United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Special Briefing on Force Transformation

Presenters: Arthur K. Cebrowski, Director, Force Transformation
November 27, 2001 2:30 PM EDT

Tuesday, November 27, 2001 - 2:30 p.m. EST

(Special briefing on force transformation. Also participating was Victoria Clarke, ASD PA)

Clarke: Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to get started, here.

As you know, the Quadrennial Defense Review directs the establishment of the Office of Force Transformation, and today we are going to get a briefing from the new director of that office, retired Navy Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski. Many of you know him; he knows many of you. He brings a distinguished record of broad military experience and strong credentials in joint operations and information technology. Many of you may also know him from his years as the innovative president of the Naval War College.

He will report directly to the secretary and to the deputy secretary of Defense, and the secretary wanted me to point out, as some of you know if you were with us yesterday, we would not let the secretary go on at great length as he wanted to about the importance of transformation, the kinds of things we've seen thus far. He talked to me about this this morning; he wishes he were here. And he will come back and talk more about it with you and with the admiral.

But without any further ado, I will turn this over to you, sir, and you've got a few brief remarks to start off.

Cebrowski: Thank you very much, Torie.

This is indeed a great and important day for me: it's my 36th wedding anniversary, and that's the most important thing on my agenda today. You're second. (Laughter.)

But it's, of course, good to be here with you. My plan is to talk just a little bit about the office, how I view force transformation. We'll look at it through several lenses. But most of all what I'd like to do is stop talking and take your questions and then see if we can develop a little bit of a dialogue on issues that you think are most important with regard to transformation.

What I'd like to do is look at the subject of transformation through the lens of strategy, through the lens of corporate strategy, risk management and organizational principles. But first, a few -- let me talk a little bit about some of the things that the secretary asked me to do.

First and foremost, the president and the secretary elevated transformation quite rightly to the level of strategy. And that is probably the most important lens through which to look at transformation. Strategy is about how one selects a competitive space and determines the competitive attributes within that space which will lead to advantage. Strategy answers the fundamental questions of how one controls the scope, pace and intensity of a competition.

And so you can see and hear some of the key questions which must be answered with regard to force transformation.

The secretary wanted transformation linked to key strategic functions, and he has mentioned four of those: the assurance of allies, the dissuading of competition, the deterrence of hostilities and, if need be, the decisive defeat of enemies. Clearly transformation plays a role on all four of those, but the one which seems to get the most attention, and it certainly attracts my attention, is the dissuading of competitive entry.

The secretary was also keen to point out that transformation is not about the future. It is about the present as much as it is about the future. If something is indeed a good way to think in 2015, well then why shouldn't we be thinking that way today? Or what elements of it couldn't we draw into the present age? And if you were to look at history in conflict, for example, as well as the current conflict, I think you can see examples of transformation in process in the present day. And this is a very useful way to think about transformation, as not something to be relegated to the future. It's safe to live in the future, and I suppose I could always retreat to the future, but I refuse to do that, and I wouldn't be doing my job if I did.

The secretary, of course, also wants us to identify and leverage our enduring advantages. He's interested in long-term competition and maintaining an advantage in that. He wants fresh approaches to risk management and it's appropriate that he turn to transformation as a potential vehicle -- as a vehicle for that. And he also asked me to deal quite up front with the cultural impediments to transformation. Much has been written about this. You're all familiar with that literature, and it's something that a person who's dealing with transformation has to confront head on.

John Cotter has said that the last thing to change in an organization is its culture, and consequently the work on cultural change must begin first. There are some tools for that. Of course, there's the schoolhouse, it tends to take a very long time.

But we have some other examples which go very much faster -- for example, operational prototyping.

When one introduces an operational prototype, when you put something in the hands of people they have no trouble visualizing what's happening. They can then extrapolate from that to change. And that can indeed be very, very powerful. And there are several examples of doing that. We have one of those going on right now with the lease of a high-speed transport ship for experimentation with the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard and the Special Operations Forces. You also have the Marine Corps experimenting with one out in the Pacific. And already, although these ships have been in the hands of the operators for only a matter of weeks, already you can tell that minds are racing and ideas are coming forward. And so, therefore, I will undertake to catalyze operational prototyping as a vehicle.

I get some support, of course, by virtue of language in the QDR, for people who weren't privy to earlier conversations with the secretary. And the secretary asked that I, of course, support the transformation effort, foster innovation and experimentation, evaluate transformation efforts, promote synergy and provide him with policy recommendations. And so of course I will do that. But again, first and foremost, the thing to remember is that we're talking about strategy.

A few months ago, in his report to the Congress, the secretary said that network-centric warfare should be the cornerstone of DoD's strategic plan for the transformation of the forces. But network-centric warfare is more than a cornerstone, and transformation is more than network-centric warfare. So we are indeed working at a -- starting our work, at least, at a very high level in strategy, since the understanding of network-centric warfare and operations is that it flows from the fundamental changes or shifts in the processes within society itself. And so this is an example we've seen of the transformation which we are all living, this transformation in society, and so it's quite natural to expect such a thing in the military itself.

I've been asked, what is transformation? Again, I'm helped in the QDR, they gave a definition: the evolution and deployment of combat capabilities that provide revolutionary or asymmetric advantages to our forces -- a good definition. One of the important things about this definition is that it's followed by another definition, the definition of modernization, which means, then, that it contrasts transformation with modernization and therefore says what transformation is not.

I've expanded somewhat on the QDR definition for my own working definition, and that is that transformation are those continuing processes and activities which create new sources of power and yield profound increases in military competitive advantage as a result of new, or the discovery of, fundamental shifts in the underlying rule sets. So we're trying to get to some of the shifts in the basics which underlie the formation and application of military power. And then that, of course, should be reflected in the metrics, or how one answers the fundamental question of, how do you know you're doing transformation, vice something else?

The need for transformation, I think, has been well established as compelling, and certainly after 9/11 it should be self-evident. But why this sense of urgency? In his long article with on the subject in the Washington Post, the secretary talked about the relationship between transformation and the current war effort. And indeed we should realize that this is simultaneously the next war and the next inter-war period.

It takes time to decide how to do things, and that should give us a little sense of urgency in that one can't push these things off for very long, because it takes time to decide what it is one wants to do. Once a decision has been made, the department is capable of moving very, very quickly, and there are several cases in history when very significant capabilities were brought on line in a short period of time. One that springs to mind at first is the November 1956 decision to put nuclear missiles to sea on submarines, and it was in November, exactly four years later, in 1960 that George Washington went out on its first patrol with nuclear weapons.

And so it's only a period of four years for profound change. But it frequently takes much longer to decide, and this means that work has to be done in supporting decisions and indeed helping to craft the tools which will support decision-making, and these of course include such things as war-gaming, experimentation, and again, prototyping.

And I suppose another reason why one should focus on this very much now is because, even though the Defense budget has had something of an increase, costs continue to grow. They're quite -- indeed, the problems remain daunting. So we need to view transformation more as a resource than as a cost, and indeed it is. Recall, of course, that the future is funded by the past, and we should expect to apply that as we go forward.

Just a couple words on corporate strategy and risk. Of course there are present day needs which must be met, systems which must be maintained, salaries which must be paid, infrastructure which must be repaired and the like. And one should not be surprised if the Department continues to spend a considerable portion of its assets to do those many things. However, a sound corporate strategy has two other elements. One of those is to push out the boundaries of current competencies, exploring the boundaries of those competencies to perhaps create new competitive advantage in a competitive space in which there is already some expertise.

The second one is where we talk about potentially creating a whole new competitive space, and these can indeed be quite grand -- activities which can change the Department and perhaps change the world, and we've done that before. For example, the decision to communicate in a sense from space changed the Department, changed the world. The decision to pursue navigation from space changed the Department, changed the world.

The catchy statement, "Own the night" changed the Department; changed the world. Certainly nuclear ballistic missiles in submarines changed the Department; changed the world.

So we have in our history demonstrated the ability to do this. The trouble with many of these things is we see them retrospectively, and part of the great challenge is to adopt a more forward-looking view and to create the kind of environment which will encourage and, indeed, catalyze the kinds of activities which can produce those kinds of changes. And so, of course, we're keenly interested in that.

One of the reasons why we're so keenly interested in that is that it relates to elements of risk management. Until this last spring, we were asking the question -- How much is enough? -- and that was a measure of risk. But now we see that the more appropriate questions have to do with breadth rather than depth, because, you see, as you spend a great deal of time focusing more narrowly on what you think is a projected conflict, and you develop depth against that, you create large spaces or gaps into which an enemy can maneuver strategically. In other words, the more you optimized and the better you got at the preferred mode of conflict and the preferred mode of scenario, the higher your risk actually became because you created more opportunities for an enemy. Okay? Therefore, one of our products must be the broadening of our capabilities -- our capabilities base, our technology base, and our industrial base. And so that is the way to view risk management.

Lastly, let's take a look at the issue of metrics. These are some of the questions that -- you know, that I'll be asking: What new competitive space is being created by this activity? How is competitive entry being limited? For example, we can see that barriers to entry in some key areas are falling; for example, in cyberspace, in space, at sea. And so the question becomes one of, well, how are we responding to that?

How do we reestablish or compensate for those falling competitive -- those barriers to competitive entry? What new rules are being created or used? What new relationship emerges? For example, we see -- in discussions of network-centric warfare we talk about the shift of sources of power to information-based activities. So we should expect to see, for example, a shift from some of the more industrial-age sources of power over to, perhaps, sensors, and then a concept should emerge with regard to sensors.

How is the capabilities base being broadened -- as I just mentioned before. What new warfare elite will emerge? What's the underlying new concept? For example, for demassification of the Navy -- or not the Navy, but the whole military. Pardon my slip. I've been talking about the Navy for 37 years; it should come as no surprise.

How might we develop a new concept to deal with weapons of mass destruction? How do we shift the focus away from systems and onto joint mission capabilities packages? Is there a concept or a methodology for that? And we should see some evidence. We should see new training programs. We should see a new elite emerging. We should see the expression of transformation in war plans. We should see people talking more about operational prototyping, about new forms of experimentation -- not experimentation downstream of a decision already made, but experimentation upstream, to inform a decision. We should see the emergence of new organizational structures and new doctrine. We should, perhaps, see new methodologies for readiness reporting.

And then, finally, we should see efforts to manage the dislocations and devolutions which are inherent in transformation because as something new appears, something old is devalued. And that brings me back to the beginning, which is cultural impediments to change. And that's normally what causes those impediments.

Well, with that, why don't I stop, and I'll take your questions.

Q: Admiral, to what extent do you think, personally, 7/11 -- or 9/11, and the war on terrorism has changed the military's mind a bit toward massification, toward battle, toward the Cold War approach to things? And will this make it easier to iron out, eviscerate the cultural impediments to change?

Cebrowski: I think it's done several things for us. First of all, it's given us an enhanced sense of urgency. Second of all, it's given us an existence proof that we must broaden our capabilities base to limit the way a potential enemy can maneuver into a space that we create not by neglect, but rather, by our allocation decisions. And then, lastly, it also gives us an existence proof of the kind of agility which is required.

I don't think that very many people would have predicted exactly that these kinds of forces would come together in this way for that kind of battle. And probably there are several people who before the fact would have said, "Well, we'll never do that. We don't have a doctrine for it. We haven't trained for it. You know, there have been no -- there are no war plans exactly for that."

But that is the reality, and that is war the way war actually does develop, without a precise fit to the existing doctrine, to the war plans, to preconceived notions. It calls forth a certain amount of mental agility.

And so all of those things combine, I think, to add impetus to the secretary's program for transformation.

Q: And do you think the military leaders believe this? Do you think it's made a change in the mind-set?

Cebrowski: Well, I just talked with one of the service chiefs this morning, and he was quite enthusiastic about transformation and went on at some length about his ideas for transformation. So I don't -- I don't see we have a problem.

Q: Sir, can you tell us a little bit about how you feel on spiral development? Is that an acquisition strategy that you're going to be pushing for in all the military services?

Cebrowski: I'd like to expand the notion a little bit of spiral development or spiral acquisition to something that I call continuous adaptive acquisition. And an element of that is operational prototyping. And I could go on at some length on this particular subject, and you may have heard me do this before, which might have prompted the question -- (chuckles) -- but there are indeed some opportunities here.

When one pursues a robust operational prototyping program, one should expect a ripple-down effect in the -- there to be a ripple effect through acquisition more broadly. What you want to do is put a capability in the hands of people as soon as you possibly can, and then have the ability to issue the next item, then the next item, constantly growing and changing.

And so the capability emerges and the systems portions of that evolve together with the doctrine and the organizational constructs and the fit into war plans, the fit into larger mission capabilities packages, which is, I believe, a much superior way to do things than to forecast a need 15 to 25 years hence, freeze a design, and then make it fit into the reality that emerges. This is a different approach. I believe there's room for both of those things, but I'd like the continuous adaptive one for my purposes, in that it seems much more suitable to the emergent nature of transformation.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: Can you discuss a little bit about the structure of your office? I've heard that there are about a half a dozen special assistants. What would they all be looking into? And is there anybody in your office that will be working with allies or other militaries as they transform?

Cebrowski: Let me take the last one first. Even though the United States generates, you know, probably about 25 percent to 27 percent of the world's wealth, depending on how you measure it, and we have a marvelous education system and, you know, truly marvelous industry, it would be arrogant to assume that all of the good ideas will come, you know, from within our own borders. And we therefore have to be very open to alternative approaches and -- so that we can take them in, as well. That kind of diversity enriches us. It broadens our capabilities base and makes it easier for us to develop relationships with allies and potential coalition partners. And so we should be doing that kind of thing, and so I won't be neglecting what goes on overseas at all.

Next, with regard to the office itself. We'll work in five broad areas. First, linkage to key elements of strategy, so we will have a strategic focus and included in that will be the exploration of the future of war and alternative underlying rule sets which govern the processes of war.

Second is concept formulation -- is absolutely key. The systems decisions fall out the bottom. One should do work in strategy threats and technology first, and they should yield, you know, concept development, and this is a truly creative area of the work.

Then there is technology itself, technology search, for example, and issues of technology surprise -- the issue that you brought up, too, about looking overseas with the allies.

Next is the experimentation program, both the joint and the service experimentation program. A key tool for the implementation.

And then the fifth area, also an implementation area having to do with operational prototyping.

We used a simple formula that "innovation equals creativity times implementation." And so you should expect a balanced approach between creativity and implementation in the staff. But it's a very small staff. It's intended to be small. On the other hand, we're meant to have a very large virtual network, meant to team broadly. And that teaming has to extend beyond the Department; it has to extend to industry. Industry is one of the great defense partners. It has to extend to the capital. It would be naive to suppose that one element of the national -- one large element of the national security partnership could transform and it not have an effect on the other elements. And consequently, there must be a dialogue and a relationship with all of those other elements as well.

Yes, sir?

Q: You mentioned the cultural impediments within the Department, but it seems that, you know, beyond just being in the department, those are within the services, too. Each of them has their own --

Cebrowski: Sure. Yeah, I included that in the outline.

Q: And in light of that, I wonder what do you plan to do to bring them all under the same tent, so to speak? And of the various services, who do you think is doing the best, so far? (Laughter.)

Cebrowski: Okay, I'm not running a beauty contest; nor am I picking winners and users! (Laughs.) So I won't go there!

Q: How do you think the Army is doing?

Cebrowski: Why did you pick Army to ask?

Q: Well, I'm with a paper in Watertown, New York -- (laughter) --

Cebrowski: Okay. Okay.

I'm sorry, I lost the drift of your first question.

Q: Bring them all under the same tent.

Cebrowski: Oh, bringing them under the tent.

The most important elements of the methodology for transformation are to do the research, get the intellectualization right, work in the sunlight. You'll probably have as many opportunities to look into the effort as I will.

And that's important, because there must be a debate, there must be the discussion, the refining -- not to attain the one best solution, because there is no such thing as the one best solution, but to understand the broadened base which we're seeking to create. Ultimately, some resource decisions will have to be made. My role is to make policy recommendations which may influence those decisions and to inform that debate to the extent it can.

Q: You mentioned the continuous adaptive acquisition, so if you're constantly changing, how do you keep the operators up to date? And you mentioned in your opening remarks that the schoolhouses are really slow to change, so are we now looking for different ways to train troops?

Cebrowski: No, schoolhouses are very good, but remember, there's a difference between education and training. You train for the known; you educate for the unknown. Education will always be important and training will be important because of the requirement to hone perishable skills which are necessary to succeed in combat. So, that goes on.

But let's go back -- what was the first part of the question again?

Q: How do you keep the operators up to date if you're continuously adapting what you're doing?

Cebrowski: Okay, that's important. That's important. Let me turn the question back to you -- if you continue to give operators systems and doctrine which had been developed based on decisions that were made sixteen to twenty-five years ago, how do you keep the operators up to date? In other words, the problem is harder now than if you go to continuous adaptive acquisition and roll things at a higher rpm.

For example, several years ago -- seven years ago, we left the WMCCS, the Worldwide Military Command and Control System, and one of the things we found with regard to WMCCS is that while people were very, very good at operating and maintaining WMCCS, and those were good Americans doing that, they worked that system for so long that in the meantime, the rest of the commercial world took information technology in a completely different direction. And those people then were at a major disadvantage in adjusting to the new realities of the information age.

Far better we continually introduce the new technologies so they can then be kept up to date. Remember, it's not an issue of keeping all of the people up to the same level -- that's not required. But you do need some people that are pretty close to the cutting edge.

Q: Then how do you rate competency, if you're constantly changing the core competency?

Cebrowski: Perhaps you change the rating criteria as well. In other words, you don't want to -- if you're going to move forward in a dynamic way, you want to cut loose from your sea anchors of, perhaps, old ways of rating people, old ways of doing personnel management and reach for something different.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: Sir, both the Congress and the GAO have criticizing DoD for not adequately supporting Army transformation. What is DoD going to do to address that?

Cebrowski: Well, why don't we take that up sometime later, after we've looked into it. But I'm not going to jump on that one.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: I'd like to follow up on the question of bringing the services under the same tent. Naval -- or network-centric warfare you said was the cornerstone of transformation, but that's a Navy term.

Cebrowski: No, it isn't. (Laughs.)

Q: Is that going to be a problem? It is associated with Navy, though.

Cebrowski: Yes, it is, because I'm the first one who said it publicly and I was wearing a Navy uniform when I did it. However, the idea really comes from Sun Microsystems, when the president of Sun talked about that it's not the computer, but it's the computer in the networked condition or the networked environment; it's about network-centric computing -- in other words, it is just a word which goes on the phenomenon of the Information Age.

And that's the -- that's what you have here.

Now one should expect there to be a natural, you know, sense of inter-service competition, which can indeed be very, very helpful. On the other hand, when I, you know, for example, in a conversation which -- with the chief of staff of the Air Force, he talked about horizontal integration and said, "You should like this concept; it's a fundamental feature of network-centric warfare." When I look at the service experimentation programs, I see that all of them are built on the fundamentals of network-centric warfare. So the reason that is, is because network-centric warfare is an expression of the Information Age.

You could put another name on it, but whichever name you pick, you want to make sure that you pick up the totality of the phenomenology of the Information Age. And that's what you see to do.

To the extent that a title becomes divisive, once you desert the title in favor of the concept, I have no problem with -- you know, with doing that. The fact of the matter is that when I look at out at the services and I see the power they're deriving from their experimentation program, it's all related to the same fundamentals -- high-quality shared awareness.

Q: Do you see the problem that all the services have different C4ISR programs that are network-centric, warfare-related, but are competing, you know --

Cebrowski: Interoperability is a major problem. If you are not interoperable, if you're not on the 'net, you're not benefiting from the Information Age, if you're not contributing, you're just not in the Information Age. You're not on the team. People do not strive to be non-interoperable, but there are forces which tend to, you know, lead people to program decisions, for example, which might result in a lack of interoperability, and those need to be addressed. And I would think your best source on that is probably Assistant Secretary Stenbit, who I believe is very vigorous in that area.

Yes, sir?

Q: You mentioned, in response to a question from, I think, Charlie, that when you were talking about what elements of transformation were visible in the present situation, which is the phrase you used, you mentioned agility. Do you see other elements of transformation in the present situation? And so what would you characterize those as being?

Cebrowski: Hm.

Q: I ask because it seems to me that so far the military have been doing in the Afghan -- in an unusual situation, the military are actually doing fairly traditional things -- you know, the Air Force -- the Navy has been bombing what it can see, and the Special Forces have been doing what they do, and the Marines have just done vertical envelopment. I don't see what's transformational. It's a strange part of the world --

Cebrowski: That's good glass-half-empty analysis.

Q: (Laughs.)

Cebrowski: (Laughs.) The -- on the -- you could adopt that. On the other hand, who is that naval aviator talking to, to deliver the ordnance? What kind of team is doing that? What's the communications medium that is for it? Is the doctrine, you know, exactly as it says in the glossy pub, or is it somewhat different?

You know -- and so I believe that there's a lot more of interest here. But I think it's also premature, particularly for a person such as myself, to talk about that. Certainly there are lessons learned, efforts going on as we speak. And I'll be keen to see them, as you are.

Yes, sir?

Q: Admiral, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about political cultures. When you do prototyping, there's an assumption that some of the prototypes aren't going to work out as you might have hoped. When you do things in the sunshine, your failures are going to be out there for everyone to see. What's your assessment of the political culture in Washington and its willingness to accept those kinds of setbacks on the road to transformation?

Cebrowski: Whenever there's transformation, there will be, as I mentioned, dislocations because a decision will be made this way versus some other way -- frequently the new at the expense of the past. And so there's the dislocation.

That dislocation is represented in the form of constituencies, and those constituencies have a legitimate voice. It is incumbent on us to make the logic clear and compelling, to work with both the constituents and their representatives so that they are aware in advance, and that the larger political system understand that -- that something is created here and that that creation is to the benefit of the nation, and that new creation itself will have constituencies which will be just as vocal as the ones from the past.

When one does things under a bushel, as opposed to in the sunlight, then both the constituencies and their representatives are surprised, and so one should expect, then, a human cry from them, quite legitimate to say, "Why wasn't I kept informed so that I can make adjustments in advance, rather than being led down a path which is going to go nowhere?" So working in the sunlight continues to be good.

Next, with regard to failures, to put one's failures in the sunlight is excellent, so that other people can learn from them, as well. And we have a responsibility to do that.

Yes, ma'am?

Q: You mentioned the joint mission capability packages, and I was wondering if you could describe a little bit what you have in mind there, and also if you ever envision a standing joint force of any kind?

Cebrowski: Okay. The mission capabilities package in, I guess in a sentence, could be described as the sum total of that which is necessary to perform a task. And so it is not a system in the sense of a hardware system. Rather, it is a system in the sense of the total capability. And when one makes decisions based on that package, one is led to different conclusions. For example, with regard to interoperability, then becomes, you know, quite obvious that this has to be addressed, then, in a way quite differently from before.

But this concept of mission capabilities package -- I suspect you're going to hear a good deal more about that as the months unfold.

You had another question, too.

Q: Yes. Do you ever envision a standing joint force of some sort? That was recommended by some of the panels earlier this year.

Cebrowski: Yeah. I expect there to be a considerable exploration of that and further definition of it over time. It's something which has captured the imagination of several people, and consequently it deserves research and attention, and I believe it will get it.

Yes, sir?

Q: One of your five subject areas was technology. Can you talk a little bit about technology and its role in transformation?

Cebrowski: Within technology there are -- opportunities are created for -- you know, for competitive advantage. One of the ones which springs to mind, for example, is stealth. Another one is very high-volume information sharing -- very robust information sharing and its attendant networking. So technology has created an opportunity to do something which you simply couldn't do before. In other words, you can acquire a capability or at the very least a competitive attribute which, for some period of time, is not readily available to a potential adversary. And so it's very worthwhile to pursue technology when one's working in the area of transformation.

There is also the issue of -- on the threat side of technology, technological surprise. It's worth looking at. With regard to technological surprise, just a couple of thoughts, here, is that frequently we look overseas for technological surprise. And what I would argue, as I did earlier, is that one should also look overseas for technological opportunity, as well. But in focusing overseas for technological surprise, we often miss the fact that a large amount of technological surprise occurs within the United States, and this takes me back then to the notion of sharing with industry, which means more than the defense industry. It actually defines the defense industry in much broader strokes than we did before, because certainly technological surprise could appear in other than the defense industry.

Yes, sir?

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld has said on a number of occasions that he thinks the term "high-demand, low-density" is just a euphemism for the department not buying enough of the right things. (Laughter.) Is that your view? How do you --

Cebrowski: You shouldn't expect me to disagree with that. (Laughter.)

Q: How do you get around -- I mean, would it be -- the high-demand, low-density issue with respect to transformation, how do you get around it?

Cebrowski: If you look at the high-density, low-demand items, you will find that the vast majority of those relate to sensors. Okay? And that is a telling story. Okay? We have been talking about high-density, low-demand in this way for many years, the better part of a decade, and we're still talking about it today. Okay? It indicates that we made -- or we passed up an opportunity to reallocate assets or resources towards that as long as 10 years ago. And to the extent that those things persist, it means we persist to make that reallocation error.

All right? The fact of the matter is that we move into the Information Age you use the substitution of information for mass, and information product moves to primacy. Therefore, those things which are capable of generating information product become critically important. And over time, as we move into the Information Age, you should expect to see the allocation of resources shifting in the favor of information systems, information-product generators, and all those related activities. To the extent that they haven't, may represent a physical and budgetary manifestation of cultural resistance to change.

And so it's -- I don't think I could put a sharper point on what the secretary said. In other words, if you're going to live in the Information Age, you ought to allocate your resources consistent with that age so that you can leverage the power that comes from it.

Let's see, who didn't talk yet? (Laughter.)

Q: I'm sorry.

Q: That's all right.

Q: Now I forgot! (Laughter.) We've been hearing consistently from the Department the ways in which the conflict in Afghanistan has proved the QDR right, have proved the QDR correct; proved elements of the QDR right; that the QDR was moving in the right direction.

But your job, of course, is not just to follow the QDR blindly --

Cebrowski: That's right.

Q: -- but to better the transformation effort. So what are some of the shortfalls that you see -- shortcomings of the QDR, given the current situation? Are there any things that could be improved, or any things in the QDR that were outright wrong?

Cebrowski: I don't think that the authors of the QDR would say that the QDR is definitive.

Q: Right.

Cebrowski: And even though it's a document which represents a milepost in time, that's what it is, is a -- you know, is really a milepost. It's an important milepost, one that deserves to be honored. On the other hand, it should not proscribe growth, and I don't believe that the authors would intend that it do that. If I could expand on that just a little bit with regard to the focus of this office, it might help put that in perspective.

There is a considerable element of discovery and invention in the work of this office. Our special operating domain is at the intersection of unarticulated needs and non-consensual change; that is to identify needs which are not yet recognized or articulated, and methods to address those needs which were not necessarily recognized or approved. Okay? And so one could see and hear immediately the barriers to this kind of work. It's why I have no illusions about the degree of difficulty. To the extent that a service or agency has already undertaken a transformation effort, addressed a need with perhaps a bold new way, that is laudable and should be encouraged. But at that point, you know, I'm not needed because the system is fully capable of addressing those things. What my job is is to encourage the discovery and invention portion.

Okay. There you go.

Q: Admiral, you spoke --

Cebrowski: I guess this will have to be the -- you're standing up meaning that --

Clarke: It's my job to wrap it up, unfortunately.

Cebrowski: Your job. Okay.

Q: -- about the continuing introduction of new technologies and the operational prototypes, does that suggest some kind of a closer tie between the military on a -- sort of a real-time basis with senior officers about testing these systems, sort of a -- more of a brotherhood or a sisterhood there than currently exists?

And does that also suggest new ways of -- you talked about getting rid of old ways of doing personnel management, moving to something. Do you see any kind of a quick transition of officers moving out of military into industry, back into the military -- that type of thing? Or do you see any other changes in personnel?

Cebrowski: Yeah, that latter piece, I haven't thought about a very great deal. But addressing the former one, it is frequently said that officers involved in new ideas need to stay in place for very long periods of time to have at least some degree of stability in this. And one could do that, and indeed, we've done that in some specialized cases.

However, what I think would be a very useful approach is, again, in operational prototyping, to introduce something to the operating forces so that the ranks get an opportunity to join into this process on the ground floor, and consequently, they will grow up with the capability. The young officers and enlisted personnel who, for example, are working with the U.S. Marines in this -- on this ship that they're using out in the Pacific, are in on the ground floor of something; they are part of the development of the doctrine, and indeed, the requirements over time. And they may have a 25-year career ahead of them working with that kind of capability.

Next, this kind of innovation or experimentation is really a very powerful element of leadership. A good leader crafts the future for his people and then shows them their place in it. To the extent that leadership continues to focus on past practices, methods and systems, they fail to perform that most vital leadership function and, hence, will not inspire their subordinates to that future -- to the future. And so it should come as no surprise to those leaders when their subordinates desert the ranks when it comes to -- you know, when they get an opportunity to leave military service and go other.

An experimentation program, a prototyping program, a concept development program into which many people are broadly invited -- again, a reason to work in the sunlight -- helps that leader in the creation of that future, pointing the way to the subordinates to their role in that future. Very, very powerful leadership tool.

Q: And just one quick follow up. Do you expect your charter to be personnel management system reviews, to look at the way that the military personnel system is structured, as far as retirement and early out -- I mean early retirement, and so forth?

Cebrowski: The personnel capability, the whole notion of intellectual capital and the primacy of people, you know, cannot be overstated and has to be factored into everything that we do. But I have no intentions of trying to insert myself into decisions about -- fine grain decisions about, you know, personnel -- personnel policies, but rather, concern myself more with the broad implications of transformation for personnel policies.

Again, thank you very, very much. I hope I have an opportunity to come back and talk to you again. I've been told that the secretary would like to do that. At that time, I'm sure I'll talk a good deal less. And I look forward to the opportunity.

Q: Thank you.

THIS TRANSCRIPT WAS PREPARED BY THE FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., WASHINGTON, DC. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE IS A PRIVATE COMPANY. FOR OTHER DEFENSE RELATED TRANSCRIPTS NOT AVAILABLE THROUGH THIS SITE, CONTACT FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE AT (202) 347-1400.

Additional Links

Stay Connected