The U.S. Navy is focusing on training its personnel to overcome adversaries that are closing the technology gap with the fleet, according to the admiral in charge of fleet readiness. While the sea service continues to seek game-changing technologies to restore supremacy, it also is relying on new tactics and operational methods to overcome adversaries at sea, underwater, in the air and in cyberspace.
Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) from the three sea services agree that suicide and sexual assault are two serious issues affecting personnel that must be solved if the military is to maintain a high-quality force. Speaking at a Tuesday panel at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, the NCOs discussed these issues under the title of “Mission First, People Always: How Are We Making it Work?”
The United States has what military personnel leaders describe as the best educated, best trained and best equipped force in history. Yet, this force is showing strains as the military endures its most stressful environment in recent memory.
A Tuesday panel at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, explored these issues under the title of “Mission First, People Always: How Are We Making it Work?” Four senior noncommissioned officers were blunt about the personnel challenges facing the services.
The U.S. military must upgrade or replace aging equipment just as it faces new challenges that require revised force priorities, according to the commanding general of the U.S. Northern Command. Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, who also is the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, described these challenges in his address to the Tuesday luncheon audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12.
The postwar defense funding reductions the U.S. military now is facing are taking place under entirely different conditions than their predecessors, noted the commander of the U.S. Northern Command. Adm. William E. Gortney, USN, who also is the commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, warned of applying parallels to previous cutbacks in his address to the Tuesday luncheon audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12.
Individual U.S. Marines are carrying too heavy a load into combat thanks to new information technologies, said the commanding general of the 1 Marine Expeditionary Force. Lt. Gen. David H. Berger, USMC, told the audience at a panel discussion during West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, the weight of equipment being carried into combat by individual warfighters needed to be reduced.
“We’re carrying too much weight. Some is for protection, but a lot is command and control,” he stated. “We need help shedding that weight; we need to do it lighter.”
New defensive technologies have risen in importance as the U.S. Navy confronts a host of new and diverse threats to its surface ships. These technologies range from upgrades to existing capabilities to exotic systems that would change the nature of naval warfare.
Special operations forces (SOFs) have become so essential to military mission success that they should be incorporated into conventional force plans, according to a Marine Corps general. Lt. Gen. David H. Berger, USMC, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force, explained how this would work to the audience at a Tuesday morning panel at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12.
Gen. Berger explained that the traditional paradigm would have SOFs conduct operations and then hand off the mission to conventional forces. But now, the better approach would be for SOFs and conventional forces to work concurrently.
Lasers, railguns and unmanned underwater vehicles are just a few of the new capabilities the U.S. Defense Department is counting on to overcome advances pursued by potential adversaries. Both short- and long-term capabilities likely will feature a blend of commercial and military technologies, according to a senior Defense Department official.
Robert O. Work, deputy secretary of defense, described some of these technologies to the Tuesday morning audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12. Work stated that the military will see many potentially game-changing technologies over the long term.
Needing a new long-range anti-ship missile, the U.S. Navy has configured a Tomahawk cruise missile to perform that role. The service saved a large amount of scarce funding in adapting an existing system instead of developing a new one, stated a high-ranking defense official.
The U.S. military will need several years to reset and rebuild its military following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the deputy secretary of defense. Robert O. Work told the Tuesday morning audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12, that the original plans for a two- to three-year reset will not work because of continuing global conflicts and commitments.
“This past year has shown us we cannot be ready for just one thing,” Work said, reflecting on the many changes and crises that have emerged. “We’re doing a running reset—building the airplane while it’s flying.”
The United States is losing the defense technology advantage it has held since World War II, and that development could have ramifications far beyond the battlespace. Both deterrence and commitments from allies could be affected if the United States does not reverse that trend, according to a high-ranking Defense Department official.
Returning the defense budget to sequestration levels “would be a disaster,” according to a senior defense official. Robert O. Work, deputy secretary of defense, outlined the consequences of this budget approach for the Tuesday morning audience at West 2015, being held in San Diego, February 10-12.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014
The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily
Quote of the Day:
“It is as if I’m building an F-22 squadron with a bunch of new lieutenants who’ve just shown up and have been checked out in the F-22. You don’t have combat capability just because you have people who have passed their initial training.”—Lt. Gen. James McLaughlin, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Cyber Command
The economic and military superiority brought about by technological innovation may be disappearing sooner than most people expect. Other countries are educating their students in the very fields the United States used to dominate, and potential rivals are focusing on eliminating the U.S. military’s technological edge.
Adm. Harry B. Harris, USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, warned of this process on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held December 9-11 in Honolulu. He described how limitations and distractions have inhibited progress that might have kept the U.S. technology lead secure.
The United States will find it harder to maintain its technological edge in times of fiscal uncertainty and severe budget constraints, said a leading military figure. So, it will need to be innovative about continuing to generate innovation for the foreseeable future.
Speaking on the final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014, being held December 9-11 in Honolulu, Adm. Harry B. Harris, USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, emphasized the importance of innovation in maintaining U.S. military superiority.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2014
The SIGNAL Magazine Online Show Daily
Quote of the Day:
“I believe America should always bring a gun to a knife fight ... not a butter knife.”—Adm. Harry B. Harris, USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.
The U.S. lead in military technology is too great, not enough or disappearing, depending on which expert is speaking. And, all three statements might be accurate in their own ways.
The growing technology gap between U.S. forces and their allies and partners could be addressed in part by having allies help establish standards for new systems. The gap, caused by advancing technology progress in U.S. forces, threatens coalition operations by leaving less advanced nations unable to interoperate with their U.S. counterparts.
Australia is a key toward successful implementation of the U.S. pivot to the Pacific, according to the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific. Yet despite a longtime military relationship between the two allies, U.S. forces must be careful as they build their presence there, he added.
U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific is looking for smaller, lighter communications and networking gear as it returns to its roots as an amphibious force, their commander offers. Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, USMC, said that new capabilities for assured interoperable networking must be balanced against size and weight limitations for the rapidly deployable force.