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Young Entrepreneurs Visit Pentagon Command Center

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2002 – About 60 business professionals, members of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization, visited the Pentagon Thursday to get a glimpse of how the military conducts business and to learn about the war against terrorism.

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A Pentagon tour guide briefs business professionals Aug. 15, 2002, in the Pentagon briefing studio. About 60 members of the Young Entrepreneurs Organization visited the military headquarters as part of the Defense Department's Defend America outreach program aimed at educating the public about the war against terrorism. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The business leaders' visit was part of the Defense Department's Defend America program. Defense officials launched the outreach initiative in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack to educate the public about the war on terrorism. Based in Alexandria, Va., YEO is a volunteer group of business professionals who are owners, founders, co-founders or controlling shareholders of companies with annual sales of $1 million.

Pete Patterson, of Houston said the group's visit gave him "a sense of how much more open the Department of Defense is than maybe the average American would think it is." The Pentagon is "a living, breathing building, 24-7," he said, "working with so many different agencies and people throughout the world."

Patterson, of Capital Recovery Group, a nationwide real estate consulting group, serves as the director of learning on the YEO's International Board. About 500 YEO members were in town for the group's annual conference, he said, and those who signed up for the Pentagon tour were especially interested in seeing how the military works.

"The inner workings of the U.S. government are much akin to a business in that you have even larger things to administrate, more people to administrate and more difficult issues," Patterson said. "As Andy Schwartz from the Houston chapter said, we have strategic initiatives in business just as the government, just as the Department of Defense does. But, obviously, when it's the Department of Defense, you're talking about people's lives."

During his first trip to the nation's capital, Schwartz said he found the Pentagon "everything it's supposed to be." He noted that his mother worked for the Defense Department for 30 years. "She was a mapmaker."

Schwartz, who runs a packaging company, said he was impressed with how so much operational information is driven up and down the military chain. "It's amazing how much comes through and how organized it is and how everybody knows their orders," he said.

The message Schwartz said he'd take away from his Pentagon visit is that the war on terrorism is going to be a long one. "It's going to be a long drawn out fight and as a civilian, (I'll) try to support it as long as possible because it's a well-fought campaign."

Rear Adm. Dave Gove, a deputy director of operations on the Joint Staff, welcomed the YEO members to the National Military Command Center. The submariner explained that military officials at the command center are on watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they communicate with U.S. combatant commanders, the military services, as well as ships and aircraft worldwide.

In response to a question about the "joint" service staff made up of soldiers, sailor, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard, Gove said the 1,200 people who work on the Joint Staff "leave service baggage at the door" and work together as one team.

Following Gove's opening remarks, Marine Corps Maj. Michael McCarthy, a Joint Staff operations officer, briefed the group on the command center's mission. He said the NMCC, as it's known, is the communications hub for the military.

The command center gives the Joint Chiefs of Staff "the means for making accurate and timely decisions, including the communications required for rapid and reliable transmissions of those decisions to all U.S. military forces," McCarthy said. Center officials have three main missions: worldwide monitoring, crisis response and strategic watch.

When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, McCarthy noted, 30 to 60 crisis action officers focused on the attack, while the rest continued the mission of monitoring the globe. Gove said he was in the building on the day of the attack. "The outpouring of support from community as well as business leaders was incredible," he said. "It really helped mitigate the effects of the attack."

Rear Adm. Craig Quigley, who spent eight months at U.S. Central Command Headquarters in Tampa, Fla., as Army Gen. Tommy Franks' director of public affairs, then gave the group an update on the global war on terror.

Targeting the bottom-line interest of his business-oriented audience, the admiral noted that terrorism has had a huge financial impact on America. The Sept. 11 attack resulted in "a $1 trillion loss to our economy."

The terrorist threat reaches far beyond America's shores, he said. "Every legitimate country in the world is at risk of being attacked by terrorists," he stressed. Many nations have taken steps to counter terrorism in their homelands, including Yemen, the Philippines and the Republic of Georgia. These three nations asked for U.S. help and got it, the admiral said.

Quigley said that the nation is involved in a very unconventional war without traditional opposing forces. "This is an enemy that fights in the shadows and hates everything about us," he said.

U.S. and coalition forces are making good progress in the fight, he added, but there is much more work to be done. "We've removed the (Taliban) government in Afghanistan and damaged the al Qaeda," Quigley said. He noted that representatives from 37 coalition nations work in an "ocean of doublewides" in a parking lot at Central Command's headquarters.

More effort is needed to restore and maintain stability in Afghanistan, he said, where some warlords remain reluctant to surrender power to the central government.

"Afghanistan has no infrastructure," Quigley said. The government "is starting from scratch." Hamid Karzai's interim government must now provide law enforcement, establish a judicial system and carry out civil works.

At the same time U.S. forces are hunting for remaining Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, defense officials are also focusing on transformation, he said. The U.S. armed forces must transform "to respond to the threats and implications of terror on a global scale."

The military's old systems and structures, based on 50 years of Cold War, "don't fit anymore," Quigley said. As operations in Afghanistan have shown, future challenges call for more reliance on special operations forces.

The classic example, he said, was a U. S. Special Forces soldier riding horseback with a satellite telephone in his hand, talking to Vietnam era bombers dropping precision munitions.

The USS Kitty Hawk was another example, he said. The aircraft carrier's 4-acre flight deck was cleared of aircraft and used as a floating base for special operations forces.

President Bush has no intention of waiting for terrorists to strike again, the admiral stressed. Bush intends to continue seeking them out and taking the fight to wherever they hide. He wants to get them before they use weapons of mass destruction.

When Quigley took questions, the group was ready. "Are resources being stretched too thin?" one businessman asked, and the admiral acknowledged that the military does have some high-demand, low-density systems such as airborne tankers and Patriot missile batteries. There's a greater demand for these resources than military officials can fill, he said.

"We must be mindful that we don't wear out people or equipment," Quigley said.

"How much does the public know compared to what you know," another businessman asked. Quigley replied that the war in Afghanistan was "probably the most transparent war America has ever fought."

"We owe it to the American people to tell them as much as we can as long as we don't compromise our troops' safety," the admiral said.


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