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Backgrounder On Exercise Internal Look

Presenter: Senior Central Command Official
December 04, 2002 11:00 AM EDT

Wednesday, December 4, 2002 - 11 A.M EST

Senior Official: At this point, we will go on background, and both myself and the Qatar officials will be referred to as "Senior CENTCOM Officials."

I want to begin by saying if you go to our website at www.centcom.mil we have put up four pages of photos of the construction of the newly deployable headquarters in Qatar. These are photos that we wanted to make sure you could see to get sort of an understanding of what it looks like there, obviously, no photos of the classified areas. But we wanted to give you some basic understanding of what this all looks like.

Exercise Internal Look is designed to exercise the command, control and communications ability of Central Command Headquarters and all of our different component commands who are spread throughout our AOR (area of responsibility) in other parts of the world. What this exercise is going to do is test and exercise our ability to communicate on the modern battlefield. This exercise is going to be a very complex computer-based and assisted exercise that will not involve combat forces. I'll speak about that in a second. The CENTCOM battle staff and military personnel are going to participate in realistic, but obviously fictitious military scenarios. What this exercise is designed to do is to hone our battle staff's ability to command from a forward-deployed location while maintaining seamless connectivity with our folks back here in Tampa at the Central Command main headquarters.

One of the most important things we will be doing in Exercise Internal Look is testing our newly constructed deployable headquarters, which I'll speak about more in a second. This new headquarters is built of several modular buildings that allow General Franks to basically do anything he does here in Tampa over there in Qatar. It allows him to work in much more closer proximity to our component commanders and their forces.

This is not a new exercise. Internal Look was held in 1990, 1996, and 2000. As, obviously, technology has changed and the battlefield and the battle space has changed, Internal Look has been conducted. This is the first time I believe it's been done outside of the United States.

Internal Look will involve, roughly, by the time you add them all up, about a thousand Central Command personnel, when you add up our administrative staff and our battle staff. They will be in As Sayliyah, Qatar. And we're going to have our staff from our other supporting military commands, which will bring the total to actually several thousand people who will participate in this command and control exercise. We'll have folks from ARCENT, NAVCENT, CENTAF, MARCENT, and SOCENT, among others, participating. So, it will be very comprehensive world-wide exercise.

Oh, and the question of combat troops, a lot of you have asked if combat troops are going to be involved. And the answer is no, this is a computer-based exercise. This is not a typical tactical type of exercise where you would see troops moving around in different parts of the AOR. This will not be a high visibility exercise of that tactical type.

A couple of key facts before I go to Qatar on the newly deployable headquarters, for years Central Command has perceived the capability of being able to have split headquarter operations, where a portion of senior staff and the battle staff with General Franks moves forward into the area of responsibility, and the rest of the command remains back here at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

After working on this for some time, the command has sent over what we call the CDHQ, which is CENTCOM deployable headquarters, another fun acronym for those of you who are acronym junkies. I want to make a key point about this. It is set up at As Sayliyah in Qatar, but it can be anywhere in our area of responsibility. This is not just a headquarters that can be in Qatar. It can go anywhere in our 25-country AOR.

I'm going to let our folks in Qatar talk a little bit more about this, but the CDHQ consists of a number of modern buildings; very modular, very cutting-edge technology. They're built to provide a livable environment for our personnel who are manning them. As you know, in our AOR, we have a lot of heat and a lot of cold. And so these can work in any kind of extreme heat or inclement weather. All these buildings will accommodate, and you'll see in the photos, they will accommodate all the technology we need to compete on the modern battlefield, including advanced computer connectivity, video conference capabilities for real-time communications with our commanders in theater and back here in Florida.

Several times a week, General Franks does video teleconference calls with his combatant commanders and others in the AOR. We will be testing a lot of that during this exercise. So he will continue to have those capabilities.

Some background: The headquarters physically was built in St. Petersburg, Florida, by Raytheon. I'm sure if you contact them, they can give you some more details. This past September, the headquarters was actually fully constructed here in St. Petersburg, and they ran a full operational test of the facilities to make sure everything worked okay. And in October the new headquarters was shipped overseas to Qatar in several pieces and then reassembled once it arrived there.

A couple other questions before you go to Qatar. A lot of you have asked how we're going to handle media at Operation Internal Look. Our philosophy here is we want to allow as much media coverage and access as possible without compromising any of our critical classified national security information. We're happy to talk to all of you offline, one on one, about different operations. I know we have, I believe, dozens and dozens of reporters that are already in Qatar, and I know at least 50 or 60 of you on this call are already embedded in different parts of the AOR and will be there during this exercise. I just urge you to contact us. We want to do what we can to help facilitate what we can do to help as much as possible during this, what I know will be, a heavily covered exercise.

With that, I want to turn to Qatar and let our senior officials there fill in the holes that I've missed.

Senior Official: You've just about covered all of the high points of the description -- (off mike). I will tell you that from a human practice perspective, the shelters are very conducive to doing the work that we need to do out here, performing our tactics, techniques and procedures as staff planners. It's very well laid out in terms of being able to adjust to the -- (off mike) -- issues we face on a daily basis. And the key thing is the digital connectivity that we have throughout the AOR-our subordinate commands, higher, lower, left and right, as well as back to CONUS, to Tampa, at the main headquarters, and other places that we need to coordinate with.

For the most part, the staff officers are fully embedded in their-in what we call our battle rhythm, which is the daily synchronized activities, kind of a deliberate discipline process for the planning and practice of our staff tasks-fully embedded in that. We've been able to focus on that. And I'll tell you that that's one of the great benefits of this event in traveling to our AOR, in that it sort of gets us away from the flagpole and allows us to focus on those war-fighting skills that we may have become deficient in, in other operations. And it gives us a chance to exercise those and get better, which is what this is all about.

Senior Official: Anyone else have anything in Qatar to add before we jump to questions?

Senior Official: I think that just about covers it. I think I can honestly tell you the quality of life for the folks who are participating in the exercise is very good and has allowed us to be very functional. It's not unlike being at home, from that standpoint.

Senior Official: We have established a press center here. We're hoping to be able to have (some kind of media event. We're not sure exactly whether we're going to have that or not. The press center is very functional, with all the capability that you need to be able to communicate back home, not unlike the CDHQ itself.

Senior Official: Thanks a lot.

At this point, if we could go up to the Pentagon and let our moderator up there, if anyone has a question, go ahead and ask.

Q: This is Charlie Aldinger with Reuters. Senior Official: Hey, Charlie. How you doing?

Q: Just fine, thanks. Anybody can answer this. I've got a couple of questions. Number one, what are the exact dates of the exercise? Number two, when is General Franks going to be there? And number three, what are the likelihood of a large number of these people remaining beyond the exercise, on the theory that there might be a war against Iraq next year?

Senior Official: Three good questions. First question on exact date of the exercise, actually, you know, a lot of the testing and things are done because it's sort of a rolling exercise. I think you can anticipate somewhere around the 9th and somewhere around the 16th or 17th it beginning and ending.

In terms of General Franks's involvement, we will leave the next day or so to head over to the AOR. General Franks and others will be doing a lot of traveling in the AOR, around there. He'll be in and out of the exercise. But he will be over there.

And then in terms of staying, I can tell you no decision's been made about whether or not we -- (off mike). The senior battle staff and General Franks comes back, you know, that General Franks continues to preserve his flexibility, you know, subsequent to the civilian leadership and what they-the orders they give us.

QHi. This is Pam Hess with United Press International at the Pentagon.

Senior Official: Hello.

Q: How many buildings are involved in the CDHQ? What was the cost of development? And could you tell us, on a more substantive note, how might having had this technology in the CDHQ changed the pursuit of the Afghan war if the technology was available then? And what is the benefit of being able to have a command staff forward?

Senior Official: Let me take that question. I'd like to turn to (the other briefer) to answer the building question -- (inaudible) -- the war in Afghanistan.

Everything General Franks needs to prosecute the war on terrorism is here in Tampa. What this does do is give him, you know, additional flexibility. And so, you know, I don't want to go down the line of that.

I'd like to turn it over to (the other briefer) now about the physical buildings.

Senior Official: Yeah. Let me just say that there is no exact number of buildings involved with this. The key word for this is flexibility. We have several buildings that are able to adapt to whatever situation we need, whatever location we need. So there's no exact number of buildings. To be quite honest with you, I'm not even sure exactly how many we're using on this particular one. I'm looking at my expert here. He's not sure either. But the key is flexibility. We have what we need to do the job.

In terms of cost, I'd have to get that figure for you. We're not sure what that is either.

QAnd the benefit of being forward?

Senior Official: The clear advantage of being forward is just flexibility. If you make the comparison with Afghanistan, I think from a technological standpoint, no difference. The advantage is, as with (many ?) war fighters, is being able to be as close to the battlefront as possible. There is an advantage to that. If you could just take the example of General Franks, for example, he often spends a lot of time traveling back and forth AOR, all the way from Tampa. A lot of time. If he had the advantage of having a more forward headquarters, that time is reduced and he can cover more area and be able to communicate face to face with more of his leadership.

Q: Hi. This is Kathy Rhem from the American Forces Press Service. Is there living quarters included in this headquarters? And if so, what are your living conditions like? And you said that there's no decision been made on whether the staff stays there or not, but has a decision been made on whether the headquarters stays there; and will it be left assembled or torn down and stored?

Senior Official: I'll tackle the one on living quarters. Living is pretty large down here. It's a combination of containers with two-men containers, hardened shelters, which offer some limited protection. (Off mike) And for spill-over-i.e., additional personnel that need to be built up as we work this issue,- we have tents that are also air conditioned, with cots. For an Army guy, that's pretty good living. Maybe the Air Force doesn't -- (off mike) -- but for an Army guy, we're living pretty large out here.

I forgot the second question you asked.

Senior Official: I'll take that one. It was on remaining in Qatar. And the answer is that I think for the time being, the headquarters will remain in Qatar.

QThis is Jim Mannion from AFP, calling from the Pentagon. I wonder if you could go into what the scenarios are that are going to be exercised in the-you know, in this exercise.

Senior Official: Do you want to take that one?

Senior Official: We won't be able to go into the specific scenario, but suffice to say that we have a number of contingencies and possibilities that can happen in this AOR, within the 25 countries that we're responsible for. The design of this exercise, it always has been, is to test some of those contingencies that could possibly happen.

Q: Do they include contingencies involving Iraq?

Senior Official: Include a number of contingencies that could possibly happen in our AOR.

Q: I mean the major contingency that you're looking at is a possible war with Iraq, right? So is it safe to assume that that's-you know, that that's a major contingency that you will be looking at?

Senior Official: Clearly that's (some of the ?) consideration, but that is not the only consideration that would be done.

Q: This is Deal McDade (sp) with Soldiers Radio and Television. This is similar, it sounds like, to Lucky Sentinel exercises. Do the coalition partners also play a strong part?

Senior Official: We typically have allowed our coalition partners to announce their participation in things like this. But I don't want to talk about which nations well participate; but others will.

Q: This is Nick Childs at the Pentagon, with the BBC. Could you just say whether, as part of this exercise, the time it takes to deploy the headquarters out to the area was part of the exercise? And could you say how long it would take you to deploy out to the area?

And also, I think the British have suggested that they might have something between 2(00) and 300 people in Qatar as part of the exercise. Could you say at least a little bit more about the number of other foreign participants there are and whether there is a substantial British contingent?

Senior Official: Yeah. I've seen those news reports today about the United Kingdom, who, by the way, is just a fantastic coalition partner in everything they do in the war on terrorism and all the AOR.

Again, I don't want to get into the nation contributions. I'd like to leave that to the governments to explain [themselves].

Qatar, do you want to take the other question?

Senior Official: I'm sorry. What was the question again?

Q: Was part of the exercise to see how quickly you could actually deploy the headquarters into the region? And if so, how quickly can you deploy from the United States into the region?

Senior Official: Well, that again depends on the flexibility we need to have for the exercise. I can tell you that because this is the first time we've done it, that historically, just by virtue of the way we do things, it's taken a little bit long than usual. I'd say the next time this thing gets deployed, the time will get shorter, and each time we deploy this thing, it will get shorter and shorter.

But the key word is the flexibility. Because we're -- (off mike) -- particular time, it's taken a little bit longer, because we're using a bit more than we than we may ever necessarily need. If in the future we need a smaller portion of it, obviously -- (off mike) -- takes less time.

Q: Hi. This is Moiz Mannan from the Peninsula newspaper in Qatar. You said the headquarter will remain in Qatar for the time being. Can you please define "time being"? Can you specify on that, please?

Senior Official: I really can't specify any more than to tell you that, you know, for the time being it'll remain there.

Q: This is Charles Featherstone with the Saudi Press Agency. Are you going to be cooperating at all with other U.S. headquarters in the region, such as the air control center at the Prince Sultan Air Base?

Senior Official: The answer is, all the -- (off mike) -- component commanders and facilities that we work with -- (off mike) -- Tampa that we speak to several times a week on video teleconferences and other -- (off mike) -- will be utilized, yes. I know of no facility that will not be involved in Internal Look that is involved now.

Q: Yeah. It's Tom Bowman with the Baltimore Sun. I wanted to follow up a little bit on the bin Sultan [Prince Sultan Air Base] air facility that's being used or could be used in the event of a war with Iraq. If you do use that facility at bin Sultan, would you still need the modular facilities at Qatar? Would they be used in conjunction with each other?

Senior Official: I don't think we want to get into questions like that on this call. I want to focus on just the mechanics of this exercise. That's more of a decision for-above my paygrade.

Q: But in other words, the facilities at Qatar would replicate what you have at Saudi, is that true?

Senior Official: No, that's not true. They complement the facilities, but not replicate them.

Q: Okay, fine.

Senior Official: If there are no other questions, like I said, feel free to call us offline one on one. If you go to our website, like I said, there are a lot of photos there. And we will be going over, leaving in the next day or so.

Maybe you want to give the public affairs number over there so everyone has it.

Q: Yeah, I have one more question.

Senior Official: Okay, go ahead while they're getting the number.

Q: My name is Carl Osgood. I work for Executive Intelligence Review. Can you talk about to what degree that this deployable headquarters and the staff that you're deploying with it incorporates some of the transformational conceptions that were tested, for example, in the Millennium Challenge Exercise?

Senior Official: Qatar, do you want to speak to that?

Senior Official: Yeah, let me talk a little bit about that. Actually, that's a very good question. We are leveraging state-of-the-art technology, communication -- (audio break from source) -- all that stuff, much of which was explored during Millennium Challenge. We have been able to leverage those efforts by Joint Forces Command and incorporate not only the technology, but also the procedures for staff officers to utilize that technology. So -- (audio break from source).

Q: This is Charles -- (name inaudible) -- with the Saudi Press Agency. I have one more quick question. How hard are you guys going to push your satellite bandwidth?

Senior Official: I can't answer that. I don't know the answer to that.

Q: Okay.

Senior Official: I do know that we utilize an extensive amount just basically communication requirements, but it's not overtaxing it.

Q: Hey, this is Charlie Aldinger from Pentagon one more time. If you won't tell us what countries are involved, could you at least tell us how many countries are going to be involved?

Senior Official: I don't have that list. I need to talk to our folks. If you want to call me, I'll find it.

Q: Okay. Hold on just a second. Hold on, one more.

Senior Official: Hey, while we're waiting, Charlie, I have the phone number-

Q: This is Hunter Keeter from Defense Daily. I have a question to follow up what your folks in Qatar had mentioned about Joint Forces Command and Millennium Challenge. Can you give us a little bit more detail on how what you and Raytheon have constructed for this deployable Joint Force Headquarters will be interoperable with the stuff the Joint Forces Command is working on in Suffolk now, and that the Navy is working on to develop deployable command and control for Joint Task Force Operations in the future.

Senior Official: I will tell you that, for the most part, it is completely interoperable. Like I said, we leveraged some of the technology that was proofed, if you will. Some of the technology in Millennium Challenge was still-not quite experimental, but-not quite ready for prime time, but some of the technology was, and we've been able to leverage that.

And as we move into transformation, it is all about interoperability because we are a joint war-fighting force, and our technology-we have taken great pains to ensure that new technology, as we evolve, can talk to all the services. So that's one of the key enablers that we have in this deployable headquarters.

Q: This is Jim Mannion from AFP again. There was a couple of questions on-is there a cost associated with the cost of the exercise? And also, the cost of the command center?

Senior Official: Here in Tampa, I don't have a cost estimate. I will try to get that for you. Call me offline. I don't have that number in front of me; sorry about that.

Q: Not even for the command center?

Senior Official: I just don't have it in front of me. But I'll talk to our folks and see if I can get a number for you.

Q: Hey, Jim, this is Tony Capaccio with Bloomberg News here in the Pentagon. I have a question about how will State-side units or European-based units that might deploy in any contingency to the region, how will they play in this? Will they be using distributed simulations or screens in, you know, 5th Corps or the 1st Cavalry Division in Texas or in 3rd Army elements in -- (word inaudible) -- Georgia? How will they play in this?

Senior Official: Yeah, let me let Qatar speak to those individual units in operational questions.

Senior Official: Yeah, because this is what we call a computer-assisted exercise, actually command post exercise, no combat troops -- (audio break) -- it is distributed in that we provide to command centers common operating pictures depicted in graphical formats overlaid with maps with digital tracking of various forces, ground forces, air forces, naval forces, concurrent with the standard communications drill. There will be radio, e-mail, secure message traffic to gain and maintain situational awareness, assess the situation and effects, and then make our battle plans about whatever event that we're investigating at the time. So yes, it is distributed down to the headquarters, but your situational awareness is portrayed via several mediums: Audio, visual, as well as text message.

Q: Hi, this is Eric (sp) (Westerfeld ?), National Public Radio. Two questions. First one, Secretary Rumsfeld is traveling to the area. What role, if any, will he play? Will he just observe? Or will he stay out of your hair?

And secondly, can you give a phone number for-in Qatar?

Senior Official: Here in Tampa, I'll take the Secretary Rumsfeld question. We obviously allow the secretary and staff to announce his travel. I won't get into that-and his schedule.

In terms of the number, Qatar, do you want to give that public affairs number?

Senior Official: I've got that phone number here. I'm not sure what the prefix is for overseas calls, but the number is 974-460- 9869, and then you'll get a prompt to call a number, and that will be extension 432-7249.

Q: Can you just repeat that to make sure we got it right?

Senior Official: Yes, 974-460-9869, and then the prompt, extension 432-7249.

Senior Official: Well, thank you. If you have any questions, call us in Tampa or Qatar. And I appreciate our senior planning official and our officials in Qatar for participating in this. It's been very helpful. And let us know if you have any questions.

Thank you.

Q: If you have time for one more question, this is Doug Hamilton from Reuters in Qatar. I'd like to know about the scenarios and the contingencies in the scenarios. Do they involve political developments? Do they involve urban warfare? Are there surprises planned for the exercise?

Senior Official: Let me answer that here in Tampa. Again, the scenarios will be classified. We don't get into those kinds of questions. Those are operational issues that we're just not going to discuss. Apologize for that.

Thank you, everyone.

Q: Thank you.

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