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Joint Warfighting Conference Day 1 On Scene Report
By Toni Guagenti
America’s military – and the future of its coalition forces – faces significant fiscal constraints ahead, which will force its leaders to make tough decisions about what services the armed forces will provide in the coming years.
That was the message Wednesday from Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, on day No. 2 of the Joint Warfare Conference 2011 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center. The conference, sponsored by the U. S. Naval Institute (USNI) and the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association International (AFCEA), aims to answer the overarching question: “How Do We Leverage Successes of Joint & Coalition Warfare?”
“We just can’t do more with less,” Odierno told a packed luncheon crowd of well over 1,000. Leaders have to make difficult choices on what the future military will be able to do, and not do, he emphasized.
At the same time, Gen. Odierno said, the United States needs to remain engaged globally to ensure other nations enjoy prosperity and security. But, after a decade of expansion and war with Iraq and Afghanistan, the military must look at lessons learned and discuss national security and strategy and then look at ways to save.
“We need leaders with vision” who are “willing to do what’s good for the force as a whole,” Gen. Odierno said.
One lesson Gen. Odierno said he learned during his time in Iraq is that military power can only do so much. “It just can’t be military power alone,” but coalition of government, other agencies and other countries, he said.
Themes from Wednesday’s conference included increased communications, not only within the military but globally, security in cyberspace and continued technological advances to keep ahead of the enemy.
Michael W. Wynne, former secretary of the U.S. Air Force, asked a large crowd after breakfast to revel in its role in America’s successes against terrorism in the technological push, communications capabilities and electronic installs “that you all had a hand in conceiving, designing, developing and training …to make this happen.”
But Wynne, called a “futurist” by one military official, kept his comments tempered by expressing “worry and concern” about the future of America’s dominance on land, air, sea and in space.
Wynne talked about “total system effectiveness” when it comes to fighting the enemy.
America needs to invest in communication and electronics to leverage our warfighting capabilities, he said, especially against enemies that are developing their own technologies that thwart our advances.
Wynne also talked about upgrading aircraft for continued deployment around the globe, and the need to make America’s presence known.
One panel took on the topic of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system, and achieving a balance between traditional missions and burgeoning requirements.
There was a consensus that BMD has been a game-changer for the U.S. military. Currently, 21 Navy ships have been modified for BMD capability, a number that will nearly double in the years ahead.
This system is a part of multi-mission ships, according to Vice Adm. Pete Daly, deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces.
With those multi-mission ships, said Rear Adm. Joseph A. Horn Jr., program executive, Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense, the Navy must build off a strong surface foundation – to build off what the service has and what it already knows.
On the other hand, Cdr. Bryan McGrath (Ret.) director of Consulting, Studies and Analysis for Delex Systems Inc., spoke “in favor of imbalance” for Navy ships. “Balance is a concept behind which the lazy hide.”
Certain capabilities, such as the BMD, need to be developed and used to deter hostile enemies or potential foes, so they know America will retaliate, or that America has the ability to strike back whenever the country deems necessary.
In other conference news, a panel of military and civilian experts explained the need for training and education when it comes to combating irregular warfare.
Lt. Col. Frank Hoffman (Ret.), who mediated the panel, talked about four schools of thought when it comes to irregular warfare. The answer probably lies somewhere in between the crusaders, conservative/traditionalists, full-spectrum operations and division of labor.
Brig. Gen. John W. Bullard Jr., prospective deputy commanding general for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, emphasized the need for training and education.
Giving soldiers the knowledge in many different subjects, including anthropology and history, will give them enough knowledge to be able to ask the right questions about how an irregular-warfare enemy must be fought, Bullard said.
In addition to education and training, open communication is key, said Capt. Evin Thompson, head of the Naval Special Warfare Branch, Expeditionary Warfare Division, “so everyone is understanding what is occurring on the battlefield.”
Eric Bassel, director of the SANS Institute, said the military must train and educate, and possibly administer cyber aptitude tests, to cyber soldiers like the Navy trains its SEAL forces. “But these cyber warriors don’t look like” your typical SEAL, and they’re trained in things like computer forensics and intrusion/detection methods, he added.
Panelist Maj. Gen. Charles J. Dunlap Jr. (Ret.), former deputy judge advocate general for the Air Force, agreed. Training, based on critical thinking, should focus on methodologies and systems, he said.
To finish up, a cadre of experts talked during a panel on cyber warfare and how to provide assured communications to the warfighter.
Lt. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sorenson (Ret.), former chief information officer for the Department of the Army, explained that the word “cyber” has a multitude of meanings, depending on the person defining it.
Brig. Gen. Joe Brendler, chief of staff for the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), told the crowd to close their eyes and use their imaginations – and to picture a big-screen television with a black night sky with tons of interconnected stars. “Cyberspace is big, and it’s all manmade,” he said.
Rear Adm. Edward H. Deets III, Commander of the Naval Network Warfare Command, emphasized the importance of getting a solid handle on the cyber world because good guys and bad guys operate side by side. “It’s very hard to distinguish the two.”
He added that in battlespace – technology and people drive the cyber world.
Maintaining consensus and momentum with people are key, especially with the “coalition of the willing,” said Col. Tim Hill, with the U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command.
“Embrace the need to share versus the need to know,” Hill said.
Gen. Brendler added that a military goal is to eliminate anonymity within the network, so users can go anywhere within it after giving an assigned identification number. You can retrieve from a global depository and receive on demand, he said.
Vice Adm. Nancy Brown (Ret.) emphasized the need to find a way to operate securely in cyberspace. “We have to figure out not how to build a parameter, but how to break down the parameters” that exist.
Toni Guagenti is a freelance journalist who lives in Norfolk.