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Dunford: Command, Control Must 'Keep Pace' in 21st Century

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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STUTTGART, Germany, January 4, 2016 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during an interview today that he is taking a broader look at the unified command plan and will focus on enhancing the speed, flexibility and agility of the joint force.

“The nature of war doesn’t change, but the character of war does, and our command and control construct needs to keep pace to the character of war,” Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford said.

The core of the current plan essentially grew out of the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, and changes have been made over the years. U.S. Africa Command, for example, was set up in 2007 and U.S. Joint Forces Command was disestablished in 2011.

But, Dunford said, he is not looking for a quick and easy shuffling of commands. “The broader issue for me is what is the right organizational construct to deal with the challenges we’re going to have in the 21st century,” the chairmansaid.

Transregional, Multifunctional

He said his assumptions about the future of warfare are that most conflicts will quickly become transregional -- expanding beyond one or two countries -- and become multi-domain, to include land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace. He also posited that conflicts will be multifunctional – meaning ballistic missile defense, conventional capabilities and so on.

The DoD must look at the full range of what can happen, Dunford said. “We need to make sure in the context of transregional, multidomain, multifunctional conflicts that we have the right command-and-control construct in place to integrate joint capabilities and support rapid decision-making by national command authorities,” the chairman said. “That’s the strategic discussion we’re having about command and control.”

A part of what officials need to look at is what the U.S. military needs in each region to advance American interests, and this runs the gamut from day-to-day operations to potential conflict, he said. “The broader question … is, ‘Are we properly postured today for the challenges we expect to face tomorrow, globally?’” Dunford said.

“We’re going to look broadly at the unified command plan and agree as a team that we make recommendations to the secretary of defense and subsequently the Congress for changes that will allow us to move forward,” the chairman said.