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Senior Officers Report Services' Progress in Transformation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2002 – The most important aspect of defense transformation is encouraging the mindset in personnel that change is an opportunity, not a threat, uniformed service chiefs agreed here recently.

"Cultivating that mindset is the role of leadership," said Gen. James Jones, Marine Corps commandant. He, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane, and Adm. William Fallon, vice chief of naval operations, appeared Oct. 17 at the 33rd Fletcher Conference. They talked about their services' transformation goals and the efforts to meet them.

Jones, whose service co-sponsored the annual conference, credited Shinseki with applying transformation to the military. He said he adopted Shinseki's view of transformation to the Marine Corps.

He said transformation is both evolutionary and revolutionary. "I think transformation is one of two things," he said. "(It is either) something completely new that enables you to do something you couldn't do before, ... or a change that allows us to do something exponentially better."

He said taking a regular gravity bomb and making it a smart bomb is transformation. New operational concepts can be transformational, he said. New technologies can be transformational, and he specifically cited the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft as an example. But in their rush to transform, Jones cautioned, the services should not lose sight of each other's unique cultures.

"I believe that young people join the Marines Corps, ... to be United States Marines, not to be a member of the Joint Forces Land Component Commander forces," he said. In transforming the military, he continued, it is important not to damage what makes each service attractive and unique.

Jones also spoke about the need to reform military acquisition programs, but Jumper arguably had the best example of the need.

"The Air Force will start with a new way of doing business," Jumper said. "We're going to start with the concept of operations that describes in some detail how we plan to fight and how we plan to integrate with other services, coalitions and allies before we decide to buy (equipment)."

Jumper recalled his experiences with Predator unmanned aerial vehicles while commander of Operation Allied Force in Kosovo in 1999. The Predator was being tested at the time, he said. Officials found that operators could locate targets, but had a tough time passing the information to the pilots with the bombs.

"We decided to put a laser designator on the Predator," he said. "This is acquisition at its best. They pinched wires together and, in two weeks, we had a laser designator on the Predator back over Kosovo."

But then the operation ended and the old acquisition system took over, Jumper said. When Jumper was reassigned as the commander of Air Combat Command, he asked to see the laser- equipped Predator. He said he was told the program had been "disassembled" because it was "not in the program."

It was an example, he said, of the acquisition community "going into its risk-averse mode."

"I told them it's going back in the program right now, and while we're at it, let's put some Hellfires on (the Predator) and see if we can shoot Hellfires off this thing," Jumper recalled saying.

He said officials told him it would take $15 million and years of effort to get the aircraft so equipped. He told them they had three months and $3 million, and that he would take the responsibility. Once officials heard that, they did it, Jumper said.

He said the acquisition process is driven by a "program" mindset. He said warfighters and senior leaders must do more "to meld those programs to perhaps give us the best leverage on the battlefield."

Keane expressed his confidence in the services' transformation. "We've done it before," he said, pointing out the Army Staff had only 19 officers on the eve of World War I.

Today, he remarked, "I can't have a meeting without 19 generals being present."

Before the war started, the Army had no divisions, Keane said. "One year and nine months later, we formed 62 divisions -- organized them, trained them, equipped them -- and deployed 43 of them to France," he added. "(It was) a remarkable transformation in every sense of the word."

In World War II, a horse-drawn, on-foot Army transformed into a potent mechanized and armored fighting force able to mount the largest amphibious operation in history.

The Army during the Vietnam War transformed yet again. From a force prepared to fight in a temperate Europe, it became one capable of waging counterinsurgency operations in Southeast Asian jungles.

Keane said Shinseki and he came to their jobs three years ago. "We were faced with a national military strategy that did not meet the resources that we had, and ... did not meet what we believed was the appropriate force design and capabilities of the United States Army," he said.

He said the Army strategy throughout the 20th century was to build up forces outside enemy territory and then move in, consolidating gains along the way. "The purpose was to seize terrain, overmatch adversaries and control populations," he said.

It would take weeks or months to build up forces.

In the 21st century, the Army can change because of the explosion of technology that is taking place. "We have unparalleled situational awareness to understand what an enemy is doing," Keane said. "In a sense, we have an unblinking eye over the enemy formation."

This capability is unprecedented and offers the Army major advantages, he said. By knowing more about the battlefield the enemy, commanders can change their troop formations, strategy and tactics and fight the enemy at times and places of the Army's choosing, not the enemy's.

Rather than take and hold all territory, Army units would use their situational awareness to strike airfields, enemy formations, lines of communications, logistics centers and other critical objectives. "What's different is we want to go to these objectives as near simultaneous as we can with a premium on vertical envelopment," Keane said.

The Army will also change the way soldiers deploy. Army planners want forces to arrive at hot spots faster. To facilitate this, the Army wants everything to fit in a C- 130. "If it doesn't fit in a C-130, we don't want it," the general said. The service wants to reduce its logistics chain by 50 percent.

Finally, the Army is looking to rotate units to areas like the Marines and Navy already do.

Fallon said the Navy is looking at personnel issues, too. He said all ships would have smaller crews. Another initiative will break a Navy paradigm of one ship-one crew. Instead, crews will swap out on surface ships just as they currently do with nuclear ballistic-missile submarines. He said it makes no sense to wear out a crew by spending three weeks steaming to an area of operations. Better to fly the crew to the ship and swap.

Fallon said the Navy's reading of transformation is pushing the service to rethinking its platform-centered organization -- ships, planes and submarines -- to one that emphasizes capabilities.

All told, he said, service transformation is moving toward a truly joint force, and Operation Enduring Freedom is the proof. "Every story from that area was about joint forces in action," he said.

Keane agreed. He said the military is moving away from simply separating -- "deconflicting" -- U.S. forces on the field. That is, he explained, where the Marines take the right flank and the Army the center and left, as happened in Operation Desert Storm. Instead, he noted, the two services are "truly beginning to integrate our operations."

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