The United States cannot expect to fight on its own terms if it finds itself in an armed conflict with China. The Asian power is likely to resort to unconventional or even asymmetric operations to deny U.S. forces their strong points, offered China experts in a panel at West 2012 in San Diego. Dr. Alan J. Vick, senior political scientist at Rand Corporation, noted that the recent U.S. conflicts all started at a time and in a manner of U.S. choosing, and this followed a rapid deployment of U.S. forces to forward basing locations. China would not permit that, he said.
The United States should avoid thinking of China as a potential adversary and work to engage the emerging Asian power, suggested experts in a West 2012 panel. The experts decried the notion of applying Cold War tactics to U.S. China policy and instead supported making China part of an overall Asia policy. China is a rising force in the military arena, and the United States should pay attention to it as it shapes its Asia-Pacific presence. Vice Adm. John M. Bird, USN, director of Navy Staff and former commander of the Seventh Fleet, said that the United States should interact with China on a military-to-military basis. It will be to the U.S. benefit, particularly given the "astounding" growth of China's naval capabilities.
China and the United States are hindered in their efforts to build trust by cultural differences that exacerbate misunderstandings between the two nations. A panel of China experts at West 2012 in San Diego outlined several unintentionally contentious areas between the Pacific powers, but it did not have solutions for all of the challenges. Vice Adm. John M. Bird, USN, director of Navy Staff and former commander of the Seventh Fleet, said that China and many in Asia view the world differently than the United States does, especially when it comes to values. "We fall victim at our peril when we try to apply our mindset to them," he warned. "For example, our idea of deterrence is their idea of containment.
Support for naval operations is not unusual among U.S. Navy officials, but Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work made a cogent argument that the 21st century will be the maritime century. Speaking at the Thursday morning plenary address at West 2012 in San Diego, Work explained that the need for global reach mandates a strong and versatile maritime force, and the U.S. Navy is being structured to meet future challenges. Work stated that the center of gravity of the new defense strategy is a true maritime strategy. New basing agreements extend the Navy's reach and provide support for a plethora of potential missions.
New military officers and young people entering the service may face a variety of internal challenges that hold back their careers and deny the service the benefit of their ideas. These challenges range from outmoded thinking among some individuals to a structure that dampens the type of innovation that is desperately needed as the military morphs to fulfill new missions. A West 2012 panel on the issues confronting junior warfighters featured suggested solutions amid firsthand stories from four young officers. Lt. Benjamin Kohlmann, USN, an F/A-18 instructor pilot with VMFAT-101, related that many young people are doing great things in the field, but then when they return to garrison, they are unable to continue to do so.
Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petry, USA, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan, said that he looks at his fellow soldiers as family-"and I would do anything to protect my family," he told the audience in an emotionally packed luncheon at West 2012 today, where he was interviewed by former Good Morning America host David Hartman. Sgt. 1st Class Petry received the Medal of Honor after saving other members of his Army Ranger unit by picking up and hurling a grenade that landed near them. The grenade exploded, and the blast cost him his right hand and part of his forearm.
The U.S. military needs to be restructured both to meet new threats and to revitalize the force, according to the undersecretary of the Navy. Robert O. Work emphatically defended the new defense strategy in a fiery Thursday morning plenary address at West 2012 in San Diego. Work pointed out that since the end of the Cold War, the United States will have been at war as much as it has been at peace. This is unprecedented in the country's geopolitical eras, and that warfighting has stressed the military beyond an acceptable point. "We have become the Department of War," Work declared.
The U.S. Navy submarine force will lose significant numbers as well as capabilities over the next 18 years, according to a group commander. Rear Adm. Richard Breckenridge, USN, the commander of Submarine Group Two, outlined the reductions for a panel audience at West 2012 in San Diego. These reductions are part of an overall effort to reduce the size of the force. The number of attack submarines will decline from 55 to 40 by 2030. All eight SSG cruise missile submarine crews will be removed from the force. Adm. Breckenridge pointed out that the submarine force has declined from 21,000 to 16,000 sailors over the past 12 years. Yet, the service maintained the same number of crews.
The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps know the technology capabilities that they need from industry, but they want the solutions to suit warfighter needs-not requirements. A West 2012 panel focusing on the needs of the warfighter told industry attendees that some old approaches no longer will work. "It's all about reliability," said Brig. Gen. Gregg A. Sturdevant, USMC, assistant wing commander, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "Keep it simple and reliable for maintainability." Rear Adm. Jerry K. Burroughs, USN, program executive officer for C4I, outlined a technology wish list that includes changes in traditional approaches.
The commander of the U.S. Navy's Carrier Strike Group Eleven sees considerable dynamism in the Korean peninsula for the coming calendar year. Rear Adm. Peter A. Gumataotao, USN, told a West 2012 panel audience that the changing environment in both the North and the South could portend substantial changes in the geopolitical picture there. The Navy admiral said that Korea is ground centric, with both sides having powerful armies. The South is willing to do "anything and everything" to reunify, either through a civil war in the North or if newly crowned leader Kim Jong Un opens up the North to the South. And, beginning in 2015, the supported command will shift from U.S. forces to the Republic of Korea (ROK). Adm.
Risk must be weighed against cost for future military security procurements, according to panelists at West 2012 in San Diego. Not only must planners consider that basic tradeoff for incorporating security, they also must do battle with an outmoded acquisition system and new capabilities that are changing the nature of the cyber threat. While calling for balance in security cost versus risk, Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen also admitted that no one-whether in government or in industry-is good at truly quantifying the cost effectiveness of security measures. Neither does the government know exactly what it spends on accreditation certification, but that amount is growing every day, he noted. Rear Adm.
The U.S. military is at a crossroads in which it must expand its capabilities while dealing with fiscal limitations that leave little if any room for growth. So, it must do more with its existing assets and capabilities, according to a high-ranking member of the Joint Staff. Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, USMC, director, J-7, the Joint Staff, told the Wednesday luncheon audience at West 2012 in San Diego that new era will not be about doing more with less, but instead doing more with what the military already has. "We've entered a new budget environment where you can have anything you want, but you can't have everything. You have to make the choices," he stated.
Straying from traditional values is why the United States is facing challenges both financially and internationally, said a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), told a luncheon audience at West 2012 in San Diego that the country needs to stick to its values as much as possible. When it strays from them, it may realize short-term gains but it suffers losses in the long run, he stated. He cited the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal as an example of that departure from traditional national values. The admiral also called for "fixing" the State Department. "Diplomacy should lead the military, not the other way around," he declared.
Enemies attacking in cyberspace and budget cutters slashing defense programs are the premier threats to the U.S. military, according to a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Adm. Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), warned a luncheon audience at West 2012 in San Diego that cyber is an existential threat to the nation. "We don't have many existential threats any more; cyber is one," he said, adding, "I understand that the enemy is as good as we are." The other significant threat to the U.S. military is possible budget sequestration cuts. Adm. Mullen described the current budget crunch as "a long time coming." He and other planners saw the potential problem looming nine years ago.
U.S. Navy special operations forces may serve a greater role in future military operations, but this role may be hindered by overall force reductions, said the head of Navy special warfare. Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, USN, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command (NSW), allowed that special operations forces (SOFs) are likely to constitute a higher percentage of deployed U.S. forces as other units are called home. However, the drawdown in other U.S. deployed forces will affect SOFs in vital areas such as communications and medical support. Speaking in the Wednesday plenary address at West 2012 in San Diego, Adm. Pybus said his command must strengthen its traditional ties with the Navy and Marine Corps.
Technology has a prominent role in the wish list for U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command (NSW). These advances will be necessary for the NSW to carry out its mission in the new defense strategy, as described by the NSW's commander, Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, USN. Speaking in the Wednesday plenary address at West 2012 in San Diego, Adm. Pybus said the command wants better intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors, payloads and platforms. The command also needs to be able to communicate in a contested environment anywhere in the world, including through adversary electronic warfare. The admiral noted that while the command relied on other U.S. military assets for those capabilities in the past, "the chessboard is changing" as U.S.
"Boots on the ground" work by U.S. special operations forces is producing real results that are weakening the Taliban's reach in Afghanistan, according to the head of the U.S. Navy Special Warfare Command (NSW). Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus, USN, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command, told the Wednesday plenary address audience at West 2012 in San Diego that the NSW is working in small hamlets to gain the trust of the people-and, it is working. "The Taliban are not happy about this strategy to invest at the village and local level," Adm. Pybus declared. Most of the NSW's 2,100 deployed personnel are in Afghanistan, he said.
A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not mince words when discussing how the United States cares for its veterans after they leave the military. Adm. Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), challenged Tuesday luncheon attendees at West 2012 in San Diego to help military personnel bridge to civilian life after they leave the service. Adm. Mullen cited several crisis areas that veterans face as they attempt to transition to civilian life. The rates of homeless veterans are higher than their equivalents among non-veterans, and many of these homeless veterans are women with children. Unemployment among veterans also is higher than for the general public. And, the military has record suicide rates.
The changing world and an increasing number of potential threats are vexing planners who are striving to restructure the military while cutting costs. Allies and potential foes alike are undertaking force shifts that may portend or even cause new threats that must be addressed by the U.S. military, according to a panel of experts at West 2012 in San Diego. Brig. Gen. Daniel J. O'Donohue, USMC, director, Capabilities Development Directorate, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, declared that the future belongs to maritime forces. He sees a basic integration among sea strike, sea shield and sea basing, which is necessary to face looming threats.
Science and technology are receiving broad support amid threatened defense budget cuts, but their future application may be hindered by outside forces. The complexity of technology must be weighed in planning both for capabilities and for budgetary priorities, according to a panel of experts at West 2012 in San Diego. Vice Adm. John Terrence Blake, USN, deputy chief of naval operations, integration of capabilities and resources (N-8), stated that science and technology are relatively protected against budget cuts, so reductions will have to come in areas such as operation and maintenance, personnel, infrastructure and procurement.