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Keynote Address: Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Opening up the second day of the United States Naval Institute and AFCEA’s 2012 conference on joint warfighting was U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Dempsey began his address by explaining how he has surveyed the future leaders of the U.S. Armed Forces by meeting with the graduating classes of each of the service academies.
“It’s the human dimension that will get us through all of this and we’ll have to think our way through,” Dempsey said. “I’ll leave here, just so you know the rest of my day – I’ll go out to the Naval Academy. I’ll talk to the graduating class of midshipmen, the class of 2012. And that will complete the circle for me because I’ll have gone to visit with each of the graduating classes. And my message is simply that they need to continue to – that their work has really started.”
And after those meetings, Dempsey was able to assure attendees that the future remains “in good hands.”
“You know they were good enough to get to the academies,” he continued. They’ve now demonstrated that they’re good enough to graduate but the task at hand for them is to demonstrate they’re good enough to lead our nation armed forces. So, their work is just beginning, but we’re in good hands.”
With that in mind, the chairman focused on the present and said that the joint force is at a time of transition and that will affect its identity.
“Today we meet at another pivotal time in our joint force,” he said. “We’re transitioning after a decade of war. A complex and uncertain security environment looms and as we look toward the future, each service in our total joint force faces fundamental questions about their identity, their roles and their capabilities.”
Dempsey said the Pentagon has joke about each branch’s paranoia – the U.S. Air Force’s being unmanned flight will surpass man flight, the U.S. Army’s wondering if they’ll ever fight another major land war, the U.S. Navy’s being the fear of the demise of the carrier battle group and the U.S. Marines’ being a paranoia in general.
He explained how those “paranoias” lend themselves to create this notion that the military will shrink into a single branch, which he dismissed.
However, he said the joint is in need a shift to meet the transition currently underway.
“What does this mean for the force?” he said. “The joint force we have is in need of reset. The joint force we will need does not yet fully exist. And after 10 years of joint warfighting, our services have a pretty good idea of what we do well together and where we need to improve.”
Dempsey called the joint force of the future “Joint Force 2020” and said that it is going to indeed look a lot like “Joint Force 2012.” But he said that often the discussion is misguided about the size of the military instead other fundamental factors.
“I do know our current debates about force sizing must give way to a more fundamental discussion about missions and capabilities,” he said. “We’re not ordering coffee at Starbucks. This is not a matter of getting a tall, grande or venti. It is what will be different that will most matter.”
Dempsey named space and cyber as two of the frontiers were strengthening was needed with the joint forces. But, he also warned of a reliance on technology and how some basic skills must be maintained should technologies be degraded, like the failure of GPS and the need to know how to use a map as an example.
“We need to simulate degraded environments in our war games and stress test each of our systems,” he said. “It could be the worst-case scenario is the likely scenario. Marines and soldiers have long been taught to assemble and disassemble their weapon blindfolded. Well, think about a world in which all operators might be required some analogous skill.”
Dempsey listed some of the concerns that could crop up from time to time and how that force will be needed to meet those concerns.
“What kind of ideas and relationships will we need to successfully counter the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, or cartel violence, or for the matter piracy?” he said. “For each of these thorny problems, we need relationships throughout our entire government. And we’ll need to create new and effective partnerships on many fronts – public and private, government and non-government.”
But no matter what, he said there are things about warfighting that won’t change.
“As we build the force of 2020, we have to capitalize on emerging technology and pay greater attention to resilience in a contested environment and never forget about the importance of building relationships,” he said. “Joint Force 2020 is not just about the 20 percent of the force we can change – it’s also about repurposing the other 80 percent. We also need to remember there are many things that won’t change. War will always be a contest of wills so we will need a military that can impose its will.”
Manned and Unmanned Systems: What is the Right Mix?
As Dempsey pointed out in his address earlier in the day, the use of unmanned air power in the military has become more prevalent. And whereas there have been publicized success with unmanned air power, determining what ratio of manned and unmanned aircraft is a new concern the military must now address.
How to determine that mix was the topic at a panel discussion moderated by retired U.S. Navy Capt. George Galdorsi. That topic Galdorsi says has become more of a mainstream concern while just a few years ago, it was relegated to niche audiences.
“You might have noticed only a few years ago, stories about unmanned systems were mainly only in the defense press,” Galdorsi said. “Now they’re everywhere and by everywhere I mean in Bloomberg and in Forbes and other magazines.”
Dr. Norman Friedman, author of Unmanned Air Combat Systems: A New Kind of Carrier Aviation, made a case that the use of unmanned vehicles has positives in that they save money.
“People cost a lot of money,” Friedman explained. “There’s no way around that.”
Friedman noted that trend in all areas, especially at time with budget concerns and the call for downsizing.
However, Brig. Gen. Peter E. Gersten, director of plans and programs at the headquarters of the Air Combat Command warned against being solely focused on cost, or as he referred to it as “efficiency.”
“Striking that balance is where I live every day,” Gersten said. “Certainly I would not take a holistic approach.”
That balance he said is not giving up effectiveness for the sake of efficiency.
Gersten’s co-panelist U.S. Army Col. Timothy Healy said there were some structural areas to address with unmanned craft. He said the network, bandwidth and reach back were areas not be overlooked in waging this sort of warfare.
“That vehicle still needs to have connectivity back to that person with the joystick,” Healy explained.
But Healy later added that you’re still going to need craft that are remotely piloted since craft that are manned by artificial intelligence are some time away.
The connectivity aspects were also one of the areas noted by Lt. Col. Thomas “Buzz” L. Rempfer. He said connectivity to the ground is important and strides have been made with that.
“We have been able to connect with the guys to the ground like we never have before,” he said. “The realization is that it is not about the man flying the aircraft. It’s about that connectivity to the people on the ground. … We are more in the loop than ever flying the UAV mission.”
Luncheon Keynote Address: U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan
Giving the luncheon keynote at the second day of the United States Naval Institute and AFCEA’s 2012 conference on joint warfighting was U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Allen appearing via satellite explained that in coming days at the Chicago NATO Summit, there will be a message that will confirm the United States’ commitment to Afghanistan.
“As a coalition and as a collective international community, we will say to the Afghan people with one voice: We are not leaving you,” Allen said. “We will highlight our commitment to the Afghan National Security Force beyond 2014. And in so doing, we will also reiterate that a safe, peaceful, secure and prosperous Afghanistan is not just good for the Afghan people, not just good for the Afghan government, but is good for the region as well.”
With that commitment in mind, Allen explained that he is still determined to achieve a successful outcome, particularly on the “human terrain.” He noted that among the Pashtun population Afghanistan, the insurgency is losing on the human terrain.
“As you know in an insurgency, physical terrain is just as important as the human terrain and we seek to dominate the human terrain. But ladies and gentlemen, a tough fight remains for us. Using all available force that I have at my disposal, I intend to continue to pressure the enemy throughout this campaign season in 2012 and into the future.”
Part of Allen’s mission he said was to put Afghanistan in position to where the United States is no longer playing the dominant role. And he explained that a lot of that mission is already reflected in the current operations.
“Today about 90 percent of our operations in Afghanistan are partnered – that is ISAF forces are carefully and closely partnered with Afghan security forces,” Allen said. “And about 40 percent of those operations are Afghan-led.”
“We’ve also been challenged by other unexpected events that required substantial planning and agility on the part of my staff,” Allen said. “Some of those that were represented by the very unfortunate actions of the urination video on the Taliban, the inadvertent burning of the Koran, the shooting in Panjwai – 17 Afghans by one of the troops from ISAF. All of these unanticipated and unexpected events have required both agility and flexibility.”
Allen went on to reiterate his goal, part of which included pressuring enemy and moving the Afghan National Security Forces to the lead of operations.
Cyber Warfare: Are We Really Taking a Joint Approach?
Finally, wrapping up day two at the United States Naval Institute and AFCEA’s 2012 conference on joint warfighting was a panel discussion on cyber warfare – preparing for it and what that battlefield entails. It was moderated by retired Lt. Gen. Charles Croom, the former director of the Defense Information Systems Agency and now the vice president for cyber solutions at Lockheed Martin.
“It’s sort of like missile defense,” McCullough said. “If you don’t get the weapons release authority to the lowest common denominator, you’re going to watch the target go by while you’re deciding to shoot at it or not. How do you refine the tools to delegate to the right level without fully understanding the tools that are being developed right now?”
McCullough said these cyber warfare tools also succumb to the law of unintended consequences, meaning they may act as you intend, but also potentially have an effect somewhere you didn’t intend. Therefore the right balance must be struck.
But decision making in cyber warfare still requires cooperation according to Major Gen. Mark Bowman, the director of Command, Control, Communications and Computers at J-6 for the Joint Staff.
“That decision needs to made as a coordinated decision between cyber command and supporting command,” Bowman said. “It’s got to be a closely coordinated action.”
As far as what sort of actual impact cyber warfare might have, the panelists were quick to remind attendees how many things in life have IP address. McCullough used the turbines of a hydroelectric power plant with a dam as an example and how so many parts of infrastructure could be vulnerable to cyber warfare.
Lt. General Richard P. Mills, deputy commandant for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Combat and Development Integration said to consider the entire picture, which cyber warfare is just one aspect of joint warfighting.
It’s a weapon, not the weapon,” Mills said.