Sept. 8, 2009- Singapore Temasek Club
September 14, 2009
It's wonderful to be here. Last night when I flew in it was the first time I was able to look out and really see the strategic location of Singapore on the straits. I thought to myself what they tell you about real estate -- location, location, location. It was amazing to see all the ships lined up to get through the straits. Then I pulled out the map and looked at the map, and you're really in the center of a very very important region of the world. You're in a great position to do exactly what you're doing in helping to pull people, pull nations together in that region.
So it's wonderful to be here. I'm very honored to have been recognized with an award today from your government. Thank you very much for that.
What I'd like to do, as was advertised, is talk to you a little bit about how the American Army sees the strategic environment, and then how we are structuring ourselves or restructuring ourselves as an Army to deal with that environment. Then I'll just say a few words at the end about how we are reshaping how we develop leaders to lead in that environment. Because the one thing that is clear as we look to the future and from our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that whatever happens, whatever type of war we fight in the century that we're in, it's going to be far more complex than the wars that I grew up planning to fight. The more complexity falls on the shoulders of our leaders.
I know you've seen this, but when things become so complex that no one understands it, inaction takes place, and it's up to the leader to chart a way through that complexity and lead his organization forward.
So let me just talk a little bit about how we see the strategic environment and then a little bit about where we are in the Army. I'll give you a caveat up front. I'm going to talk about the strategic environment, but the one thing that we know conclusively about the future is that we will never get it exactly right. And the best we can ever hope for as human beings is not to be too wrong. So that's a key parameter.
So for us, we start from a perspective that as we are at war and we next month, we will have been at war for eight years. We're at war with a global extremist terrorist network that attacked us on our soil. We believe this is an ideological struggle, so it is inherently a long term struggle. And you are dealing with terrorist challenges in this area yourselves, and you know that they won't quit and they're not going to give up and they won't go away easily.
Against that background as we look at the trends that we see around the world, the trends appear to us to be more likely to exacerbate that situation rather than ameliorate it. What am I talking about'
Globalization. Up until a few months ago globalization was bringing increased prosperity all over the world. But unfortunately that prosperity was not necessarily evenly distributed. If you look in places in South America, Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, what you see is there are some "have "and "have not" cultures, societies growing up. The have not cultures are much more susceptible to recruiting by extremist organizations.
Technology is another double edged sword. The same technology that's facilitating collaboration around the world and bringing knowledge to anyone with a computer is being used by terrorists to export terror around the globe. We were having some discussions about how techniques that we were seeing in Iraq we're seeing in Afghanistan and they're starting to move into this part of the world as well.
Demographics. Demographics is in some countries pushing things in the wrong direction. We have seen studies that say 60 percent of the population of the world will live in cities by 2030. The populations of some developing countries are expected to double in the next decade. Imagine the population of Pakistan doubling in ten years with all of the challenges that brings to an already strapped government.
The two trends that worry me the most -- weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists, and safe havens. Countries or parts of countries where the local government can't or won't deny their territory as a safe haven for terrorists to play and execute, much as you had in Afghanistan prior to September 11th.
So as we look at all that, as I said, it seems more likely to make this period of confrontation last for a decade or so. I have been saying for a couple of years that I see this period as one of persistent conflict. I mean by that protracted confrontation among states, non-states, individuals that are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their political and ideological objectives. I think that's important for us in the United States to recognize. And while it varies in places around the world, I think that's something that all of us will have to deal with here in the coming decades.
The next point is that for us as a military it's not just enough for us to look broadly at the strategic environment. We have to look at how we believe war will be fought in the future. And I had this long discussion with my doctrine folks about whether the nature of war changes or it's the character of war that changes. They convinced me that the nature of war is immutable. It really doesn't change. But the character of warfare does change and it has changed over time. And I believe we are seeing another shift in the character of conflict.
And we can look at Iraq and we can look at Afghanistan to see the future, and certainly we draw something from that. But I think it's more instructive for us to look at what happened in Lebanon, in Southern Lebanon, in the summer of 2006 where you had Hezbollah -- a terrorist organization, a non-state actor; supported by two states, Syria and Iran; operating in a third state, Lebanon; and fighting a fourth state, Israel. This terrorist organization had the instruments of state power. Instruments that historically had only been the purview of states. They began the war with some 13,000 rockets - and not just the small rockets that they shoot at our bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the large, 220mm rockets they shot at Israeli cities.
They used improvised explosive devices to channelize the attacking Israeli armored formations into kill zones where they fired at those and hit them with state of the art anti-tank guided missiles. Forty percent of the Israeli casualties came from those anti-tank type missiles. They used unmanned aerial vehicles to target the Israelis. They shot down an Israeli helicopter with a state of the art surface to air missile. They hit an Israeli ship in the Mediterranean Sea with a state of the art cruise missile. They used secure cell phones and computers for command and control. And they got their message out on local television. Now that's a fundamentally different challenge than the war I grew up learning to fight.
So as we look at this, we're paying a lot of attention to what we call hybrid threats -- reverse combinations of conventional, irregular, criminal and terrorist capabilities all employed asymmetrically to counter our advances. We believe that that type of warfare is far more likely than state-on-state conflict.
I know we could never walk away, as a military, from being able to fight wars against other state armies ... we can never turn our backs completely on it, but one of the fundamental challenges we're wrestling with within the American Army is how do you reorient the Army away from the central principle that has driven us for 60 years, preparing to fight conventional war. And how do you shift that in terms of training, leader development, materiel development, organizations. How do you shift that to focus on the challenges that you will deal with' That's, quite frankly, that's what I do on a day to day basis.
We've done a lot of thought about that and we have come up with four roles for land forces, for U.S. land forces, in the 21st Century.
The first role we believe we have is we have to prevail in these protracted counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can imagine the strategic impact it would have on the United States for us to leave either one of those countries before we were perceived to be successful. So we have to prevail in those struggles.
Secondly, we have to continue to engage with other countries, to assist them in building the capacity to deal with these internal terrorist problems and to assure them that we will be a ready ally if something negative happens toward them.
Third, we have to be able to support civilian authorities at home and abroad. At home the primary leaders in the disaster relief operations are civilians, and we only support them. Our role in terms of security is very, very limited inside the United States. In fact we are not allowed to conduct any type of security operations inside the United States. It's something that goes back in our history a long time.
But abroad, we have to be able to engage with civil authorities so that they can provide the political and the economic and the information affects that allow us to mix them with our security capabilities so that we can succeed. Because as we're seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is all about the struggle for the confidence of the people. Unless they believe that politically their rights will be represented and economically they'll be better off, we're not going to succeed. So that ability to engage with civilians to produce those political, economic and information level effects is absolutely critical.
Lastly, we have to be able to deter and defeat hybrid threats and hostile state actors. So those are the four main roles that we're organizing our Army to be able to do.
We have in February 2008 published a doctrine called Full Spectrum Operations, and we say that Army formations will simultaneously apply offense, defense and stability operations to seize and retain the initiative and achieve decisive results. That's the central organizing operational concept for our Army. And we believe that we will apply that doctrine no matter where we are on the spectrum of conflict. We just apply offense, defense and stability operations in differing proportions. But no matter where we are, we'll need to do those three things.
The other thing I'll tell you is, I mentioned earlier about leaders. Let me just share with you what we say in Field Manual 3 which is our overall operational doctrine. About what leaders we need in the 21st Century. We say Army leaders must be one, supremely confident in their core proficiencies. If they're infantrymen, we want them to be great infantrymen. If they're logisticians, great logisticians. Communicators, great communicators. But be very good at what your core competency is.
Second, we want them to be broad enough to deal with challenges across the spectrum of conflict, and it's a cultural challenge for us because up to now the road to success has been through the operational force. If you wanted to command you stayed in battalions. That's how I came up. But now we're saying look, you need to get out of that operational force for short periods of time, go to work for another agency of the government, go to graduate school, go to a civilian institution, go to training with industry. Do those kinds of things that take you out of your comfort zone, but broaden and make you stronger, make you able to deal with a wide range of challenges.
Third, we want them to be able to operate with joint, interagency, and multinational capabilities and understand how to leverage others to achieve their success. One of the big challenges that I wrestled with in Iraq as a military officer is what do you do when you're faced with a situation when the keys to your success lie outside of your control' You put us in charge, you give us the resources and initiative and we'll do it. But with the embassy and with the Iraqi government I was relying on them to create political and economic effects to support my security efforts. But there was a sovereign government, and believe me, our foreign ministry doesn't take direction from the military. So I had to figure out how to influence them effectively to generate, as I said, the political and economic effects that I needed.
Fourth, we need to be culturally astute, and we're not. We are quite insular in the United States and we don't do a good job of preparing, in our public school systems, our citizens to understand other cultures. And just understanding is not enough. I say astuteness, because you have to be able to leverage that astuteness to your benefit, and you have to be able to understand the cultures well enough that you can use that in accomplishing your objectives. And I will tell you, we're building leaders that understand how to do it in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're a long way from institutionalizing that across the Army.
Fifth, we need to build the moral courage in our leaders to see opportunities and challenges and then to have the courage to act on them. And it goes back to what I said about complexity. Confronted with a complex problem, the initial reaction is do nothing. It's so hard, we'll wait until tomorrow to do that. When you're confronted with that in combat you don't have that choice - your soldiers' lives are at stake. So you have to have the intellect to see a way ahead and then the courage to take it.
Then lastly, we need our leaders grounded in our Values and in our Warrior Ethos. We recently, two years ago, set up a Center for the Study of Professional Military Ethics at West Point. We did that because from what I saw in Iraq, these environments are so complex and they place our leaders, particularly our junior leaders, in such conflicting moral situations that if you don't go into combat with a firm heading on your moral compass, it's just another degree of complexity you can't get past.
So those are the key elements that we're looking for in all of our leaders and we're aligning on our leader development programs to produce those leaders.
I've probably talked too long already. That's what happens when you give a general the microphone. [Laughter]. So I think I'll stop there and again just thank you for your invitation here, for the opportunity to speak to you, and I would be very happy to entertain any questions about anything you want to talk about.