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Transforming Training Not Easy, Officials Tell House Committee

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2004 – Transforming the military's joint training capabilities sounds simple, but the task is not easy, Pentagon officials told the House Armed Services Committee here March 18.

"This basic principle of training as we intend to fight, sounds simple and it is a great bumper sticker but this is exceedingly difficult," Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Readiness Paul Mayberry said.

Mayberry, accompanied by Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Gordon C. Nash, appeared this week before two congressional subcommittees, and testified the Defense Department is making progress in the way the services train and fight. Nash is U.S. Joint Forces Command's director of joint training and commands the Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Va.

The Subcommittee on Readiness and the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities are looking into transformation efforts to better enable joint operations in DoD, as well as efforts to develop a joint national training capability.

In early 2002, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pushed the services to transform the way they train for war, noting, "Wars and the conflicts of the 21st century will not be fought by individual services. Rather, they will be fought by joint forces, and more often than not, by combined forces." The Pentagon uses the term "joint" to refer to operations involving more than one service. "Combined" operations involve more than one country's forces.

"Therefore, we will have to think, train and exercise jointly and combined, because let there be no doubt, that is the way that we will fight," the secretary said.

Mayberry told the committee that the joint national training capability is no longer a dream, and that a recent exercise in January was deemed "very successful." The exercise, he said, involved real forces, supplemented by helicopter and Special Forces simulators, "all within a common operating picture." It linked together 16 locations and provided realistic joint tactical and operational level training. "It was a great start," Mayberry said. He told the committee that three other such events are scheduled for this fiscal year.

Other plans include deployment of the capability to overseas venues, with the target being to attain full operational capability by 2009.

"We have the vision for transforming training in the Department of Defense to better enable joint operations," he said. "Our senior leadership has been explicit, unequivocal, and (has) demanded change sooner rather than later."

Nash told the committee that joint forces win wars, and that the joint national training capability has improved the ability of U.S. forces to fight more effectively as a joint team by extending joint training to a much broader audience.

The general said that in the past two decades, the armed forces progressively have developed the concepts and culture needed to conduct joint operations, and has seen "extraordinary joint successes" in the field.

Those successes, he said, often were accomplished through ad hoc innovations, enabled by what he called superb tactical competence of military forces and outstanding military leaders at all levels of command.

Nash said joint military endeavors such as Operation Just Cause, Operation Urgent Fury and Operation Desert Storm led to successes in significantly more complex joint operations such as Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Meanwhile, Mayberry said, the conditions of war have made it imperative that the United States transforms its training. Today's world is complex, filled with uncertainty and surprise, he added.

"We no longer fight against known enemies with standing armies, but (rather against) often-faceless networks of terrorists," he said. "These adversaries fight asymmetrically, focused on exploiting our weaknesses, and are agile enough to change tactics rapidly based on our responses."

Mayberry said the armed forces must be responsible for the full spectrum of military operations ranging from the extremes of major combat operations to humanitarian assistance and in some cases, combining those extremes in the same deployment.

Nash told the committee military planning that once was deliberate, based on a known threat, must now be adaptive, to respond to enemy capabilities that are highly adaptable and often unconventional. He said fighting forces must be "lean and packaged" to move quickly to the area of operations and strike with the right composition of forces and firepower.

"The new realities of asymmetric military threats call for a significant change in all aspects of military planning, organization, basing, deployment, and fighting," he said.

Mayberry told the committee that the global war on terror has only strengthened the Pentagon's resolve.

"Our goal is to focus on enhancing and measuring joint performance and capabilities," he said. "Our ability to train and educate must focus on the ultimate customer the combatant commander -- and provide an adaptability that can quickly turn to new or emerging requirements."

Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Readiness Paul Mayberry
Maj. Gen. Gordon C. Nash

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Related Sites:
Defense Department Transformation
U.S. Joint Forces Command
JFCOM Joint Training Directorate and Joint Warfighting Center
House Armed Services Committee

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