Friday, November 20, 2009

Pentagon Reorganizing For A New War

The Pentagon is trying hard to reorganize itself for the next several years of combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Eastern Africa, the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

Military planners and politicians know that time, money, military manpower and civilian patience are running out. So the question becomes one of making the greatest impact with an alchemy of less funding, fewer personnel and the accelerating growth of advanced technology.

The newest effort is the U.S. Navy decision to combine its N-2 (intelligence) and N-6 (command-and-control) functions into a Directorate of Information, effective Nov. 2. It brings together a corps of 44,000 information professionals. The organization is a tool to bring cyber-war, unmanned vehicles, network architecture and other advanced components together in one organization--with an operator and warfighter perspective--that also offers flexibility and speed of change in technology.

"That [dispersion of capability] is what drove me to reorganize the headquarters of the Navy," Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, told an international military group at the Brookings Institution. "[The directorate] brings together information and moves some programs out of the platform directorates into information." Platforms making the shift include all unmanned systems and the EPX multi-intelligence/multi-sensor aircraft that is to replace the Lockheed Martin EP-3E signals intelligence aircraft. The Navy also stood up the 10th Fleet that will be the forward operator of cyber-attack and defense, and it also will determine how unmanned vehicles will support that effort.

The Navy is focusing on current conflicts, particularly Afghanistan and Iraq.

"What we're seeing is the desire for introducing new technologies into the battlespace that provides faster, more accurate, better information to the warfighter," Roughead says. "We need to fuse information and intelligence in ways we've never seen before."

Roughead also calls for the acceleration of programs, naming Northrop Grumman's Fire Scout helicopter unmanned air vehicle (UAV) as a successful example. Another concept to get a push is the formation of composite squadrons that combine similar type airframes from different services, such as the Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance and the Air Force's Global Hawk long-endurance, high-altitude UAVs, both built by Northrop Grumman.

Senior Air Force officials are repeating the joint service mantra.

"We have to capitalize on each of the service's core competencies and trust one another to develop what is unique to our particular [organization] to provide a joint force commander with the capability to integrate [air assets] and move away from self-sufficiency," says Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula, deputy chief of staff for Air Force ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).

Fast fielding of functional systems that fill an operational need is key.

"I would like to make that the norm as opposed to the exception," Deptula says. "An example is the MC-12W [intelligence-gathering aircraft]. The first aircraft was delivered in less than seven months. We are in an information age, but we have an industrial-age acquisition system. We have to become much, much more capable because our adversaries are not limited by the same sort of bureaucratic and legislative constraints that we have."

In a separate project, the U.S. is looking at single-engine turboprop aircraft that can be available quickly to provide the Afghan National Army Air Corps with up to 20 advanced flight trainer/light attack/reconnaissance aircraft. Variants of the T-6 Texan may be considered. The requirement is for an initial batch of six aircraft, with options for a further 14. The U.S. Air Force-managed program is looking for an off-the-shelf design. Equipment needs include common multifunction displays with GPS navigation capability and front-seat head-up display with air-to-ground capability as well as cockpit compatibility for eventual night-vision goggle use. The aircraft should already be certified for day/night VFR/IFR operations.

Like Roughead and the Navy, Deptula names information-age warfare as underlying the Air Force transformation of ISR that he initiated three years ago.

"Non-traditional threats [in Afghanistan and Iraq] are much different than what we faced in the past," Deptula says. "Small groups can produce the impacts and effects in ways that only nation-states had in the past. [As a result,] ISR is not just support to operations, it is operations," Deptula says.

Deptula suggests that ISR demand can be addressed in ways other than just adding more assets.

"There needs to be a way to validate demand with respect to resourcing," he says. "Part of that is integrating all the ISR capabilities that are provided by each of the service components to make sure that we treat ISR holistically from a combatant commander's perspective and to optimize what's actually available. We can't afford excessive redundancy."

The solution, Deptula predicts, is a new way of making war.

"We're moving into a different paradigm," he says. "What's forward on the battlefield is like the tip of an iceberg. You've got all these people back here [in the U.S.] that can do tipping, cuing and analysis without the burden of being forward, yet they can conduct actions as if they were."

Other Pentagon officials and law-makers are not as sanguine.

A senior Defense Dept. official who is providing equipment for Southwest Asia says the buildup of manned and unmanned aircraft for operations in Afghanistan is being crippled by a lack of aviation ramp space, personnel and sensors that can deal with terrain that bears almost no resemblance to Iraq. Also jeopardizing the mission are limited infrastructure, housing, specialized facilities and high-altitude runways. The last of those require smaller gross takeoff weights and longer takeoff distances.


A new term is coined as we draw near the end of this decade: hybrid warfare.

It's an [arm] race on an entirely different dimension. "Strength through readiness."

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