Transformation Part of War on Terror, Myers says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2003 Transforming the U.S. armed forces while still fighting a global war on terrorism is the biggest challenge facing military leaders today, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said today.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff delivered the luncheon address at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and U.S. Navy-sponsored Fletcher Conference here.
Myers said the war on terrorism is unlike any war the United States has fought before, and this demands new thinking, new tactics and new capabilities. "I would say transforming our armed forces is not optional," Myers said.
The military must transform to counter the terrorist threat and to meet future unknown threats, he said. "We have to focus on the near-, the mid- and the long-term capabilities all at the same time. That task is every bit as difficult as it sounds."
Ensuring transformation takes place is more than just buying new equipment or upgrading technology in older equipment, Myers said. It requires a change in culture in the military.
Military transformation does just entail harnessing technology, the chairman said, "but I'm less interested in new and improved airplanes, or fighting vehicles or ships that do the same thing we've always done. The real point of technology is to give us new solutions and new ways of doing business."
Myers used the Army's Stryker Brigade as an example. The brigade takes its name from the eight-wheeled vehicles that will transport infantry squads on the battlefield.
"But the Stryker brigade isn't primarily about new vehicles," he said. "It's about a new way of organizing a brigade. It's about networked command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance. It's about links that allow commanders to see and share and understand information about the battlespace."
Commanders acquire a level of awareness of the battle impossible in the past, he continued. The brigade is designed so that when the troops arrive at a site and debark the vehicle, they have situational awareness that is unrivalled. "It really is a whole new way of doing business," Myers emphasized.
The brigade is in Kuwait getting ready to deploy into Iraq.
Myers said transformation has to affect the whole of spectrum of changes. He named an acronym to reflect this DOTMLPF, or doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership, personnel and facilities.
"We like to focus on the 'M' in there the materiel solutions," he said. "We like to call that transformation.
But Myers countered with "a whole different view. I think there is more transformation that goes on in the other letters in the DOTMLPF than in the 'M' word."
He said transformation is hard, mental work and must have an intellectual component in it. "What happens between the ears of the warfighter and those that support the warfighter is more important than the technology or materiel piece," he said.
Transformational technology does not have to cost an arm and a leg. He cited the Marine Corps' Dragon Eye unmanned aerial vehicle. The UAV looks like a radio-controlled airplane you can buy in a kit. Add some sensors to it and it becomes an invaluable reconnaissance tool for a platoon trying to find out what's on the other side of the hill or on the next city street, Myers said.
Breaking down the barriers between the services has helped transformation, and breaking them down more will help in the future. At the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, special operations forces on the ground had to rely on aerial attacks from all services.
Myers said that required a "whole new level of trust and cooperation among formerly disparate organizations." The joint cooperation in Afghanistan was excellent, he noted.
But Iraqi Freedom is the true joint operation, he said. The service components relied upon each other on the Iraqi battlefield. Iraqi Freedom also went beyond simple joint operations and included coalition partners in a combined manner.
Continuing this transformation process is important. Myers said he is looking to change professional military education to make it joint at the junior officer level and ensure senior enlisted personnel receive joint training. He is also looking at a very senior lieutenant generals and vice admirals joint course for those men and women readying to command joint task forces.
"Understanding what transformation is and being committed to transformation aren't enough to make it happen for us," Myers said. "We have to create the right environment, an environment where people are encouraged to think innovatively that means taking risks and making mistakes and living to tell about it and turn ideas into practical solutions."