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Joint Chiefs Chairman Takes Transformation Message to Industry Forum

By Gene Harper
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2003 – Air Force Gen. Richard Myers hammered away at the "T" theme via video teleconference to a San Diego industry meeting this week.

The "T" word was "transformation," which "must be more than a bumper sticker," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the throng at the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association conference Jan. 14.

The chairman said transformation is an "ongoing process that we've been engaged in for many, many years, and we'll be engaged in (it) as long as we're trying to improve the way we can impact the battlespace."

"Pursuing transformation means adopting an attitude that seeks to apply our capabilities to accomplish the assigned mission," Myers said. "Transformation is about creating joint competencies from the separate service capabilities.

"The bottom line is that it's about having a dramatically better joint team, one that's certainly adaptable and flexible and can master unexpected challenges in the very dynamic environment that we find ourselves in today. We can speculate that this environment will go on for some time to come."

Myers pointed out that transformation has three key parts: intellectual, cultural and technological.

The intellectual refers to the warfighters' mindset: "People must have the mental agility to match their capabilities to new and unprecedented missions and not force the mission to match their capability," he said.

He used the Afghanistan operation as an example where the commander is using the Navy's P-3 Orion long-range, anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft to help ground troops find enemy positions.

"It's a novel way to use these capabilities, and they're helping us pinpoint enemy troops in rugged terrain and doing a very good job of it. That's not easy," Myers noted. "But it would be a lot harder without our warfighters having that flexible attitude and being willing to reach out and think about solutions that aren't standard or in the doctrine book."

Transformation also has an equally important cultural element, the Joint Chiefs chairman said -- one that rewards risk taking. "Our people must act in ways that fulfill the commander's intent, but also at the same time using their own judgment," Myers contended. "This requires an attitude that values educated risk taking and cooperation that spans organizations and different agencies."

Then there's the technology piece. Myers mentioned how the communications and electronics communities teamed up in World War II to create basic radar, then radar systems where air defense personnel could vector aircraft to intercept Nazi bombers. This alliance also produced the P-61 Black Widow, the first radar-equipped U.S. fighter aircraft specifically designed to locate and attack enemy aircraft at night during that war.

"Today, of course, we own the night," Myers said. "Radars, night-vision goggles and other great tools are part of our normal operation. But advances in night operations took more than new equipment, of course. New technology helped. But it was changes in doctrine, in our organization, in training, in logistics that made the real difference. And we should never forget that it was forward-thinking individuals in the military and industry that made all this happen."

He said his examples show "what we've done in the past and they don't mean we can quit or be satisfied, that's for sure. We've got a lot of work to do."

One area to improve is better information sharing among warfighters and components, Myers emphasized. "Information sharing allows transparency in both planning and execution, which I think are vital to the ability to integrate our functions," he said. "It allows us to have a common information suite that enables everyone to have a faster decision cycle so we can observe, decide, act and assess faster than our enemy."

Again, Myers used a real-world example from his December visit to Afghanistan and the Middle East, where he had a chance to see the common picture in operation.

He observed soldiers use a "clear-for-fire matrix" that rules out enemy fire accurately in a matter of minutes. "Imagine trying to do all of this with field telephones," Myers said.

"Just a year ago, the ground commander in Afghanistan relied on maps and acetate for his situational awareness. He's got the technology at his fingertips to provide the rapid flow of information with his commanders and to his counterparts theaterwide.

"In Kuwait, the theater ground force commander has a command-and- control suite that is comparable to what the air-component commander has at Prince Sultan Air Base (in Saudi Arabia)," Myers said. "This is a big leap forward for the ground component. What I saw last month was our joint team building a web, if you will, of shared information.

He pictured data from multiple, multi-service manned and unmanned aircraft added to ground and space intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to produce shared information for faster decisions. "Each of these pieces adds to a web of information that builds this common picture from which we can operate and which we can integrate our forces much better," Myers said.

"And equally compelling, I think, is that shared information allows components to build trust and confidence that is so essential in today's warfare," he continued. "I'm talking about trust and confidence between the joint force commander and his air and land and maritime and so forth -- all his components.

"If they have a common picture of the battlefield, they're able to share information, then they're much more likely to have trust and confidence in each other's ability to fill the gaps and seams that are going to occur in the battlespace."

Myers called upon defense industries to ensure that "what you develop fits our warfighters' needs." He talked about a "joint operational concept" to define "how we will accomplish our tasks in the national security strategy and realize the force we want to become with our joint vision."

"If we do this right," Myers said, "we'll be able to assess new capabilities the services will bring to the joint fight in terms of how they support the joint warfighters' needs.

"Those operators will definitely be your best allies if you're working in industry trying to help find solutions."

Myers concluded by saying that "transformation isn't just about words, nor is it necessarily about actions. What it's really all about is results." He said that joint warfighters are "really counting on us to make sure we give them the tools to do the job. Let's be fair to critics of programs and move from short-term innovations to real living transformation."

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