to reduce sentences for nonviolent offenses, requests for added flexibility by judges, and pressure from prisons to reduce incarceration times.

Pacific Area Coast Guard Commander Vice Adm. E.R. Riutta, USCG, noted that the greater amount of drugs entering the country has shifted from coming via the Caribbean to by way of the Pacific. Because of time and distance in the Pacific area, as well as old and slow systems, detection resources are stretched to the limit, yet drug smugglers have deep pockets. As U.S. platforms age and smugglers continue to invest, the nation may lose ground, the admiral stressed. Efforts should include recapitalizing, gaining more access to foreign bases, and making more bilateral agreements. The United States needs a national commitment, he added.

A policy expert on the panel, Jeffrey M. Vorce, viewed the situation as more of a public health issue than a war. From his perspective as a strategic planner in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, he emphasized that the country must help, not defeat, the addicted.

Naval expertise from four nations was present at a panel focusing on how high-technology partners can maintain interoperability. Moderator Rear Adm. William W. Cobb, Jr., USN, program executive officer for theater surface combatants, noted that foreign military sales systems must work in concert, such as the Aegis radar system being procured by several U.S. allies. One of these allies is Japan, and the former commander in chief of its maritime forces self-defense fleet discussed how Aegis destroyers are enhancing the nation’s naval capabilities. Vice Adm. Makoto Yamazaki, JMSDF (Ret.), added that interoperability with other systems enhances Aegis’ capabilities, and it opens the door to further capabilities.

Rear Adm. Manuel Jesus Diaz Mateos, SPN, chief of the F-100 frigate program in Spain, noted that the interoperability of the frigate’s combat electronics system with that of U.S. Navy ships will enhance cooperative activities between the two nations. He stated that the Spanish Navy is in the midst of profound changes, and international cooperation is viewed as an important tool for the future.

Capt. Jose Manuel Sanjuro Jul, SPN, echoed his commander’s comments about cooperative operations. The lead engineer for the F-100 program, he stated that planning, plotting and fighting are the ingredients for coalition operations, and connectivity is the first attribute.

Rear Adm. Jan Jaeger, RNN, commander of the Navy Materiel Command in the Royal Norwegian Navy, pointed out that interoperability involves more than just systems. Countries need to determine the degree of interoperability they need, and with whom. The admiral emphasized that U.S. forces remain the backbone of support to Norway for the foreseeable future. Europe is drifting toward self-sufficiency in defense, and the shift in continental priorities from the Atlantic alliance’s northern flank to the southeast is troubling for Norway.

Capt. Larry Newton, USN, director, allied military sales (PMS 400), noted that the Aegis system is a unifying factor among all four nations represented on the panel. Each country has a different type of Aegis system tailored to its own needs. The captain cited Spain’s use of its own displays and combat decision system, and he related that some Spanish components now are installed on U.S. Navy ships.

Panelists warned, however, that the U.S. foreign military sales system can be a hindrance and should be revamped and streamlined. Capt. Newton noted that releasing baselines takes too long, and Adm. Cobb related that it took five years to obtain permission to train Japanese technicians on U.S. simulators because they included classified Tomahawk data. Declaring that the current foreign military sales system “takes too much time and has too many hurdles,” Adm. Cobb suggested a new approach called “allied military sales.”

After some introductory remarks, speakers on a panel moderated by Adm. Leighton W. Smith, USN (Ret.), answered questions from members of the audience in a standing-room-only session focusing on type commanders. Adm. Smith began his discussion by suggesting that forces bring value, and the value is expected, but the country is not willing to pay the price for value.

The nation knows it needs to catch up, allowed Rear Adm. Charles H. Griffiths, USN, commander, Submarine Group Nine. The United States must overcome the Achilles’ heel of legacy systems from the Cold War, he related. Vice Adm. Edward Moore, Jr., USN, commander, U.S. Naval Surface Force Pacific, said that the Goldwaters-Nichols Act worked to some extent, but what is missing at the Unified Command is visibility in budgets.

Vice Adm. John B. Nathman, USN, commander, U.S. Naval Air Force Pacific, reviewed several elements using a thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system. His analysis allowed that carriers require a high level of maintenance to update and that the refresh rate for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence installation is a challenge, but he rated them one-and-one-half thumbs up. He gave a thumbs-down rating to the air stations and their aircraft, with maintenance of real property cited as a problem. The aircraft force is more than 18 years old, and the service has not made an investment in spares and recapitalizing the force, he added.

Brig. Gen. Timothy Larsen, USMC, assistant division commander, 1st. Marine Division, related that the services have had a Marine Corps expeditionary mindset during the past couple of years, and if the Army and Air Force succeed in this area, then the Marines will need a better capability too.

Another panel, which focused on winning the war against terrorism, continued the debate following Adm. Gehman’s Featured Luncheon address. Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor, USMC (Ret.), former deputy chief of staff for plans, policies and operations, warned in the panel that “terrorism isn’t the wave of the future—it crashed over us long ago.”

Panelist Col. Tim Geraghty, USMC (Ret.), the commanding officer of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983, called for the United States to be more aggressive and direct against terrorist supporters. He charged that Syria’s knowledge and oversight of terrorist training camps effectively involved it in the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed scores of Marines. The United States should have told Syria before the bombing that it would be held accountable for any terrorist acts against U.S. forces, Col. Geraghty stated, and this philosophy should be applied against all terrorist supporters. When U.S. intelligence learns that an attack may be in the works, the United States should warn these terror cohorts that it knows something is up and that they will “feel the wrath of the United States” if a terror attack is successful, the colonel declared.

The military has no strategy for combating terrorism because it has not been given one, declared Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Rancich, USN, former protection officer, commander in chief, Atlantic Fleet. He decried four well-known notions as myths: that terrorism is an asymmetrical threat (it really is linear); “If they want to get you, they will,” (which empowers terrorists more than they deserve); that the United States is at war with terrorists (without U.S. unity of purpose, that idea weakens the perception of U.S. ability); and that the Navy must protect its sailors (sailors are the protection). He called for a strategy of affecting terrorists’ goals that would involve hitting terrorists economically, psychologically, physically, close in and from afar.

Col. W. Hays Parks, USMCR (Ret.), cited the need to “clean up and standardize” the rules of engagement. Soldiers and sailors must be given the tools necessary to determine whether an individual constitutes a threat, for example. Commander’s intent cannot inhibit execution of measures. Col. Parks warned against turning over rules of engagement policy making to judge advocates. “They don’t know the business,” he stated.

Plan ahead and ensure security when starting to build a network, suggested Vice Adm. Herb Browne, USN (Ret.), at an information assurance panel. It costs two to five percent of the price of the network to protect it when starting with the software build. After the software is finished, the cost to protect the network jumps to 10 to 20 percent, the former deputy commander in chief of the U.S. Space Command related.

Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, USAF, director, National Security Agency, talked about parallel lives with industry customers. He stated that the requirement exists to rely more on products or services that industry can provide.

Gilman Louie, president and chief executive officer of In-Q-Tel, Incorporated, agreed with the general, suggesting that the government leverage commercial development. It does not have the budget to solve the information assurance problem, so it should use other people’s money and products, he suggested.

Rear Adm. Robert Nutwell, deputy assistant secretary of defense, command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C3ISR) and space, said that the United States presumes it has the information edge. This becomes the center of gravity that “if we don’t get it right, it can be our Achilles’ heel.” Network-centric operations can contribute, he allowed, but leaders must solve information assurance first. He called for advanced intrusion detection, advanced firewalls, products with information assurance designed in and certified hardware and software.