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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

West 2014 Day Two

 

Panel: Information Dominance Roundtable

The United States will be hampered in dealing with a resurgent China unless it can take the myriad intelligence data it collects and uses it to understand the nation’s thinking, the director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at an `Information Dominance Roundtable’ that kicked of Wednesday’s WEST 2014 gathering at the San Diego Convention Center.

Information dominance “involves not just the ability to collect and transfer large amounts of data regarding military, commercial, social and economic networks, but a deep understanding of a potential adversary’s’ strategies, mindsets and intent,” said Navy Adm. Paul Becker, who serves as the Joint Chief of Staff’s intelligence chief. “We are often at an information deficit to discern what elements are most important regarding potential adversaries strategies, mindsets and intent in certain A2/AD (anti-access, area-denial) environments.”

Then the admiral addressed China directly.

 “If one doesn’t understand a potential adversary’s strategy, then one might think the adversary is conducting random acts. And to counter those random acts, we would ourselves conduct random responses. So how many within the broader U.S. intelligence community, how many within the information dominance core, truly understand China’s grand strategy? How many understand why the Chinese Communist Party refers to it as a `Grand Strategy for Rejuvenation by the Year 2050’? Why the word `rejuvenation?’ You know, why 2050? How many info dominance core or U.S. intel community members for that matter can describe why the dash line is not solid? What does the Central Military Commission mean when they talk about `harmonious seas’?

While the WEST 2014 convention at the San Diego Convention Center is entitled, `Shaping the Maritime Strategy: How Do We Make It Work?’ much of the focus already has been on China’s military and territorial ambitions.  On Tuesday, for example, Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., criticized the country’s creation of an air defense zone and said he “worried” about China.

And that’s before an expected lively panel discussion slated for Thursday entitled, `What About China?’

Becker wasn’t waiting for Thursday.

“What are Chinese core interests?” asked Becker. When the Chinese talk about “preparing to conduct deterrent actions, deterrence means one thing to us. In the Chinese lexicon, it could mean kinetics. Not acts of war, but high order course of diplomacy.”

In short, Becker said the U.S. intelligence community was thus working with an “information deficit.” He also drew parallels to counter insurgency efforts in Southwest Asia. “COIN is not about fighting an enemy’s forces, but about fighting an enemy’s strategy.”

When it comes to China, the admiral said, “the outcome will be determined by our capability to understand and act with precision.”

“We must never overlook the criticality of the traditional practices of analysis that is the bedrock of the bedrock of the information dominance core and that is to obtain a penetrating and deep understanding and awareness of a potential adversary’s strategy, mindset and intent.”

 

Panel: How are the Senior Operators Going to Execute the Strategy?

In other developments Wednesday, the admiral overseeing Naval Surface Forces said he is confident in the future of the littoral combat ship, despite a recent Pentagon decision to drastically reduce the Navy’s planned purchases of vessels.

The smaller, faster ships have come under increasing criticism and the Pentagon in January reduced its planned purchases from 52 to 32. But Adm. Thomas H. Copeman III said issues being reported in the media have either already been resolved or are being resolved.

“I’m pretty confident about it,” he said. “It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when.”

Copeman’s comments came during a morning panel discussion entitled, “How Are the Senior Operators Going to Execute the Strategy?” Copeman was joined Adm. David H. Buss, commander of Naval Air Forces; Adm. Kenneth E. Floyd, commander of the Third Fleet; and Gen. John Toolan, commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Buss said that with less permissive environments looming, Navy fliers “will be going back to the future. We are refocusing within naval aviation in developing the types of skills we used to have in the air to air arena.” He added that commanders also are going to be able to take the data they collect through efforts to dominate information and use it effectively. “It’s about sensing and understanding and knowing what is going on in your battle space,” he said, adding that “dominating the local electromagnetic spectrum” will remain a priority.

Floyd said a critical factor in executing strategy is building coalitions and partnerships with other branches of the military and with other nations. “In my mind, no partner is more important for the Navy than the Marine Corps.”

He added that not to be overlooked is “to make sure that we are providing realistic and relevant training for our forces.”

Toolan agreed, adding the Marine Corps is “looking harder at how we integrate with special operations forces.”

With the focus turning toward the Asia/Pacific region, Toolan also noted that 1,000 Marines will begin permanently rotating in Australia for the first time later this year, and there are now four infantry battalions stationed at Okinawa, up from the single battalion that had been stationed there for years.

 

 

Luncheon Keynote: ADM William E. Gortney, USN, Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command 

During his keynote luncheon address, Adm. William E. Gortney said the Navy will have to think smarter during the coming years of fiscal frugality if it wants its ships to last and keep its troops and their families from burning out.

“We can sit around and complain or we can lead,” Gortney said. “We’re going to have to make some really tough choices.”

Those choices have led to the Optimized Fleet Response. It is an FRP that will lead to eight-month deployments in a 36-month cycle that includes maintenance and readiness and would result in sailors being home 68 percent of the time.

“Why is that important for us? Because I think eight months is the ragged edge of what sailors and families will be able to hold onto.”

Asked later about the recent flap over the George Washington and what he thought the optimal number of aircraft carriers would be, Gortney replied:

“We don’t want to get rid of anything. We need more, to be honest… The problem is that we have to match how much money we have in order to be able to maintain it. If we don’t figure that out, we’re going to be on the HOV lane to hollow. And that’s why you see the Navy has made some, put up some really tough choices on getting rid of some capability and capacity that we really need in order to do our missions.

“And the question is what is the impact say of GW going away really occur? The impact occurs in about `21which is supposed to come back into the rotation and we will go back to nine and 10 months deployments. ”

He concluded, “Just a single ship really matters in our ability…in our ability to generate the forward presence that we need.”

 

Panel: How Do We Regain the Skills for the High End War Fight?

Wednesday’s panel discussions ended with an afternoon session entitled, `How Do We Regain the Skills for the High End War Fight?’ All on the panel took issue with the phrasing of the question.

“We’ve got the best naval war fighting capability that we’ve ever had,” said moderator Adm. Richard Hunt (Ret.). The discussion, he said, should be about “making sure we stay ahead of the game.”

Admiral James Rodman, Jr., agreed. But the chief engineer at SPAWAR Systems Command added, “We’ve got to avoid overconfidence.”

Rodman noted the United States military “dominates, without a doubt, the physical world.” But when it comes to the virtual world and cyber space, we sort of let the proverbial genie out of the bottle.

“The question is, can we dominate that artificial world that we created?” Rodman said.

Making matters more challenging, our enemies are unlike the enemies we’ve faced in the past; any adversary could use a cell phone or computer to attack our economy and inflict serious damage.

Adm. Robert Hennegan (Ret.), former commander of Naval Mine and Anti-Submarine Warfare Command, cited another area of critical importance: “We absolutely must maintain dominance under sea.”

 

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