Vast Changes Sweep Military in New Millennium

May 10, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The 9/11 attacks and subsequent combat operations have spawned significant changes in military structure and operations, said a panel of experts at Joint Warfighting Conference 2011 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. These changes are still evolving, and more probably lie ahead in the near future. One of these big changes involves lessons gleaned from small unit operations. Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, stated that the past nine years have compelled the military to learn how to push capacity to the tactical edge where these units are located. Much has been learned, but more remains to be learned. Lt. Gen. William J. Rew, USAF, vice commander, Air Combat Command, offered that the Air Force was "not ready for the seam between the air component and the ground component." When U.S. forces invaded Iraq, the Air Force system was designed for kinetic operations, and it was not ready for asymmetric warfare. So, the Air Force looked at how the Marine Corps was handling its theater air warfare challenges and made its own changes, he said. According to Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, USMC, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, a significant change has been how noncommissioned officers (NCOs) have developed over the past 15 years. Today's NCOs have an understanding of the tactical and strategic aspects of war-all the way up to the level of Gen. Petraeus, he said. Today's navy is not the navy of 10 years ago, stated Vice Adm. Al Krekich, USN (Ret.), former commander, Surface Forces Pacific. The Navy may need to redeploy its fleets from a 50-50 split between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans to a 60-40 split favoring the Pacific region, he suggested. This undoubtedly will have side effects if the service moves a carrier from Norfolk to San Diego or Guam, for example.

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