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DoD Looking to Develop Deployable Joint Command, Control

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2001 – Developing a joint command and control capability offers DoD a way to speed up responses to aggression and gives the president more options during the crisis stage of an incident, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said.

"Speed is important. That is, the ability to do things early can make a big difference," he said during an interview with the American Forces Information Service. The United States cannot afford to take six months to respond to aggression as it did when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.

"If you want an effective deterrent, and if you want the ability to -- in the event deterrence fails -- do something in a reasonable period of time, you'd best be stood up and visible before the fact," he said.

The secretary used Operation Allied Force in Kosovo as another example. "Suddenly the decision is [made that] you're going to have a coalition, you're going to conduct an air war. How do you do that?" he said. The United States, as the leader of the coalition, appointed a commander who then had to form a staff and come up with a war plan.

"If it were a standing joint task force for that purpose or for multiple purposes, before the fact, it changes not just your ability to function in a war, it changes the deterrent and it gives the president options in the 'crisis stage pre-war," he said. Presidents need those options and don't have many today, he remarked.

DoD is working to develop such a capability. The U.S. Joint Forces Command Joint Experimentation Directorate in Norfolk, Va., is testing various joint command-and-control organizations, tools and processes. The command is looking specifically at embedded deployable joint command-and- control capabilities in each of the geographic commands.

"We are evaluating the concept of one per region or one per 'CinCdom,'" said Navy Capt. Justin Sherin, chief of the directorate's information superiority working group. "We see that as something that would be extremely beneficial, because you have to be trained and ready as a joint force headquarters and to understand the theater."

A deployable joint command-and-control headquarters would understand the coalitions within the theater, the adversaries and their styles of warfare and capabilities, the people, the embassies, the other agencies involved, and the political situation, Sherin said.

The command tested this "Joint Force Headquarters" during its Unified Vision experiment in May. Planners looked at the organization, information technology and procedures such a headquarters would need to operate, Sherin said. He said the idea showed promise.

The headquarters would act as a standing core around which other elements or experts could be assigned as needed. Joint Forces Command is not testing the concept in a vacuum.

"Look at what the Air Force is writing now about the Air Operation Center as a weapon system," Sherin said. "They are after exactly the same thing: They want a trained and ready AOC so that you can fully employ the assets and understand their capabilities and limitations."

While each of the headquarters would be specific for a region or area of operations, there is enough in common that the basic structure would be the same, Sherin said. "This is not one-size-fits-all," he said. Rather, each unified command could tailor the headquarters for the specifics needed in the region.

Sherin said four elements are common. First, each headquarters would be able to convert "data into information into knowledge." With such knowledge, commanders can apply force exactly where it's needed, he said.

Second, the headquarters would be "coherently joint" and third, totally networked. "What we're after is the ability to accelerate the 'decision to action' optempo," he said.

The final element, "effects-based operations," would attack the coherence of an adversary and his will to fight as opposed to just his ability to fight, Sherin said.

Sherin said there is still debate about what form the joint headquarters would take.

One proposal would be to have a single joint headquarters that would fly off to a crisis in any part of the world. Sherin thinks having a single joint headquarters would be like having "a pro football team that has the best capabilities, but no game schedule." This concept has not been readily accepted by the regional commanders in chief, though. JFCOM is concentrating more on the embedded headquarters in each region.

The next major experiment in the concept comes next year during the command's Millennium Challenge 2002. As a key part of the experiment, the command will test the embedded headquarters concept and include a period of 24-hour-a-day operations during Millennium Challenge 2002.

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