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Cebrowski Sketches the Face of Transformation

By Paul Stone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2003 – If you want to see the face of transformation if you want to see what it looks like in action you need not look any further than Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

That's the view from the top by Retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, chief of the Defense Department's Office of Force Transformation and one of the department's chief architects in the effort to transform the military.

During a recent interview, Cebrowski said several elements of OEF and OIF were both representative of transformation and historic. He cited speed of operations as an example speed of planning; speed of decision making; speed of physical movement; and speed with which physical barriers were overcome, particularly in the mountains of Afghanistan.

"The war in Afghanistan was one for which we had not planned never had an intention of going there with a military force," he explained. "But the flexibility and adaptability of the military made it possible less than a month after the attacks of Sept. 11. That itself is a story of transformation.

"Indeed, not too many years ago, we could not have planned such a campaign so quickly and executed it so expeditiously," he continued. "The high-speed collaborative planning, the high-speed team building, and the quickly pulling together of diverse forces and capabilities is a property of an information-age force. So you can see it (transformation); you can see it right there in front of you."

Transformation was also evident in OEF in the ways forces operated, Cebrowski pointed out. "The Marine Corps, which historically has been used as an amphibious landing force, probably never thought it would have a force that large operating 400 miles inland, he said.

"And who would have guessed prior to Sept. 11 that that in the middle of Afghanistan we would have special operations soldiers linking with a Navy F- 14, or linking with a B-52 to pursue a target," he said. "This is representative of the expanding joint thrust of the department's transformation efforts. We're creating a more dynamic, more adaptive, higher-speed team that's built on the collective capabilities of all the participants, which is a true cultural change."

Cebrowski said the initial, major combat operations of OIF painted an even more dramatic portrait of transformation.

The initial phase of OEF, which he described as 28 days of very complex, very high-speed operations that defied all experience of history, said it "indicated the way not just modern technology is taking hold, but more importantly, how information-age doctrine and organization are taking hold."

As an example, he pointed out that when OEF began, three different forms of operations were being conducted simultaneously. In western Iraq, significant elements of Special Forces and Air Force elements were conducting their own brand of operations. In the north, there was more of what he said was "an economy of force type of operation," in which there was operational maneuvering from strategic distances and support from the sea. And from the south, there was a "very dramatic, high-speed thrust that might have been called blitzkrieg Mach 4."

"We saw new levels of integration between the air, naval and land forces levels of jointness we had never seen before," Cebrowski said. "And that revealed an interesting aspect of transformation. There are many who thought that when you went to war, or during a high-level optempo, that transformation had to be put on hold. Instead, what we saw was that the high-tempo operations created a very fertile environment for transformation."

He said some of this proof of transformation was evident to both those directly involved in OEF and the American public, who were able to see much of the initial campaign on television. But he emphasized that some transformation efforts were not so visible or easily recognizable.

He cited the March 19 attack against Iraq's top leadership as an example.

"We thought we had a good location on Saddam Hussein and we wanted to put some ordnance on that place right away, and we were able to do so in a matter of minutes," Cebrowski said. "Oh yes, you could see the results of such an attack afterwards, but the real excitement was the rapid intelligence gathering, network structure and high-speed decision making that went into that. Television viewers couldn't see that. But there were a lot of people involved, and that's representative of how the force operates today."

Another example he cited was integration of a high-speed transport vessel dubbed "Joint Venture." Two of the vessels were used in Kuwait: one supporting Navy special operations forces and the other supporting Army logistics. Joint Venture is a 300-plus-foot, Australian-built, experimental transport ship modified for military use that can carry almost 400 troops and crew at speeds of up to 40 knots. This is in stark comparison to the transport vessels the Army has used for 50 years to support ground combat operations, traveling at top speeds of 9 to 10 knots. Joint Venture also can transport 30 to 40 Stryker fighting vehicles 600 or more miles, or Black Hawk helicopters, or a wide-range of other equipment.

"This was an example of experimenting with a completely different kind of ship that resulted in a stunning performance at quite a low cost," Cebrowski said. "And once again, it's an example of transformation in the middle of an operation that most people didn't get to see."

Cebrowski said those involved in OEF and OIF have done a superb job of demonstrating to the entire world what their ingenuity and adaptability can do when given transformational technologies and equipment to work with.

"By seizing the transformation opportunities, we are seizing the opportunity to create our own future," he said. "So this is a very exciting time to be in the operating forces."

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