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Innovation Cuts Through 'Crust and Rust,' Vice Chairman Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2005 – Change and innovation are a necessary part of the military culture, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Nov. 22.

"Sometimes there is a lot of crust and rust and an inability to move as rapidly as necessary," said Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani. "That's why we have to work on the culture (of transformation) constantly. We always must think of what needs to happen next. It's an unending process."

Since taking office in August, the admiral has been working night and day on the Quadrennial Defense Review. The review is a congressionally mandated report the Defense Department undertakes every four years to look at defense strategy, force modernization, infrastructure needs and other aspects of the defense program.

In an American Forces Press Service interview, Giambastiani said the QDR will be submitted to Congress in February, along with the president's defense budget request. Until now, defense officials have submitted the QDR to Congress in September.

The new QDR date will allow Pentagon planners to start working on program execution sooner. "This is how you become the bulldog on the bureaucracy's ankle," Giambastiani said. "You grab it and keep chewing on it and make sure there is pressure on the system to institute what you just said you would do."

With the emphasis today on transformation of the military, the QDR will not be a huge course-changing document for the department. Rather, it will examine the relations among all aspects of strategy and resources and determine if they are in sync, Giambastiani said.

From lessons learned in combat to reviews of acquisition programs, the Defense Department routinely examines itself and proposes changes as needed. Still, it is a good process to examine the course of the institution, he said.

"If you only do this every four years, you are making a big mistake for your institution," the admiral said. "You ought to be living, breathing and working on this every day."

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, said Giambastiani's job as vice chairman "will be the business of business."

"What he means by that is that although I've been an operational commander for a substantial part of my career, I've also spent a substantial time on the business side," the admiral said. "It helps me in the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. It helps me with the Defense Acquisition Board, and it helps me as we work through the Quadrennial Defense Review."

Before becoming vice chairman, Giambastiani commanded Joint Forces Command and was NATO's supreme allied commander for transformation. He said that being a combatant commander gave him an appreciation of the "customer side" of the business. Being the man responsible for transforming the military "gave me an appreciation for how to approach the business," he said.

The QDR is not just an "inside-the-beltway" exercise, he said. "There's a lot of substance in this. You can have all the strategies in the world, but if you can't execute on a day-to-day basis - how we do acquisition, how we resource projects, how we generate requirements and how we bring those processes together in a executable way - you are going to be unsuccessful."

Defense officials also must work to maintain a balance of resources and risks, the admiral said. The overall challenge, he said, boils down to a single question: "How do you bring all of these aspects together in a way where you can produce for the American people and for our national security the best product possible, within the taxpayer dollars we are given?"

Contact Author

Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, USN

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