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Admiral Expands on Iraqi Freedom Lessons Learned

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2003 – Capabilities to enhance joint warfighting and to beef up intelligence collection, analysis and dispersion are at the top of the "lessons learned" from Operation Iraqi Freedom, the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command told the House Armed Services Committee here today.

Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani said his command placed capabilities in three categories: those that worked well, those that require improvement and those that didn't measure up.

Joint Forces Command placed people with coalition forces at many levels. These service members assessed operations, technologies, doctrines and personnel policies and reported back to the command's headquarters in Norfolk, Va. This was the first time such a large joint team participated in a lessons-learned action.

Giambastiani's testimony was not a systems analysis or assessment report. "I'm not going to provide you with how many aircraft we need or should buy, or what type of weapons platform worked better than another," he said.

It was also not a review of tactical operations. "Our focus was on the joint level of warfighting," he told the representatives.

Giambastiani told the representatives Operation Iraqi Freedom represented a "remarkable shift in the way joint forces operate." The shift is a new joint way of war that capitalizes on four key dimensions of the battlespace: knowledge, speed, precision and lethality, he said.

The coalition was able to capitalize on technologies and increased emphasis on flexible thinking to bring the services together for a new level of joint operations, Giambastiani said.

In the past, DoD officials said, it was enough to "deconflict" operations -- to have the Marines working on the right and the Army on the left, for example. This time, truly joint operations took place, and American commanders were confident enough to handle the situation, officials said.

"There is no doubt that Operations Northern Watch and Southern Watch in Iraq and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan greatly aided in improving our operational confidence in the use of command and control," Giambastiani said.

He said the experience allowed U.S. Central Command "to eliminate many of the seams that were typical of ad hoc joint task forces."

The integration of special operations forces into the main battle plan was another achievement. The admiral said that in Desert Storm, U.S. forces had 30 Special Forces operational detachment teams working on missions separate from those of the conventional force.

"In Operation Iraqi Freedom we deployed over 100 Special Forces teams, and they were closely wedded to our conventional forces and, in many cases, merging the capabilities of both land and air forces," he said. "The net result is that we not only had precision munitions launched from the air and ground, but precision decisions to direct our smart weapons."

Giambastiani said urban operations, information operations throughout the battlespace and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance are among the capabilities that need more work. He said these were good, but that he would classify them as 60-40. "They need substantial improvements," he said.

Among the capabilities that fell short was fratricide prevention. "Even one death due to fratricide is too many," the admiral said.

Deployment planning and execution needs more work, the admiral continued. "We could not provide the flexibility and adaptation demanded by late changes in planning assumptions or other modifications," he said.

Giambastiani said reserve mobilization and deployment issues need much more work. "We didn't do well by our reserves in many cases, because we gave them short notice," he said. "The challenge here is establishing the right reserve-to-active-component force mix."

He said he has been ordered by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to examine the balance, and he has sent his recommendations to Washington.

Giambastiani said the lessons-learned review was conducted with "ruthless objectivity." He said all involved did this to avoid what he called "Victor's Disease."

"This affliction arises from overconfidence and complacency born from previous military victories," he said. "One symptom of this disease is that militaries will focus on improving military capabilities to fight the last war instead of anticipating and adapting for the future, which might be wholly different, requiring new capabilities and clearly changed methods."

Finally, the admiral addressed what he called a fundamental building block of the joint force capabilities: the command and control infrastructure.

"This is often presented in our budget documents as information technologies, but they are far from that," he said. "They are central to modern warfare."

The two main components are the deployable joint command and control system and the standing joint force headquarters prototypes. "These two capabilities build on our warfighting dominance today to ensure that it continues well into the future," he said.

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