IDGA NWC 2009 Conference
28 January 2009
Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, D.C.
Final Version as Delivered


Thank you - it's great to be here!

As all of you know, it has been a busy time for our nation's military. We are at war... we've been at war for the past seven-plus years. And, that's put a strain on our resources - people and equipment. In spite of this - I continue to be amazed at the resiliency of the Force.

I've spent some time in Iraq, but what I know is dated. Once out of country for 48 hours, what you know is history in Iraq because things change so fast. I first commanded the 1st Cavalry Division in 2004-5 and the Multi-National Corps - Iraq all of 2006.
During short trips back the last two years, I've seen firsthand the tremendous progress being made there... and, I'm incredibly proud of all that we've accomplished.
Certainly, we've had our share of good and bad experiences.... And, our military has learned invaluable lessons from those experiences.

But, I believe the overarching theme that's come out of OIF and OEF is that warfare - as we know it - has changed forever. The "three-block war" introduced by Chuck Krulak 10 years ago has become a reality. Soldiers inside of three blocks - in Baghdad, Basara, Mosul, and all over Afghanistan - have become versed and agile enough to balance offense, defense... and stability operations in a week, a day, or even hours.

Today, warfare is a combination of kinetic and non-kinetic effects. In fact, what we call "soft power" - economics, diplomacy, communication - holds equal weight. It's all part of a changing strategy we refer to as "Full Spectrum Operations".

Now, I'm not saying the next war is going to be the same as the ones we're fighting today; however, I do believe what comes next will be more like today's fights than yesterday's.

And, these three trends will make it so:
- Exploding populations and urbanization
- Some people say by the end of this year, 50% of the world's population will reside in urban areas. {Story of getting Iraq mission and being told to put your entire Division into Baghdad}
- Technology leading to globalization and, finally, the rise of Extremism

In this new strategic environment, Soldiers must be prepared for the full range of operations, from high intensity conflict... to counterinsurgency... to peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. Why' Because the environment we operate in now is increasingly dynamic. And, even the most seemingly benign situations can change or escalate in a matter of minutes.

And, it's usually the Army's junior officers, NCOs, and enlisted Soldiers who are on the ground dealing with these situations when they do arise. How these young men and women respond in those first few seconds, minutes, or hours can influence the outcome - either good or bad.

In other words, it's no longer realistic to assume all - or even the majority - of "game-changing" decisions will be made at senior levels of command.
To the contrary, those decisions are more often made by the individual Soldier on the ground. And, Krulak coined the term "Strategic Corporal" to reflect this new reality...

He pointed out that Soldiers, today, under the constant eye of the media, are asked to exercise a tremendous degree of maturity, restraint, and judgment. They're having to bear significantly greater responsibility than Soldiers in past generations.

In the last few years, the Army has had to make many adjustments in order to meet the challenges of this new strategic environment - including changes to our knowledge- and intelligence-gathering processes.

Think of it as a pyramid. In the past, the pyramid was inverted.... most information was gathered by national intelligence sources, such as satellite feeds, high-altitude UAVs, and other sophisticated ISR assets. The information was then analyzed at the most senior-levels and filtered down to the user through command directives - usually 48 hours later than they needed to be.

Now, the pyramid has flipped. Significantly more information is gathered and analyzed by troops on the ground. And, the intelligence collected by national-level assets is also pushed down to the unit level for immediate use or further analysis and real-world application by the Soldiers and small units on the ground who own those three blocks.

Over the last few years, the Army's made great progress in adjusting to this new paradigm, this new reality. Although significant challenges do still remain.

We have all sorts of great capabilities - which I'll talk more about later - however, the reality is the policies we've implemented often make it impossible to use these systems to their full potential. Let me give you an example....

We now have the ability to push the Common Operating Picture, or COP, down to the lowest levels through Land Warrior and, soon, Ground Soldier Ensemble. But, then we classify what is of little intelligence value in such a way that it prevents the Soldiers at the Team Leader-level and below from accessing it. And why' Clearly this is fleeting information of little tactical value seconds after it is generated. But, these Soldiers need it in order to avoid fratricide and maintain situational awareness in a difficult environment.

Meanwhile, we've also been challenged to find ways to better facilitate information exchange across the small unit level.

I'll give you another example.....

In the past, two units might end up in the same location - one of the units may have gotten lost or delayed by circumstances. Well, the unit or individual that was assigned to that particular location and not expecting company is often taken by surprise. For centuries, this type of battlefield fog or friction has led to fratricide. And, it is amazing now that we have the ability to avoid fratricide, but misguided policy may deny the solution to those who need the information.

Making sure knowledge and information is widely disseminated at the unit level - and beyond - is critical.

And, over the last few years, the Army has developed several technologies to help with this. Situational awareness tools like Blue Force Tracker (BFT) and Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade-and-Below (FBCB2) are improving Soldiers ability to operate freely and safely on a crowded battlefield.

But, what we also realized from these experiences is that Soldiers at the unit level need context in order to understand this information and make better decisions.

That was why, when I was the 1st Cavalry Division Commander, I deployed with CPOF.... the experimental command and control system developed by DARPA that enables distributive and, more importantly, collaborative command and control.

In the past, I would've called all of my Brigade Commanders to the Division HQs to issue an operations order and make sure my intent was clearly understood. This required many of them to fly or drive across Baghdad.

This collaborative capability of CPOF allowed me to convey my intent to the Commanders without requiring them to make the trip across a city of 7 million people - thus saving time and possibly even lives in the process.

Another thing we learned during our first few months in Iraq was how fast the enemy was learning from us, but how slowly our processes were transferring knowledge and information internal to our organization.

To address this challenge, we implemented CAVNET, a knowledge transfer system - similar to a messaging board - that allowed squad leaders, platoon leaders, and company commanders to immediately share enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) from the last patrol with their counterparts.

Out of Blue Force Tracker, FBCB2, and the innovative ideas of CPOF and CAVNET emerged an even more critical system for this new kind of war, called the Tactical Ground Reporting system or TIGR.

For those of you who don't know, TIGR is a virtual notebook, with significant events, pictures, video, census data, infrastructure, and personal observations made real-time by Soldiers on the ground.

It allows other Soldiers to tap these virtual notebooks, review the material, gain valuable context, and then draw their own conclusions. This amazing system arms the Strategic Corporal with exactly what he needs - the best knowledge and information available.

Initially, as you'd expect - this system was met with great resistance... the Signal Corps guys said it couldn't be done because it would take too much bandwith... the MI community argued a sufficient system already existed in ASAS {a system I call the worst website I've ever tried to get in}... and, CENTCOM complained that it was redundant to other systems - like CIDNE, the secure internet host site used to catalogue data on people, facilities, and organizations.

Unfortunately, this resistance is characteristic of the Services. As an institution, our military consistently puts up many of the biggest barriers to making meaningful and needed change.

Fortunately, within two years... because Soldiers demanded it... TIGR was in use in Iraq where it immediately began paying tremendous dividends. And, today, 17 combat brigades in Iraq and Afghanistan are equipped and using the system.

Systems - like CAVNET, CPOF, and TIGR - are by no means perfect solutions. In fact, they're probably closer to the 75% solution than to the 95% solution. However, as the old expression goes: "The perfect is the enemy of the good enough."
Instead of waiting several years for the 95% solution, we should be striving to get the best possible solution ... out the door to the operational force as quickly as possible.

Secretary Gates said it at NDU last September:

"The Department of Defense's conventional modernization programs seek a 99 percent solution over a period of years. Stability and counterinsurgency missions require 75 percent solutions over a period of months. The challenge is whether these two different paradigms can be made to coexist in the U.S. military's mindset and bureaucracy."

Part of the problem is that, although warfare as we know it has changed forever, the industrial-based procurement process designed to support it has remained largely unchanged for nearly fifty years.

The process was developed in peacetime - during the Cold War - when it was considered perfectly acceptable for the procurement of a major weapon system to be measured in terms of decades.

But, circumstances have changed since then - in fact, they've changed significantly. {3G iPhone story....}

In the past, the acquisition process was able to keep pace with technology. However, that's not the case today, and our Soldiers can't afford to sit and wait.

The shortfalls they're identifying on the battlefield can often mean life or death for them. And so, we have an obligation to find solutions and deliver them as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, we have found ways to work around this process in the short-term....
The Army's Rapid Equipping Force, or REF, for example.... is an organization that has helped to address specific capability shortfalls... by canvassing government, industry, academia, and the scientific community for existing or emerging technologies ... and providing limited quantities of the best available off-the-shelf equipment to the Warfighter as quickly as possible.

To date, REF has introduced over 550 different types of equipment and provided more than 75,000 items to units in Iraq and Afghanistan. These technologies have included remotely-operated cameras... explosive material detectors... Green Lasers... lighter machine guns in Afghanistan... and, mini-unmanned aerial vehicles.

REF has essentially streamlined the procurement process to focus less on defining requirements and more to finding point solutions to capability shortfalls on the battlefield. It provides a great model for how we might improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the current procurement system in the future to better address the strategic construct of persistent engagement. The challenge is figuring out how to do so without losing flexibility.

{Camp Atterbury visit}

Being able to quickly address some of our most critical capability shortfalls has directly impacted our success on the battlefield. By procuring "COTS", or "Commercial Off The Shelf" products, like MRAP, for example... we have saved arms... legs... even the lives of countless Soldiers.

And, the real credit for that particular decision belongs with Secretary Gates, who finally said, "Enough!... we are going to get these things to the field - Now." He did the same with ISR - significantly increasing the number of UAV Orbits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over the last several years, we've been able to field many of these critical capabilities in a matter of months versus years.... primarily through the use of Supplementals.

But, the reality is - Supplementals aren't a practical, long-term solution to the problems with our current procurement process. In fact, even now we're starting to see the corporate antibodies kicking in when we talk about the sustainability of the MRAPs over time, because it's not a program of record.

We must determine a long-term fix to this problem. We need a system that captures the best of both worlds... the accountability of the current procurement system... with the flexibility that the Supplementals have provided us in this rapidly changing strategic environment.

It won't be easy.... Quite frankly, the current process is too imbedded in the DNA of Congress, the Defense Department, and Industry - we're part of the problem!
But, we have to fix this problem if we're going to be able to properly equip our Army in the future.

The bottom line is this... If we want to stay relevant and effective in this new strategic environment, we must stay ahead of the technology. And, we should assume our enemies are doing the same.

We must also ensure that we're using the knowledge and information that's available through advances in technology as effectively as possible. After all, "Knowledge is power."

Finally, individual Soldiers on the ground will likely be the ones making most of the "game-changing decisions" in this new strategic environment. And, many of these decisions will have to be made in matter of minutes or hours - not weeks or months, as was the case in past wars.

In this the era of the Strategic Corporal, and our job is to ensure these young Soldiers have everything they need - the training, the information, the equipment - the confidence - to be safe - and successful in their mission.

Thanks again for the great opportunity to be here today.

Army Strong.

Page last updated Tue February 17th, 2009 at 18:11