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Joint/Interagency Cooperation Needed in Terror War

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Sept. 8, 2004 – Further breaking down barriers to joint operations and increasing cooperation among all branches of the federal government are the Holy Grail of the global war on terrorism, the sea service chiefs said at a conference here Sept 7.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee and Coast Guard Commandant Tom Collins spoke at a forum sponsored by the Naval Institute and the Marine Corps Association. The forum examined the global war on terrorism and what the next steps should be.

All three men stressed the importance of joint operations. "I see the future as the three of us being shoulder to shoulder as we go into the future," Clark said.

The naval chief said the second call he made after the Sept. 11 attacks on was to the commandant of the Coast Guard. All services must focus on how to better work together to develop combat capability, he said, noting that battles of the future will be about speed, agility and precision. He also said forces must be based forward and "surgeable" meaning forces must surge to the level required when needed.

Clark also said that much warfighting today is about generating intelligence. "You just don't sit back and wait for it to come over the wire," he said. "It's a different type of world, and a commander's task is to generate and create the intelligence that will allow his forces to operate effectively."

Marine Commandant Hagee said that if the United States is going to win the war on terrorism, "we really need to talk about terrorism and all elements of national power being brought to bear."

He said the Marines are doing an excellent job in Iraq. He said their morale is high and they understand the mission in the nation. "They also understand going against a thinking enemy," he said.

The enemy will not challenge the U.S. military man to man, but it will challenge the Americans in asymmetric ways, Hagee pointed out. U.S. forces have to be more flexible and quicker than the enemy.

And what the American military has done in the country is due to joint capabilities. He said the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit now south of Baghdad has two Army battalions under its command. Army units are under command of Marines in Anbar province too, and Marine units are under Army command in other parts of the country. "No big thing," Hagee said. "Several years ago, we would have been wringing our hands and (asking if) we have the right doctrine and command and control -- that is not the case today. If it is required operationally, we do it and there is no afterthought."

Hagee said the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan highlight the need for coalition allies and he said it is important to bring coalition allies "along like we have the services."

Coast Guard Commandant Collins said his service and DoD are "intrinsically linked" because of the missions. He spoke of a "home and away" type game. The Coast Guard has a part in supporting DoD overseas "when it makes sense," he said. The service has a small force working with the Navy and coalition maritime partners in the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. That's the "away" game.

The "home" game is the Coast Guard is the lead agency for maritime security under the Department of Homeland Security. Collins said maritime security can be described with two words: Vulnerable and valuable. Valuable because 95 percent of imports to the United States arrive via ship. "Vulnerable because we do not have a positively controlled border," he said.

The Coast Guard is working with the Navy and other federal agencies to improve security and mitigate the risks of another terrorist attack.

Collins called for "jointness with a capital J." The country must realize that interagency cooperation is vital to defeating terrorism. He said there is a military side to the war, but there is also a law enforcement side, an economic side and so on.

All three men said that as they look to the future. Planners must look to increasing cooperation. "Right after 9/11 (President Bush) said we're going to keep the enemy on the run," Clark said. "In my opinion, that's going to be a requirement for the next 20 to 30 years."

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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee
Coast Guard Commandant Tom Collins

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