United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

DoD News

Bookmark and Share

 News Article

Making Sense of Transformation

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 21, 2001 – The U.S. military must transform to meet the threats of the 21st century. So how does that happen?

Transformation needs a destination. The president and his advisers set the National Security Strategy. From this comes the National Military Strategy. These documents detail the threats facing the United States and what the military should do to combat them.

The last revision of these documents was in 1995. Now there are new threats. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the United States must be prepared to defend against asymmetric threats such as terrorism, cyberattacks, rogue states firing missiles tipped with weapons of mass destruction, and so on.

These threats demand changes in the U.S. military.

The people at the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., are working these transformation issues.

Dave Ozolek is the deputy director of the Joint Futures Lab at the Joint Experimentation Directorate at the command. He said there are six elements the U.S. military must consider during the transformation process.

"In transformation, you have to have foresight," Ozolek said. "You have to have the ability to look far enough into the future that you can imagine a brighter future." DoD must define the threats and detail the steps needed to combat them.

The second element needed is depth in the perception of the threat. "You have to see the issues in sufficient detail that you understand the implications of the consequences of the change that you're contemplating," Ozolek said.

"In addition, you need a worldview," he continued. "You have to imagine how things are changing around you in a greater sphere than just your local community." But even with a worldview, planners still must maintain contacts with those around them. Changes made in one area will affect others, and lines of communication must remain open.

While foresight is important, so is hindsight, Ozolek said. "You have to be able to consider the cultural imperatives that got you where you are today, because you can't really walk away from them," he said.

Finally, transformation requires flexibility. "The farther out you look in the future, the less certain things are, so therefore perhaps the bolder or the greater are your assumptions," he said. "And so you have to have the capability to confirm or deny your assumptions as you continue to move forth."

But it takes objective testers to test these theories and prove these assumptions. Someone has to develop scenarios and put the ideas through their paces. Someone also has to take the transformation ideas the military services are generating and see how they fit together.

"This way, the department can make objective, informed decisions based on the outcome of evidence," Ozolek said, "as opposed to a consensus-building approach, and a compromise approach that's kind of characterized the Department of Defense for the last 54 years."

Gaining this objective, substantiated data is the job of the experimentation directorate. Planners there use a combination of actual exercises and computer simulations to test various strategies and theories. The directorate also integrates all transformation work the services accomplish.

The main test bed is the Challenge series of experiments. The first, held last year and called Millennium Challenge, focused on how the U.S. military takes the current set up of the services -- personnel, equipment, logistics, technology -- and changes it for different missions. "We were not looking at future systems," said Jack Klevecz, chief of the Futures Alliance Department at the directorate. "We were looking at how to take the stuff we have today and use it more effectively. Our focus was primarily in the realms of doctrine and organization."

All the services participated in Millennium Challenge, and it ran from boots on the ground to electrons on screens. Some exercises were in North Carolina and others were only real on a computer screen. Another experiment will take place next year.

"We want to pull forward what we learned about doctrine and organization and then begin to look at the tough decisions we'll have to make in terms of equipment, facilities, bases and how we change our training and leadership development institutions," Klevecz said. "We will work with an eye on what we need to do in the second half of this decade to really develop the force that we need to conduct rapid decisive operations in the next decade."

Rapid decisive operations is the tactical representation of how the U.S. military wants to work in the years ahead. Essentially, it means get to a trouble spot with enough of the right capabilities, fast enough to make a difference. The mere appearance of such a force may be enough to stabilize a situation, DoD officials said. But if force is necessary, the joint task force would be able to deliver it.

Building this force and experimenting with the configuration of such a tactical concept is the main business of the Joint Experimentation Directorate today. Officials are working with the service battle labs to make the transformation. Klevecz coordinates the work of the 24 battle labs and two integration offices involved in the effort.

The labs are staffed with experts from across the service. "In the Army you'll have a signal officer, and you'll have an infantry officer, and an armor officer working on a problem," Klevecz said. "And in the Air Force, you might have navigators and pilots, and the pilots are strike and lift. And you'll have a weather officer. So you'll have a variety of skills.

"The solutions they are after are not just materiel solutions," he continued. "They'll look at, 'OK, what are the organizational changes that have to go in? What are the organizational impacts of fighting the way we want to fight or prosecuting the war in these effects-based operations? What new pieces of equipment? What manners of fighting? What are the doctrinal implications? What are the organizational implications? What are the training implications? What are the leadership implications?"

Service battle labs are small -- about 25 people each -- and work at the direction of their service chief.

"They generally are all designed as multifunctional organizations that are centered around an enduring warfighting principle," Klevecz said. For example, the Army battle lab at Fort Gordon, Ga., deals with the electronic systems. A lab at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., studies intelligence gathering. The Battle Command Battle Lab at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., takes their input and tests command and control of the operating systems.

The experts at Joint Forces Command would look at the results of this effort and see how they fit into the overall DoD transformation. JFCOM officials would see how various service systems work together and ensure they are interoperable. The Futures Alliance also serves as a clearinghouse for information. This alliance of all service battle labs volunteers to study a concept together.

"We'll gather them about every three or four months," Klevecz said. "We've created an open environment to debate the issues of the joint experimentation."

The Futures Alliance also creates opportunities for the various battle labs to identify problems and team up to solve them. "For example, there is currently an experiment that the Air Force's Force Protection Battle Lab is working with the Army's Maneuver Support Battle Lab," Klevecz said. "They're working an issue of protection of fixed-site facilities."

In another arrangement, the Air Force Space Battle Lab is working with the Army's Air Mobility Battle Lab, and the Army's Air and Missile Defense Battle Lab. "They're all working space issues: theatre ballistic missiles and missile defense issues," he said. "All these things, they have orchestrated themselves."

Right now, the Futures Alliance is principally devoted to information exchange. JFCOM officials are putting together an information-sharing network. "(The battle labs) can post whatever they want … and everybody would have open access to shared information," Klevecz said.

In addition to the service interaction at the lab level, Joint Forces Command has people working on science and technology solutions.

"We're working with research development engineering centers, working with commercial research and development and working with academic centers of excellence" Klevecz said. "I've got also our people working with all of the commanders in chief, both regional and functional, around the world, and our multinational partners."

Contact Author

Related Sites:
Transformation Study
Transformation Study executive summary

Additional Links

Stay Connected