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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

 

"Pivot to the Pacific: What are the Practical and Global Implications?"

 

On Scene Report Day Two  -  January 30, 2013

WEST DAY 2

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet told a morning audience at the WEST 2013 convention that the Pentagon’s decision to rebalance its focus to Asia and the Pacific is strategically sound militarily and vital in helping to ensure a stable world economy.

Adm. Cecil D. Haney noted that 15 of the world’s 20 largest seaports are in Asia and the Pacific, and $5.3 trillion in global trade passes through the South China Sea alone. “Clearly, we, the United States of America, have an interest in that area,” Haney said.

“The economic engines of the world depend on the freedom of the seas for the movement of goods,” Haney said. “We continue to provide security at sea for prosperity on shore.”

Critical in maintaining security in the area, Haney said, is building relationships and trust with the numerous nations that have a stake in the area, China included. He called for “increased interaction with allies, partners and friends in the region.”

“Establishing and building relationships is an important focus,” Haney explained, whether through bilateral exercises and training exercises, or through a new focus on learning about the cultures of the people and the history of the region.

“The relationships we establish are critical in creating relevant and interoperable capabilities.”

That said, “We must be ready to face challenges in this region” through sustained maintenance, planning and training. “Today, as we continue our rebalancing efforts, there is a lot of uncertainty in the region…but we can ill afford to not be ready.”

He pointed to North Korea and several areas of conflicting sovereignty claims in the South China and East China seas as being especially troublesome “friction points” that can be “ripe for miscalculation.”

Recently, for example, Japan and China set jet fighters to what the Japanese call the Senkaku and the Chinese call the Diaoyu. The islands are uninhabited, but sit in a strategic location between Japan and Taiwan.

“We don’t pick sides, but we want to see peaceful resolution.”

Haney pointed to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the North Korean seizure of the Pueblo as consequences that can happen when the country is unprepared.

“We must remain vigilant with effective strategic operation and tactical indications and warning to avoid surprise, and if we are surprised, we must be ready to respond.”

The key challenge today is to do that while dealing with the specter of sequestration and the possibility of relying on continual budget resolutions to get by. The fiscal morass has already resulted in the Navy’s maintenance accounts to be underfunded by $3 billion. Sequestration, Haney said, would mean an additional $4 billion to $5 billion in cuts this year.

How does the nation stay on guard during these turbulent economic times in Washington, D.C.? The United States, Haney said, “must continually rejuvenate our intellectual capacity to sustain world class research and development advantages.”

Despite the ongoing budget challenges, Haney cited several recent improvements to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, including the deployment of Virginia-class submarines, the United States’ newest and most advanced sub; the Osprey MV-22, which can be seen regularly flying in the skies above San Diego County; the Growler EA-18G, which will be the cornerstone of the naval Airborne Electronic Attack mission; and commissioning of San Antonio-class landing platform docks. 

“We must remain vigilant,” he said. “We must continue to enhance our ability to operate in degraded environments.”

“We can ill afford,” Haney concluded, “to not be ready.”

More Videos from our Conference

The morning panel discussion following Haney’s address was entitled Innovation: How Do We Get It in a Military Bureaucracy? and soon focused on challenges facing innovation.

“Innovation in a military bureaucracy is profoundly hard,” stated Maj. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., the Marine Corps representative to the Quadrennial Defense Review. He pointed to several factors, including a structure based on hierarchy, a short-term orientation, and being driven by existing knowledge. He pointed to the controversy surrounding the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Armored Vehicles, which were rushed into production as American troops were falling victim to improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a prime example of what can go wrong. The vehicles’ extended height and extreme weight limit their use, and most models are suited for flat, open terrain or on wide roads. Some analysts say they are not useful for irregular warfare and they are hugely expensive.

Plus, they are a challenge to transport.

Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, commander of the Navy Warfare Development Command suggested “bringing back experimentation back to where it needs to be,” and “not being afraid to fail.”

However Rear Adm. Matthew L. Klunder, chief of Naval research and director of Innovation, Technology Requirements and Test & Evaluation, took a contrarian view. “I’m looking at the glass half full,” he said.

“This is still the age of discovery and innovation,” Klunder said, pulling out a smart phone to drive home his point. He said the Navy has already compressed the time it takes to get key innovative systems to the prototype stage.

Luncheon Keynote  Mr. John Smart, President, Acceleration Studies Foundation

 

 

During an afternoon panel discussion entitled Best of the Best: What Will It Take To Keep Them?, several young military leaders opined on the criteria weighing on the best and the brightest in deciding whether to re-enlist.

The bottom line? “It’s a personal decision for our sailors and Marines to stay,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrew B. Koy, Sr., Deputy Executive Assistant, Commander Naval Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet.

Capt. Luis F. Mejia, Battalion Operations Officer, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said the Marine Corps offers “ample opportunities” to succeed and get ahead. The key to keeping good people, though, is for the armed forces to maintain a “balance between military service and family time.”

It is, he added, “a very fine line.”

Lt. Brendan O. Negle, a Naval air training officer, offered a couple suggestions: “Do not promote the stagnant,” he said. And “make sure we are not promoting based on seniority; promote based on merit.”

Still, Negle confessed that he would probably not seek a commanding officer role because there is too much bureaucracy involved in such a post, and he’s finding it frustrating to deal with the paperwork he must deal with at his rank.

Lt. Cmdr. David Ducazau, a Navy SEAL for nearly a decade who serves as a training officer a Naval Special Warfare Command, said more people are committed to stay when see opportunity to get ahead. “Choose people and promote people based on their character,” he said.

During a question-and-answer session following their introductory remarks, Ducazau, Koy, Mejia and Negle were queried about whether they felt some in the military might opt to leave because of the recent decisions to eliminate Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and to allow women to serve in combat. All supported the decisions.

“It has little or no bearing” on a person’s decision to stay or leave, Negle said.

Koy said his being gay “has had zero impact on where I was or where I was serving” and that he always has been treated fairly and with respect.

More Videos from our Conference

 

The final panel discussion of the day, Cyber Security: How Do We Balance the Cost with the Risk? was perhaps the best attended, even though many details were, understandably, lacking.

A 2011 article in HIS Jane’s Navy International noted that the to the Department of Defense’s cyber strategy states “low barriers to entry for malicious cyber activity, including the widespread availability of hacking tools, mean that an individual or small group of determined cyber actors can potentially cause significant damage to both DoD and U.S. national and economic security. Small-scale technologies can have an impact disproportionate to their size; potential adversaries do not have to build expensive weapons systems to pose a significant threat to U.S. national security.”

Rear Adm. Robert E. Day, Jr., assistant commandant for C4IT and director of the Coast Guard Cyber Command, said costs in dealing with cyber security must be weighed, “but I don’t think that anyone here will disagree on the risk equation. We all know what it is.”

He added: “The risk is there, and we have to close it.”

Brig. Gen. Kevin J. Nally, a deputy chief information officer for the Marine Corps, said secure military networks are paramount. “If you’ve gone on the Internet, you just have to assume your information is going to be stolen.”

 

WEST 2013, co-sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA International, concludes its annual run at the San Diego Convention Center on Thursday. Featured speakers include Gen. James F. Amos, commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of Naval operations; and Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr., commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

 

Connect with us for WEST updates!

Twitter hashtag: #West13 
YouTube: West 2013 Playlist
Blog: blog.usni.org and afcea.org/blog
Naval Institute app http://www.usni.org/app
LinkedIn:  Naval Institute Group 
Event Photos: Flickr West 2013


 
 

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