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How People Think Fuels Transformation

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., June 23, 2004 – Changing how people think is paramount to the success of military transformation, said the director of requirements and integration for U.S. Joint Forces Command June 22.

"You can bring all the new technologies you want, but if you don't change how you think, you will not achieve transformation," Air Force Maj. Gen. Marc Rogers told military and civilian officials attending the Joint Warfare: Transformation and New Requirements conference. "It is about thinking of new ways to do things.

"We tend to think of new technologies in ways that make things we do the old way better and easier rather than thinking, 'Hey, I can do business a whole new way,'" he added. "We've got to open our minds. And one of the best ways to do this is to turn it loose in the hands of (our) NCO corps. It'll water your eyes with their ingenuity and creativity."

"If we can change the way we think about transformation, I think we'd be able to much more rapidly put new technological capabilities to work."

Charged with leading the transformation effort, Rogers said the command's area of responsibility is the future. The big picture, he continued, is to achieve a seamless, full integration of service, interagency and multinational capabilities.

"In the past we fought in a deconflicted way," said the general. "We didn't work together as well as services should. Our systems didn't work together as well.

"The way we went to war was we said, 'Army, you work here; Air Force you work here; Navy and Marines you work over here.'"

This has changed, said Rogers, who cited the march to Baghdad during Iraqi Freedom as an example of progress in the integration effort.

There is no end state for transformation, said Rogers. "There's no flip of the switch that says it's done," he added. "We want to be able to continuously evolve."

Transformation, he added, is evident in the precision and stealth capabilities as well as the ways forces have coordinated and trained jointly. "The difference now," said the general, "is the scope, scale and pace with which we're approaching transformation. We're realizing that we have to keep it in the forefront and not be wedded too much to ways we've done business in the past."

Another key for successful transformation is creating a roadmap, noted Rogers. "You should think long term," he added. "Temper the future with what is achievable in mid-term (10 years out or more) and use that to shape your roadmap."

If you look at the characteristics of a net-centric-capable force, he added, most are about what people do speed of decision, increased situational awareness, quality of decisions.

"It's about deciders throughout the battlespace not just commanders," said Rogers. "This is the heart of the matter. It's about people and how they change, how we change our processes and how we train to execute."

As the forces change, the general said it's important to make sure the troops have a chance to train. "You can link everything and make everything interoperable," he added. "You can use new technologies. But if you didn't change how you operate and train to that new way, you won't realize the full benefits of net-centric capabilities."

The bottom line, said Rogers, is transformation is about people. "If you haven't enabled those minds from the soldier in the field all the way to the commander at the top you've fallen short."

Contact Author

Maj. Gen. Marc Rogers, USAF

Related Sites:
U.S. Joint Forces Command
Joint Requirements and Integration Directorate

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