West 2013 Coverage

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Marine Corps may tap the expertise of Asia-Pacific treaty allies and partners if the Corps faces draconian cuts in its budget. Items such as operations and maintenance conceivably could be assumed by other countries if funding is lost from sequestration and/or the continuing resolution.

Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps, discussed this possibility in a media interview at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. The general allowed that the Corps has been examining other countries’ capabilities as it prepares to increase its Asia-Pacific presence as part of the U.S. strategic rebalancing to that region.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

As the People’s Republic of China grows in economic and military stature, it is generating ill will among neighbors who increasingly fear an expansionist budding superpower. Ironically, the greatest effect this is having on the Asia-Pacific region is that it is driving many nations into the arms of the United States.

This was just one of many observations offered by a panel on China at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. A mix of academics and military officers offered different perspectives on where China might be headed in the coming years.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is serving as the primary vehicle to extend China’s influence deeper away from its borders. New and improved capabilities have transformed the navy into a force that can take on increasingly complex and distant military roles.

“The PLAN is at the tip of the Chinese spear,” said Dr. David M. Finkelstein, vice president and director, China studies, Center for Naval Analyses. Finkelstein was moderating a panel on the Chinese navy at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Other panelists offered their own assessments of the PLAN and its role in Chinese foreign affairs.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. defense industrial base may lose unique elements that could not be reconstituted later. This could deprive the U.S. military of vital capabilities permanently if new companies do not emerge to take their places.

That gloomy assessment was offered in a special Wednesday luncheon town hall that featured service chiefs from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, USN, chief of naval operations, described his worries about the sequestration and continuing resolution effects on the industrial base.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Whatever budget cuts are imposed on the U.S. military services, the strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region must be carried out. Global geopolitical events virtually require that the United States increase its presence to protect national interests in the increasingly dynamic region.

These points were emphasized in a special Wednesday luncheon town hall that featured service chiefs from the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marines and the U.S. Coast Guard at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Gen. James F. Amos, USMC, commandant of the Marine Corps, left no ambiguities in his assessment of the strategic shift.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The task of protecting U.S. military cyber assets is increasing in complexity as new capabilities come to dominate communications and networking. Planners must implement security measures that do not hinder the new technologies introduced to the force.

That challenge was in a cyber fireside chat that opened the final day of AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Robert J. Carey, deputy chief information officer for the U.S. Defense Department, noted that one key tasking is to protect the mobile devices that now are proliferating in the force.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy could offer a Google-type information service to the world by organizing its diverse data in a form that would serve individuals, businesses and people. This would place the Navy in the realm of geospatial information system (GIS) providers whose services are sweeping the globe.

This brand innovation challenge was offered by John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation. Speaking to the Wednesday keynote luncheon audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, Smart suggested that the Navy could become an agent of change by organizing data collected by its numerous sensor systems and making it available to the public at large.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The looming fiscal crisis that threatens to eviscerate defense budgets may be starting to have an effect on the personnel who are on active duty. Some service members are beginning to question what impact the budget cuts will have on their units, and others are concerned that force reductions might affect their own military goals.

A Wednesday panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 on "what will it take to keep the best of the best" related how the uncertainty is beginning to grip the force. Navy leaders cannot address these concerns in large part because they do not know exactly which catastrophic budget scenario will unfold.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The first shot in a war may be a cyber attack on the U.S. financial sector. By crippling the economic abilities of the nation, an enemy could wreak more long-term havoc on the United States than by hitting an element of the critical infrastructure alone.

That was the assessment of Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer (CIO) of the Department of the Navy. Halvorsen offered this view in panel on balancing cost with risk in the cyber realm, which was held Wednesday at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Most defense experts foresee that funding for cyber activities either will increase or, at worst, remain flat when the upcoming fiscal crisis hits. However, that growth in funding will draw money from other defense areas, according to a group of cyber leaders.

A panel on cybersecurity offered several perspectives on the issue of cost versus risk at the West conference on Wednesday. Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer (CIO) for the Department of the Navy, declared plainly that there is no new money; there is less. If the services spend more on cyber, then it will have to come from somewhere else.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Cyber Command force is likely to increase to 14,000 people over the next few years as the command trains experts and disperses them where they will be needed, according to its deputy commander. Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis, USMC, told the audience at a morning fireside chat beginning the last day of AFCEA/USNI West 2013 that the command already has an assigned force of 6,000 as it ramps up to carry out its dynamic mission.

Most of these Cyber Command personnel are being trained to serve in the field—in this case, various military settings. The command is building teams for combatant commanders who will have operational control over these cyber experts.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The military needs innovation more than ever, but it is less equipped to take advantage of it by nature of its structure. Overcoming that institutional inertia will be absolutely essential for the military to meet its mission needs against the backdrop of severe budget cuts.

The importance of defense innovation was the focus of a Wednesday morning panel discussion at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, USN, commander of the Navy Warfare Development Command, set the tone for his fellow panelists when he pointed out that large organizations find it difficult to embrace innovation, as they prefer stability to change.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

A handful of military technologies could have revolutionary effects on the force beyond those already anticipated, according to a panel of experts. Speaking to the audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego, these military and civilian officials emphasized the need for innovation for the force in times of fiscal shortfalls.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., USMC, Marine Corps representative to the Quadrennial Defense Review, offered that the MV-22 Osprey “will have profound effects in the Pacific.” This aircraft is changing the way that Marines operate from the sea, and more changes will come.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

By 2040, 2 billion children will be learning to speak English through the use of wrist-borne personal computers that will display translations and accompanying imagery to their users. In effect, these 2 billion will become employable in a range of professions in the Western world.

That far-reaching forecast was delivered by John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, in the keynote luncheon at AFCEA/USNI West 2013. Smart cited this case as an example of how change is happening constantly, and people must prepare for it rather than try to outlast it.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Change is coming, and it will define its arrival despite best efforts to manage it. As much as 95 percent of change is evolutionary in that it comes from the bottom up. Innovation is happening constantly, and everyone must pay attention to it.

John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, offered those strategic outlooks in the Wednesday keynote luncheon at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. A series of technologies are driving change, and people and organizations must pay attention to those long-term changes.

January 30, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Pacific Fleet will not be able to meet its mission priorities easily if any of a variety of pending budget cuts comes to pass, according to its commander. Adm. Cecil D. Haney, USN, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, told the Wednesday morning keynote audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego that both the continuing resolution and sequestration offer distinct challenges to the fleet’s ability to meet its obligations amid the strategic rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The U.S. Navy increasingly will need to rely on nonmilitary means to solve problems in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. strategic rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific region continues, but its implementation will need to adjust to account for budgetary constraints.

Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work explained some of these nuances to a packed luncheon audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. Work noted that many large- and medium-size Asia-Pacific nations are increasing the size of their navies and other maritime forces. By comparison, most European nations are shrinking their fleets.

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

Facing fiscal Armageddon, the U.S. Navy is building its budget strategy around options that could be undone if conditions change in the near future. Not all the cuts under consideration could be restored easily, but the sea service is working to ensure that key capabilities are not lost forever in crisis budget cutting.

A panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 focused on the topic of making fiscal cliff numbers add up. Vice Adm. David H. Buss, USN, commander, naval air forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, described the reversibility doctrine as a way to reconstitute force capabilities if conditions permit in the future. These conditions could be driven by fewer fiscal constraints or changes in doctrine or mission requirements.

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

The catastrophic budget cuts facing the U.S. Defense Department will be worse than need be because leading administration officials did not seem to believe they actually would come to pass, according to some experts on a panel at AFCEA/USNI West 2013 in San Diego. As a result, more thoughtful solutions to the budget crisis must give way to rapid and severe reductions over a short period of time.

Kori Schake, a research fellow with the Hoover Institution, pulled no punches in her depiction of the run-up to the sequestration. Commenting on the panel theme, which referred to a ticking budget clock, she said, “If the clock is ticking, then the bomb is about to go off.”

January 29, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman

U.S. Navy shipbuilding will sail on in spite of potentially severe budget cuts, according to the undersecretary of the Navy. Robert O. Work, giving the luncheon keynote address to a packed audience at AFCEA/USNI West 2013, declared that the Navy would achieve its goal of a 300-ship Navy “by hook or by crook” by 2019.

Calling the shipbuilding program “the best it has ever been since the heyday of the 600-ship Navy” during the Reagan Administration, Work noted that the 42 additional ships currently planned all are under contract, and most of these contracts are fixed-price.

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