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The Army and the Cyberspace Crossroads
Prepared Remarks of Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, chief of staff, U.S. Army, Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association TECHNET 97, Washington, Tuesday, June 17, 1997

Defense Issues: Volume 12, Number 33-- The Army and the Cyberspace Crossroads We need to focus on and pull forward the technology we will need in 2020. Combine that technology with the tactics, techniques and procedures being developed now and a "Revolution in Military Affairs" begins.


Volume 12, Number 33

The Army and the Cyberspace Crossroads

Prepared remarks by Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, chief of staff, U.S. Army, at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association TECHNET 97, Washington, June 17, 1997.

Thank you. ... I am truly delighted to be here to talk about the United States Army and to participate in this conference. It is really the world's largest conference devoted to command, control, communications intelligence, electronics and information technology. It is a very special event and I think your theme -- "Information Technology in the 21st Century -- Meeting the Cyberspace Challenge" -- is really a very vital part of what we're all about today in the Army and throughout the military. I believe that the information technology revolution is the major challenge we face, and I can sum up the key to success with the word "change" because change is what we're all about.

For the United States Army, the 21st century began in 1989. That was the year the Berlin Wall came down and that was the year that our world turned upside down. Since that time I think we have changed the Army -- physically and culturally. Physically, it's very easy to describe, because you know the numbers probably as well as I do.

We've taken out over 600,000 people in the Army -- active, reserve component, and DA [Department of the Army] civilians. We've closed over 700 bases, most of those in Europe, but if you add up all the bases, we've closed the equivalent of about 12 Fort Hoods [Texas] or Fort Carsons [Colo.] or Fort Rileys [Kan.] in the continental United States. Our resources have come down about 40 percent and our infrastructure has come down about 36 percent. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that we can't do business the way we've done it in the past -- we have to make ends meet. So that's the challenge that we face with physical change.

We've also changed the Army culturally. We've changed it from a forward-deployed containment force to a power projection force, able to respond anywhere in the world on a moment's notice. We've changed it from a threat-based force to a capabilities-based force. The capabilities-based force has four capabilities that are terribly important to us.

First is our ability to deter an enemy -- and to deter an enemy we must be strong. Next, is our ability to compel an adversary if deterrence fails. We also must be able to reassure our allies and friends -- to work with the emerging countries in Central and Eastern Europe and teach them about democracy and how important it is to have the military subordinate to a freely elected government.

And the last capability is to be able to provide military support to civilian authorities -- we do on a continuous basis throughout the United States. The cultural change that has occurred is very difficult to quantify, but it's very real because it affects our people emotionally and it matters to them in terms of quality of life and taking care of our soldiers and their families.

The change that we've experienced in the military in the last seven or eight years has been unprecedented. I don't think you could find any time in military history where we've changed the military force so much and kept it training-ready seven or eight years later. The reason is no secret; we put people first.

Today, the United States military has a seat in the front row of the world arena. We have an opportunity to fundamentally change the Army and our military forces -- to reshape our forces for the 21st century. That's what the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is all about.

I'd like to talk a little bit about the QDR because it's a terribly important to our military and our Army. The QDR is our third opportunity to restructure the Defense Department since the end of the Cold War. What we tried to do is to project ourselves out into the 2020 time frame and then, look back and analyze the capabilities that we would need at that point in time to be able to respond to the needs of the nation.

From the year 2020, we looked back to where you are today and connected the dots. By projecting back from the future we found the path that we want to travel and a path that we must travel if we're going to have the forces necessary for the 2020 time frame.

So if we were historians and we went out to 2020, and we looked back, what would we see if we shaped our forces right? First of all, I think we'd see peace and democracy flourishing around the world. I think we'd have an opportunity to fundamentally set that in place. I think we'd find that the United States remains a global superpower -- politically, morally, economically and militarily. Why? Because we got the strategy and the forces necessary to execute that strategy right in 1997 with the QDR. Let me talk for a minute about the strategy.

The strategy that we developed for the QDR really reflects the world as we see it, not the world that we wish it to be. We spent an awful lot of time looking at what we were doing today and projecting that into the future and we came up with three pillars of our strategy.

First, we must be able to respond to events as they occur. Second, we have an opportunity to shape the world we want to live in. And third, we must prepare now for the future world.

With the "respond" pillar, we're talking about being able to respond to a crisis wherever it occurs around the world, whether it's Korea or Kuwait, wherever it may be. We must be able to move forces very quickly and that requires a total joint effort in terms of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and, in many cases, the Coast Guard.

The second pillar of our strategy is to be able to "shape" the world -- it is a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous challenge -- to be able to make the world in the 21st century safer for our children and grandchildren. We cannot fail to seize that opportunity. But at the same time, we have to "prepare" our forces for a totally different type of mission, the third pillar of our strategy. To do that, we have to start now by focusing our attention and figuring out what we are going to need in the 2020 time frame. That's what the QDR is all about and that's what the Army has been all about for the last couple of years.

Our analysis for the future points out that we need a capability called "strategic pre-emption." Strategic pre-emption is the ability to halt or prevent a conflict or crisis before it becomes debilitating or protracted -- before it spreads out of control. That means that we must be able to respond quickly; we must be able to get our forces there rapidly. To do that, we must have the right forces, and that's why we are trying to build the right military forces to execute that strategy. We will evolve those forces over time to develop the tactics, techniques and procedures they will need. Let me talk a little bit about what I think those forces will look like.

First of all, I think they must be joint by design. We must embrace a "standing joint task force" because that's the kind of forces we're going to need in the future. They must be small; they must be mobile; they must be hard-hitting. The forces that we will have must be able to fully exploit the tremendous potential that comes from information age technology. We have to accept it, we have to learn to use it, and we have to learn to leverage it. We must have streamlined headquarters. We cannot afford the heavy headquarters that we've had in the past, so we must be able to streamline those. We must be able to train the way we fight, and that means if we're going to fight "jointly" we must be able to train "jointly."

We need to figure out how to do that now so that when we're called on we're ready. We must be more strategically and tactically mobile -- to be able to move quickly anywhere around the world. And then, once we're on the battlefield, we must be able to move faster and be more agile than any potential enemy.

We must be versatile -- to be able to handle a large number of different and complex missions and to adjust from one to the other rapidly. We've demonstrated that in Bosnia, where the rules of engagement allow us to enforce peace, and at the same time we're prepared to go to war in a heartbeat if required. We must be able to transition quickly from lethal to nonlethal means and to be able to deploy that capability on the battlefield in a way that is applicable to each.

Logistically, we must be unencumbered. We can no longer afford the large amount of equipment that we traditionally moved from one place to the other during the Cold War. We must be able to move quickly around the world and provide our troops with the supplies and repair parts they need in a timely manner. That means that we're going to have a smaller and more mobile force. In order to do that, we must leverage information technology.

It seems to me that we are at a crossroads today. We know where we must go. We have two paths that we can follow -- one is the "creep-ahead" path and the other is the "leap-ahead" path. Let me suggest how we can leap ahead to the future. I'm sure those of you who heard [Army] Lt. Gen. Otto Guenther [director, information systems for command, control, communications and computers] speak this morning know what we did with the Advanced Warfighting Experiment (AWE) at the National Training Center [Fort Irwin, Calif.] earlier this year. That was an important experiment for us because we caught a glimpse of the future. We know what the future should look like, and we're thrilled and excited about the prospects that we have seen. We have an opportunity to move the Army from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.

I believe the AWE concept -- the Force XXI Process -- allows us to do that. Information technology provides the opportunity to leap ahead. Did we do it perfectly during the AWE? No, we didn't, but it was an experiment and we did it very, very well. I'm not swayed by the naysayers who say, "Well, you didn't do it right -- you had more fratricide than you did in the last rotation." I just simply point out that they didn't see it out there, didn't feel it, didn't taste it. They didn't talk to soldiers.

I'm much more influenced by the soldiers I talked to during the AWE than by the analysis from organizations that weren't there looking at it on a daily basis. What we have to do now is to take all of the analysis that we've done and make some firm conclusions about what's important for the future. I think we learned a lot from this experiment.

Let me talk about a couple of concepts that I think are important. First of all, we went into the AWE believing very strongly that we had to have a team concept. We put the developers, the users and the testers together at Fort Hood and we took them to the National Training Center and that worked out very, very well. I'm also convinced that information age technology works.

What we find is the young soldiers that are in our Army today are from what I call the "Pac-Man generation," and they really know how to make information age technology work. The challenge is for people with gray hair, like mine, who scratch their head and say, "I wonder how they did that?" I think we have to embrace Information Age technology, and we have to accept the fact that it really works.

The thing that swayed me the most was when I traveled to the NTC with Secretary of Defense [William S.] Cohen and we visited the task force operations centers and the operations officer talked to him about situational awareness.

He said, "You know, before we had situational awareness, before we were able to answer the questions, "'Where am I?'" "'Where are my buddies?'" and "'Where is the enemy?', I spent 70 percent of my time gathering information, and 30 percent of my time trying to make a recommendation or give advice to the command. With situational awareness, that's reversed. I now spend 30 percent of my time gathering information and 70 percent analyzing it and making recommendations."

That convinced me that we are onto something big -- something good.

There were a lot of systems that worked very well during the AWE. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the Apache Longbow, the Javelin and many others all worked well. I'm convinced that we can take these systems and adapt them to Information Age technology and get an enhanced capability that we never had before. What we must do is stay the course and seize the opportunity to continue the transformation from the Industrial Age to the Information Age.

The principles that should guide our transformation are clear. Our forces -- air, land and sea -- must be balanced, appropriate and relevant. The national strategy must be the gauge we measure ourselves by. We must make the generating forces as efficient as we possibly can. Most importantly, we must align defense resources with the national strategy and provide long-term stability in investment programs. If you agree with those principles, then I think we need to seize this opportunity and make the changes that we need for our future.

If we're going to make some changes, I think it requires adjustment in three areas. First, we must establish a process of joint experimentation and integration. Next, we must realign our defense modernization strategy. And third, we must have a "Revolution in Business Affairs." Let me talk about each of them.

Joint experimentation and integration is absolutely critical and I don't think it's as difficult to do as one might expect. We fundamentally agree that we must fight as a joint team today. If you look at how the military has been used since 1989, you will see that 25 of the 27 major military operations have been conducted by the joint team. So joint experimentation and integration offers us a mechanism to cross-level ideas, to develop tactics, techniques and procedures and to develop the weapons, equipment and doctrine that the joint force is going to need to fight or handle future operations. In essence, we must make the joint concepts and capabilities envisioned in Joint Vision 2010 a reality.

We can start by linking the service's training and experimentation centers in the southwest United States and conduct the experimentation in real time. We can do it by setting up a standing joint task force. It's the best way to conceptualize and develop the truly joint forces for the future. We can do it through the use of simulation technologies, because I think we can develop a synthetic battle and we can work synthetic units with real units and develop virtual battlegrounds and really learn a great deal from simulations at reduced costs.

What we're really trying to do is to create "virtual veterans," people who will not be experiencing the rigors of combat and the rigors of being under pressure for the first time when we send them on operations. They will be fully prepared because they've been trained at home station or at the joint experimentation center before they deploy. Linking the training centers and experimentation centers is the first step, but it's not the only step.

We must also conduct joint field exercises and maneuvers. We must take good ideas and experiment with them on the ground to see how it works in the hands of our troops. We must try out the promising doctrine and we must develop the tactics, techniques and procedures. Our troops do that better than anybody else. We must validate the concepts that we develop in classrooms and through simulations on the ground. I think this leap-ahead opportunity or leap-ahead approach offers the services tremendous opportunities.

This leads to the second component that I talked about in seizing the strategic opportunity; that is, to realign our defense modernization strategy. This is an opportunity to make sure that our modernization strategy is complementary -- not just a single service modernization strategy -- but a joint and combined modernization strategy.

To accomplish this we need to refocus our modernization investment. Our current capabilities, with some focused enhancements, particularly in the area of information dominance, are adequate to take us through 2010. What we need to do now is refocus our science and technology field to pull forward the technology that we will need in the 2020 time frame. When we combine that technology with the tactics, techniques and procedures that we are developing in the experimentation process, we will truly have a "Revolution in Military Affairs."

Finally, if we're going to have a Revolution in Military Affairs, we must first have a Revolution in Business Affairs. We cannot afford the strategy without a revolution in business affairs; that, in my mind, is a given.

We have to capitalize on the innovation and productivity of American industry. We really need to develop a very strong partnership with industry and the Congress to make all this happen or we're not going to be able to provide the nation with the force that it needs. We need to benchmark the best business practices in industry. We need to streamline our headquarters, reduce the infrastructure and incentivize efficient management. We must leverage corporate America's ability to rapidly adjust to changes in the marketplace and make that part of our military personality. In short, we must substitute information for inventory in the future.

We have a window of opportunity to fundamentally reshape the forces for the 21st century. We must do that consistent with the national strategy and the realities of the geostrategic environment. It requires that we embrace an alternative path, a leap-ahead path, as I call it. For it to be a leap-ahead path, we must become more joint and we must embrace joint experimentation and integration. We must define the synergies of the services' modernization plans and transform that into a defense modernization plan. And as I mentioned earlier, we must capitalize on efficiencies that industry has realized and make that part of the military culture.

Jeffrey Perret, in his book "There's a War To Be Won," talked about the difficulty of change as the U.S. Army struggled during the pre-World War II time frame to prepare the forces necessary to fight and win that war. He said, "The early 1930s weren't conducive to sweeping reforms; the Army had enough on its hands just trying to stay in business."

Today we have an opportunity to fundamentally change for the future. We have a lot on our hands, but I think we can make sweeping reforms. If we don't, we will miss a golden opportunity. What we have to do is be true to the strategy of respond, shape and prepare and we can make the vision that we looked at in 2020 become a reality. We don't want a smaller version of the Cold War force; we want a force designed to meet the strategy and needs of the nation. That's what we're all about and that's what the Quadrennial Defense Review is all about.

I thank you very much for your kind attention this afternoon, and I thank you very much for your support of the military. God bless you for that.


Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at 8