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Global Integration Deserves More Attention, Selva Says

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The concept of global integration of the U.S. military is important and underreported, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Defense Writers Group in Washington.

Air Force Gen. Paul Selva told the group yesterday that he is most proud of the way the concept is being integrated into the Joint Staff and combatant commands.

General sits at a table, talking to reporters.
Selva Gestures
Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, details Iranian involvement in oil tanker attacks during remarks at the Defense Writers Group in Washington, June 18, 2019.
Photo By: Jim Garamone, DOD
VIRIN: 190618-D-FN314-002

Global integration is aimed at improving the integration of the joint force across the globe, across the spectrum and across realms of conflict. Conflicts in one part of the globe can spin quickly to other parts. Actions by one adversary can affect actions another may try. Having a global perspective on the threats, resources and capabilities will be key to success for the U.S. military moving forward, officials said.

To ensure the U.S. military's competitive advantage, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has laid out four pillars of global integration: planning, decision-making, force management and force design. The effects of the changes across these four pillars will be felt throughout the joint force.

A Marine mans a weapon mounted to an aircraft in flight.
Sentinel Solo
Marine Corps Sgt. Darrin Smith operates a GAU-21/A from an aircraft during Sentinel Edge 19 at Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in Alberta, Canada, June 15, 2019. The exercise helps ensure combat effectiveness and proficiency.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jose Gonzalez
VIRIN: 190615-M-EH454-087X

The chairman has said the concept allows the Defense Department to make decisions "at the speed of relevance." Global integration may be the most extensive revision to the Joint Staff since the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, the vice chairman said.

Selva, who is due to step down from his position in July, said that when he and Dunford took office in 2015, the strategies that had been written over a number of years "didn't really articulate the things that were important to the department and didn't provide a guide for force design and commitment."

They also noticed that the accumulated risk of deploying forces for operations all over the world "weren't actually cataloged and made available to our senior decision-makers," he said. "It's not a value judgment, it is just an observation of how the system was working. We saw that as a flaw."

A rocket fired from behind a military vehicle that is surrounded by trees.
Rocket Fire
Marines fire rockets from a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System during live-fire training in Alberta, Canada, June 15, 2019, during Sentinel Edge, an exercise focused on combat effectiveness and proficiency.
Photo By: Marine Corps Sgt. Andy Martinez
VIRIN: 190615-M-MI258-123C

In the first year, Dunford and Selva worked with the Joint Staff to articulate and define the requirement "to not only have a military strategy to help us guide force design, but also have a process inside the Joint Staff that did, in fact, catalog the risk to the strategy itself, and the risk to the readiness to the force to be available to do other tasks as we reached into that well of capabilities to do actual daily operations," Selva said.

The concept is enabled by globally integrated campaign plans for each of the major problems defined in the National Defense Strategy. Further, Congress installed the chairman as the global force integrator and gives him the responsibility of cataloging and articulating risk to senior decision makers.

The chairman is tasked to provide military advice to senior executive branch and congressional leaders. Now, he is also responsible and accountable for the global integration of the force.

Flames spew from the back end of a jet cell being tested at night on an aircraft carrier.
Fantail Flare
Sailors test a jet cell on the fantail of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Atlantic Ocean, June 16, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Seaman Dartez Williams
VIRIN: 190616-N-QN175-123

This new responsibility means more than just an added duty, it required a retooling of the Joint Staff, Selva said. The focus is on strategic planning. It looks at how a development in one part of the world affects another, he said. This mostly affects the strategic planning division — the J-5 — and the operations section — the J-3.

"The other substantial change is the reinvigoration of the J-7, which is our force design and strategy division," Selva said.

That division is now aimed at experimentation and force design.

One way to test and refine the concept is through globally integrated exercises, the vice chairman said. This is a combatant commander-level exercise where the principals actually present as themselves.

Two men speak to each other.
Selva Chat
Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with a reporter at the Defense Writers Group roundtable in Washington, June 18, 2019.
Photo By: Courtesy of The George Washington University’s Project for Media and National Security
VIRIN: 190618-O-ZZ999-001E

"In the past, I would show up and be the chairman, the J-3 would show up and be the vice chairman, somebody else would play the combatant commander," Selva said. "We would exercise the elements of command and control, but we wouldn't actually exercise the decision processes."

In the most recent exercise, the principals all participated — from the defense secretary and chairman to all the combatant commanders, he said. This was incredibly helpful, Selva said, adding that he hopes the next exercise will incorporate principals from other agencies.

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