Global Changes Gang Up on Plans, Forecasts

April 2010
By Robert K. Ackerman and Maryann Lawlor
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Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, describes the changes driving the new Quadrennial Defense Review at West 2010.

Every type of sociological, economic and military transformation is creating exponentially greater uncertainties.

The information revolution that is sweeping the globe is forcing radical changes in the national security arena. Previous notions of strategic and tactical military planning are being swept away as both time and power have new definitions. And, that information technology realm itself is a major player in the concept of national security.

That was just one message delivered in West 2010, presented by AFCEA International and the U.S. Naval Institute February 2-4, 2010, in San Diego. Titled “Smart Power: Does the QDR Get It Right?” the program focused on the new Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) and what it portends in this era of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare. Speakers and panelists also looked at the structure of the future Navy amid resource challenges.

The QDR represents overdue changes in the defense structure, but this year’s version is unusual because it comes in with a new presidential administration but a holdover secretary of defense. Thus, it maintains an unusual degree of continuity, but it does signal a new direction for the military.

Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led off West 2010 by citing that perspective and predicting greater changes next year. Gen. Cartwright explained why the QDR abandons the concept of fighting two conventional wars along with lesser conflicts simultaneously. Simply put, the lesser conflicts are proving much more difficult than imagined, while the major wars seem less likely. It is more important to focus on the wars the United States actually finds itself in rather than in the wars it hopes it will define conflict.

“Whatever it is that we think we’ll do next, whomever it is we think we’ll fight next, we’ll be wrong,” he stated.

Developments in missile defense have led to a capability that is international in nature and agnostic in application, Gen. Cartwright noted. He allowed that missile defense is much more capable than it was 10 years ago. He cited its multilayered international capability that provides greater defense around the world. “We have moved to a distributed global capability that is agnostic to where it is set up and delivered,” the general said, adding that this system shares awareness with people who are not necessarily allies. Not only is the United States able to bring in indigenous systems from other nations, far fewer of the systems’ sensors in the network belong to the United States. “We are finding allies in places we never had thought we would find allies,” Gen. Cartwright stated, adding “We are starting to build a deterrent construct that will be better than mutual assured destruction.”

And, a healthy economy is important to national security, he pointed out. “We’re in a major economic crisis. Economics is a big part of warfare. If you ignore it, you’ll do it at your nation’s peril,” the general declared.

This economic element also touches upon the change that is sweeping business. “We’re moving from an industrial construct in an industrial age into one that looks more like Moore’s law with a change cycle as long,” Gen. Cartwright said. “How do we build carriers to last 50 years in this cycle? An IED [improvised explosive device] cycle runs about 30 days. The fights that we’re really in—IEDs, cyber, you name it—have a duty cycle of about 30 days.

“The QDR is helping us, along with the budget, to align our forces according to the fight we’re in.”

One of the most important elements in the new defense construct is the standup of the U.S. Cyber Command, he continued. Unlike some other commands, it will be kept in line with the warfighter, he emphasized. In the civilian realm, cyberspace security is a key element of national security. Military officials are trying to develop a way to defend cyberspace amid cultural and legal challenges.

“We have no authority in the Wild Wild West called .com, but we still operate there,” he explained. “We are working very hard to find a construct in which it is appropriate for the average American to go on the network and elect to have higher protection levels that allow us to protect them. We want to be able to separate these networks, creating DMZs [demilitarized zones] around these networks that allow higher security.”


Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN, commander of the U.S. European
Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, warns of cyberthreats.

The cyber threat concerns the head of the U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Adm. James G. Stavridis, USN, told Tuesday’s overflow luncheon audience that “the dramatic increase in the use of cyber by terrorists worries me.” He stated that the world has seen a thousandfold increase in the number of jihadist and terrorist Web sites over the past 10 years. And, they also are using the Web for recruiting.

This cyberthreat is more than just another problem. It well could be the opening shot of a future war. Adm. Stavridis noted that Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Georgia all were victims of foreign cyberattacks within the past four years. And, in the case of Georgia, the attack coincided with a conventional military attack using kinetic weapons. This changes the metric for warfare.

The admiral noted that NATO’s Article V provides for the common defense in the event of an attack on any one member. Article VI defines an attack. He said that NATO needs to re-consider the definition of an attack in light of the emergence of cyberspace, which did not exist when NATO was formed.

“I believe that it’s more likely that an attack will come from not a bomb off a bomb rack, but instead electrons in cyberspace,” Adm. Stavridis declared.

Cyber issues were the focus of an entire panel discussion. Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN (Ret.), former J-6, the Joint Staff, led off her panel session by challenging the members to offer their solutions to a number of problems in the cyber domain. She asked them to answer the questions: How do you ensure that software is secure? With so many partners—both national and international—how do you acquire situational awareness of networks? How can partners share information horizontally? What’s the best way to develop cyber tactics, techniques and procedures? While panelists couldn’t address all these issues, they did speak candidly about the overall state of cyber—from security to resiliency.


Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN (Ret.), former J-6, the Joint Staff (r), leads a panel discussion about priorities in the cyber domain. Panelists included (l-r) Robert J. Carey, DON CIO; Dr. Norman Friedman, author; Terry Roberts, executive director at Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute; and Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, USN, deputy commander, STRATCOM. 

Panel member Robert Carey, CIO, USN, pointed out that dangers lurk from all sides of cyberspace. Not only does the U.S. dependence on technology become an Achilles’ heel, but commanders on the front lines now receive so much information that they are drowning in it. As shared with Carey by a commander in Fallujah talking about the endless amount of info that now flows into operations, “I don’t want ALL of it; I want IT.”

Vice Adm. Carl V. Mauney, USN, deputy commander, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), emphasized the importance of confirming the truth of all the information that’s gathered and shared. “Commanders rely on IT for C2 [command and control]—to move information, to make decisions—and we must be able to believe in that information. That is the real problem with the Internet. You can’t always count on the validity of the info,” he said. “We need to continue to identify and resolve vulnerabilities in our networks. We have not done that very well, and we need to fix that.”

Terry Roberts, an executive director with Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute and former deputy director of naval intelligence, said that when it comes to cyber defense, the U.S. Defense Department and other federal agencies have been chasing their tails because everyone looked to STRATCOM as the leader for cyber defense but has not had the authority to do what needed to be done. With the establishment of U.S. Cyber Command, a sub-unified command under STRATCOM, the best of the best personnel from each service has the leadership it needs to be truly effective.


North Korea’s Unique Challenges May Require Common Solutions

The recalcitrant regime in North Korea seems so bent on confrontation and allergic to reform that the only option for the global community may be to manage its end. That was one point of view introduced in a panel focusing on the challenges posed by North Korea. Dr. Katy Oh, a research staff member with the Institute for Defense Analyses and a non-resident senior fellow with the Brookings Institution, said that North Korea would not give up its nuclear weapons because they are its platinum card—“it’s all they have to play.” These nuclear weapons are a symptom of the regime’s problem.

She also said that waiting for the Kim Jong Il regime to go away is not the best and brightest option. “They have a black belt in survival,” she analogized. She offered four options: continue to conduct diplomacy with the goal of increasing international pressure on North Korea; increase intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance of the country—both technical and human; ensure a strong deterrence against North Korean aggression; and constructive destruction if the regime turns murderous.

South Korea is working hard to prepare for unexpected changes in North Korea’s situation, she added. And, the unexpected may determine any chance at reunification, much as it did in the early 1990s in Germany.

While the unexpected may define North Korea, some actions are pretty clear-cut, according to Sydney Seiler, deputy North Korea mission manager, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He described North Korea as a puzzle in which we have most of the pieces with which to see the picture, but we seem to curse the missing pieces.

It is quite clear that the actions seen last year are part of North Korea’s efforts to build a ballistic missile capability, he said. The hermit kingdom is likely to pursue a Pakistan- or India-type model to have other nations accept it as a nuclear power. However, Seiler emphasized, North Korea will not gain acceptance by others because of its nature.

And North Korea’s provocations and disregard for United Nations resolutions are all serious matters, declared John Hill, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia. North Korea must understand that the benefits of cooperation clearly outweigh the benefits of provocation. Its provocations have brought neighbors together, he pointed out.


Growing Piracy Raises Alarms, Calls for Solutions


Piracy panelists (l-r) Capt. Chuck Wolf, USN; Rear Adm. Terence E. McKnight, USN; Col. David W. Coffman, USMC; and Dr. Virginia Lunsford discuss the multifaceted issues confronting the war on piracy.

A panel discussion about piracy included both revealing facts and strong opinions. Panel moderator Dr. Virginia Lunsford, a professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy, opened the session by sharing how truly dire the piracy problem in the waters near Somalia has become. In 2008, there were 111 attacks; in 2010, this number jumped by 96 percent to 216 attacks. Panelists agreed that piracy is being driven by an economic engine: when anglers who had supported their families through fishing found outsiders absconding with hoards of the catch, leaving them with little to catch, they turned first to defending their waters but then to the more profitable “business” of piracy.

In addition to Lunsford, panel members included Capt. Chuck Wolf, USN, commander, Naval Special Warfare Group 4; Rear Adm. Terence E. McKnight, USN, Expeditionary Strike Group 2, and commander, Task Force 51/59/151; and Col. David Coffman, USMC, commander, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Although these experts agreed on the causes of piracy, they did not fully agree on what needs to be done to stop it. While Col. Coffman emphasized that his unit’s role is to defend U.S. interests with military force, Capt. Wolf offered that many piracy incidents can be resolved by solidifying national and international policies; displaying the will to defeat pirates; and deploying the equipment that offers non-kinetic solutions.

Even Adm. McKnight agreed that resolving piracy issues is a complicated and complex issue. One move by the U.S. Defense Department that has contributed to the complexity has been the creation of U.S. Africa Command. Although the command was created to bring some semblance of order to the issues in the area and solutions through African national cooperation, in fact it has created a chasm between the responsibilities that have belonged to U.S. Central Command large enough for pirates to sail right through.

Panelists and audience members raised a number of other circumstances that have been contributing to the piracy fight. For example, should the United States be the leader in operations to defeat them when they are not threatening a U.S. vessel? Some said yes, because it is the United States’ responsibility but also because of the nation’s interests in the area. Does the United States even have the authority to lead the war against piracy? While some of the panelists believe that this question has yet to be answered, others offered that U.N. resolutions give the United States the authority to go after pirates.


Defining a New Navy May Be More Elusive Than Funding It


Adm. Gary Roughead, USN, chief of naval opererations, describes a future info-centric Navy to luncheon attendees.

About the only certainty for the future U.S. Navy is that its ships will be diverse enough to address the uncertain challenges that will loom in the coming decades. Adm. Gary Roughead, USN, the chief of naval operations, told an overflow audience at a West 2010 luncheon that the Navy will be built around information, in both technology and practice.

“Our way forward must be centered on information and how we use it,” Adm. Roughead declared.

One of the key requirements of information is to protect it, and the admiral outlined plans for building a new career track of cyberspace experts. As many as 44,000 sailors are serving in this information group, and the Navy is creating billets for cyber warfare engineers to test computer network defense against software attack. The selection of these top-notch engineers will be similar to that of men and women of the nuclear power force, he noted. And, the Reserve component will serve as an important surge capability, with the Navy positioning some cyber centers near Reserve centers.

Adm. Roughead continued that information and intelligence are so inexorably linked that he decided to combine the two in the Navy. “We’re moving out in the area of information dominance,” he stated. “Last summer, I moved to combine our directorate of intelligence [N2] with the directorate of communications [N6]. I don’t take reorganizations lightly, but I was convinced this was the way to go.”

The admiral mentioned several key technologies that the Navy will need to maintain its supremacy in the information age. One is unmanned vehicles and systems, which are the key to moving information. The admiral noted that the Navy has deployed a vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on a ship involved in counterdrug operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean. UAVs for aircraft carriers will make a big difference for Navy operations.

Unmanned underwater vehicles also will be vitally important, but Adm. Roughead warned that their current power limits curb their effectiveness. “All the underwater sensors in the world will be useless if they have to come out of the water every 24 hours,” he stated. “We need power, and we need it quickly.”

Being able to afford new technologies and systems always is a challenge for any service, but the Navy is facing a critical moment as it weighs needed modernization against increasing budgetary pressures. A panel on affordability waxed and waned on the Navy’s ability to realize its technology needs.


Vice Adm. David J. "Jack" Dorsett, USN, the Navy’s first Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (N2/N6), describes the rationale of the new construct.

During another luncheon, Vice Adm. David J. “Jack” Dorsett, USN, the first deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance (N2/N6), outlined the three issues that he sees as key in this newly created position. The U.S. Navy must determine what it means for the United States to have information dominance, how it plans to achieve it and what the opportunities are for industry in this regard.

To address these points, the Navy is nearly finished creating road maps for several areas in the information technology field. These road maps are being kept high and tight so that they are documents of action rather than documents collecting dust, the admiral stated. In addition, these plans will be shared with industry this year up to and including the classified level.

Adm. Dorsett related that the road map includes the principles that will be carried through plans for every sensor as well as how to network these sensors and how any shooter will be able to draw information and intelligence from the network. Sensors must not be stovepiped, the admiral stressed.

Under this general umbrella, road maps either have been or are being developed in several categories. These include undersea dominance; maritime intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; maritime ballistic C2; improved maritime domain awareness; unmanned systems; the Navy’s role in cyber offense and defense; fire control; integrated sensors; and C2 at the tip of the bow. “This is a fundamental break from how this has been done before,” Adm. Dorsett said.

The admiral also emphasized that industry must be brought in earlier during the research, development and decision-making process. In this way, the Navy will benefit from knowing the available solutions, and industry will know where and how to spend its research and development resources. In fact, the service will share its road maps with industry partners at the classified level, first during a forum in June and again in September. During the first event, the Navy will discuss its requirements; during the second, industry is expected to come to the table with its ideas and solutions, he explained.


David Hartman (l) moderates the breakfast dialogue panel focusing on the future of the U.S. Navy with panelists (l-r) Cdr. Bryan McGrath, USN (Ret.), and Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work.

A special breakfast panel moderated by former Good Morning America host David Hartman tried to determine what kind of navy the United States needed. A key underlying point is that the Navy faces the same degree of uncertainty as do the other military services in trying to plan for the future force. However, the consequences of a miscalculation are greater for the sea service. It has major platforms—such as aircraft carriers—that are designed to last 50 years, and building the wrong kind of force can be as difficult to correct as a 180-degree tight turn for one of those carriers. 

One answer was a modern navy, according to Cdr. Bryan McGrath, USN (Ret.), director of consulting, studies and analysis, Delex Systems Incorporated. Cdr. McGrath noted that today’s Navy was designed in the Jimmy Carter administration to defeat the Soviet Union. The current U.S. Navy is flexible enough that it remains relevant, but emerging challenges will require a Navy that is capable of dealing with them.

And flexibility will be more important than numbers, according to Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy. The Navy must maintain a persistent global presence, support counterinsurgency, support maritime security operations and must maximize the capability of every platform in the fleet, he declared. “We neither want nor need a regional navy,” he said, adding “we want a true global deployable navy.”

McGrath charged that the Navy is oversubscribed in land attack. “We don’t spend enough time and energy on what navies do: sea control,” he declared. He called for the development of a “navy-killing navy,” adding that a navy built around that capability would be able to conduct most of the other operations that could arise.

“Congress has a good record of giving us what we ask for,” McGrath added. “The problem is, are we asking for the right thing? Congress is cocked and loaded to give us more resources. We just have to ask them.”


Panelists discussing the affordability of new Navy technologies include (l-r) Thomas Hone, Naval War College Liaison with OPNAV; Lou Von Thaer, corporate vice president, General Dynamics and president, General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems; Vice Adm. Jack Dorsett, USN, new N2/N6; Robert O. Work, undersecretary of the Navy; and panel moderator Richard Diamond Jr., strategic planner, Raytheon IDS Strategic Assessments.

In a panel discussion, Adm. Dorsett stated that the Navy needs to prioritize better and to take a holistic view across warfighting areas and capabilities. He also cautioned against shaving networks to make them work. Meanwhile, industry needs stable, solid management; a technically proficient workforce; realistic assessments of the state of technology; and solid oversight of sub prime contractors, he said.

Thomas Hone, Naval War College Liaison with OPNAV, called for industrializing the production of software. “We don’t have software that can make software,” he observed, and he drew a historical parallel to how the automobile became ubiquitous after Henry Ford automated its construction to mass-produce millions. Great achievements can take place when software is mass-produced, he said.


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