Joint Integration and Flexibility Must Be Retained for Complex Road Ahead

May 12, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Leaders today are being called upon to shape the future in a very different budget environment than ever before, and this will have an impact on the Navy and all services. The challenge, according to Adm. Gary Roughead, USN, Chief of Naval Operations, is that none of us has ever had to lead in this environment. "We are in uncharted territory," he explained at the AFCEA/USNI Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach, Virginia. And we must lead without any examples to look back upon, he added. The path ahead is to determine how we see the future unfolding and what we want the forces to do, the admiral recommended. From that, the leaders then can make the hard decisions. As leaders look at need and size, however, they have to keep in mind the nature of the industrial base. It is fragile, and it cannot be re-created if lost, he warned. "When the development of the joint strike fighter is done, it will mark the first time since World War I that there is not a new tactical aircraft under development," he related, adding that "You have to take a look at keeping that base going and how do you do that. It is complex and hard, but those are the cards that we are dealt," he acknowledged. For all that has changed in the budget environment, there are some constants in the world we live in that cannot be overlooked, and there is a continuing need for an offshore option that the U.S. Navy and the navies of the world will provide. The stakes of growing complexity and disorder are high, and joint integration has increasing value. "Our Navy today can fit into the context of joint force and coalition forces," the admiral stated. Global trade and economic interest will direct the interaction of all states, and the speed of this in the information age and the speed with which events develop will change the ability to lead these developments. "The Navy's small footprint and flexible range and platforms give the nation attractive options," the admiral noted. "Navy personnel are deployed in ways we would not have imagined," he reported. The flexibility of the force is an essential capability for the United States. The Navy is not only serving in Afghanistan, but it also has provided missile support for the no-fly zone in Libya and has had assets diverted to Japan for humanitarian assistance in a three fold disaster: one that involved an earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis unlike the world has ever seen.

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