Via USNI e-mail: On Scene Report Day One - 2012 Joint Warfighting Conference:
Keynote Discussion: “Joint & Coalition Operations: What’s the Way Ahead?”
What lies ahead for joint warfighting, particularly as U.S. conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia are winding down and the budget process is trending toward military cutbacks?
Those were some of the issues raised the opening session of the United States Naval Institute and AFCEA’s 2012 conference on joint warfighting, as joint warfighting is nearing an inflection point.
Retired Lt. Gen. John R. Wood, the former deputy commander of the U.S. Joint Forces command echoed the theme of the conference and said it is “knowing what to hold and what to fold.”
“It really does seem that we’re at another inflection point but it’s not unusual that we are,” Wood said. “It’s May. Spring is coming, or spring is upon us. Summer is ahead and the budget season is playing out, no different than we’ve seen in the past and other times in history in which we’ve approached an inflection point at the conclusion or beginning of war.”
Wood called it the result of an 11-year cycle of war, but said something will come the fall that will determine the ultimate “way ahead” and called it similar to other historical events that signified other inflection points in these cycles – be it the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, or a terrorist attack like Sept. 11, 2001. (More Online)
Profession of Arms: How Do the Services Meet Tomorrow’s Expectations & News Challenges?
After identifying some of the changes in the landscape of joint warfighting, the second panel session of the conference took on meeting these challenges, with a renewed focus on the importance of the education.
The panel was moderated by Major Gen. Robert H. Scales, USA (Ret.), former commandant of the U.S. Army War College. He made the same points that were made in the panel, which throughout the last 200 years, the changes in the paradigm of warfare occur at the beginning and end of conflicts.
But it was Scales’ first panelist U.S. Air Force Major Gen. Thomas K. Andersen, the commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education that said with the budget looming, putting an emphasis on education is as important as ever.
“I like to say that we have to convince our bosses at the Air Force that education is an investment and not an expense,” Andersen said.
That so-called “investment” according to Andersen’s co-panelist, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John N. Christenson, president of the U.S. Naval War College, is important because to prepare for new challenges it is important to study human nature, which he says never changes.
“We study history, we study planning and we study cooperation,” Christenson said of the U.S. Navy War College. “Those are kind of the big three.”That cooperation Christenson said extends beyond just the U.S. Armed Forces, but with other nations as well. (More Online)
Luncheon Keynote Address: Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, USMC (Ret.) former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Giving an unusually blunt luncheon keynote address on day one was Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the inaugural Harold Brown chair in defense policy studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
According to Cartwright, it is an unprecedented time for the United States and its military because these circumstances have never been encountered in our nation’s history.
“We are in an unprecedented time,” he said. “Almost everybody that gets up here will tell you that. With 10 years of war under our belt, there’s really no precedent for that. In this country, we generally think of going off, we stay until it’s done and then we come home. That’s just not the case in this conflict. This conflict is really the first big and extended conflict of the all-volunteer force.”
Cartwright identified three areas that needed to be addressed going forward as the military meets this “inflection point.”
“One is strategy,” he said. “The other is the resource side of the equation. And the third is how in fact we’re going to make those match up, which sometimes is called grand strategy, when you’re trying to line up ends and means.”
But looming large over the military are budgetary issues and while much remains uncertain, changes are inevitable.
“While we squeal a lot about debt reduction and about how terrible it was, we were heading in that direction anyway,” he said. “That’s the reality. We do not want to talk about the next increments. We’re willing to say the word ‘sequester’ without saying we’re going to do anything different.”
“The reality out there – your crystal ball is as good as mine,” he continued. “Given any given month, it looks like there’s going to be a sequestration.” (View Full Speech Online)
Young Warfighters: What Lessons Are Worth Keeping & How Do We Keep Our Fighting Edge?
With the changes acknowledged and pending with our nation’s defense apparatus, is it possible under the circumstances for what remains to keep its so-called fighting edge.
Looking down the road, the moderator of the last panel of the day, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), asked his panelists how things will look in five years after the changes take place.
“I’m optimistic where we are going to be in five years,” Bowers said. “Everyone has heard, everyone understands that we’re going to have to operate the joint forces ahead of austerity. There’s going to be cuts. There’s going to be less people. We’re going to have less stuff.”
But Bowers explained that opened door for the armed forces to put quality ahead of quantity and recruit and train better individual as to he was optimistic.
Lt. Commander James “Cheeze” Presler said it would become more of matter of figuring out if these warfighters “want to be here” with these changes.
And despite these changes, according to Presler’s co-panelist Lt. Joseph “Grant” Thomas, the mission of keeping the edge remains the same with or without the cutbacks.