VCSA's remarks at AUSA ILW Hot Topic Army Networks

By Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. AllynMay 4, 2016

AUSA ILW Hot Topic Forum
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Good morning! When I last joined this great group, it was a wintery-cold January morning, and we talked about Army Aviation… and the future of Army Aviation. Now, we remarked at the outset that it must have been a slow day in Washington to bring in so many folks so early to listen to a breakfast speaker. But, now that I see another crowded room, it's clearly my charisma and wisdom that drives such a large crowd... word must have gotten out!

Well, we all know it's not that, so the Association of the United States Army continues to drive worthwhile dialogue, for our Army and for our Nation and we are all here because these discussions are hugely valuable to our future. The group assembled in this room is testimony to AUSA's proven capacity to convene the brightest minds, current speaker excluded, and focus them on the most important topics facing our Army. This reflects directly upon the great team assembled here at AUSA. To Guy Swan, thank you for your leadership, thanks for representing General Sullivan today and as always great to see you even if we are not at an Army football game. Thank you to our other distinguished guests, and certainly to the entire Association of the United States Army team that consistently pulls together an amazing set of panelists to lead focused, hard-hitting discussions. The involvement and candor of everyone in this room today is critical to the future of our Army, so thanks in advance for what you all contribute.

Before I do begin my remarks I'd like to say a special thank you as Guy mentioned there was an adjustment made to the schedule to enable me to participate in this forum so I appreciate the flexibility because contrary to popular belief, I am often not the master of my own calendar, but I was absolutely committed to being here to talk about this critical topic. As a Soldier of 34 years, a leader who has had the honor of commanding our Nation's sons and daughters in combat, and, like so many other Army leaders with multiple family members in the ranks of this great Army, it's really important how our Army partners with its Allies and friends to shape the security environment. It's important how we instill mission command in every echelon of the force, and how we build the right systems to enable our Soldiers to Win in a Complex World we find ourselves in. So, thanks for all that went into setting the conditions for today's venue.

This is a challenging time for our Nation and certainly for our Army. As we wind down from 13 plus years of war we all hoped that the world environment would cooperate and stabilize. The reality is . . . there is no "peace dividend" and those in this room need no reminder of the threats we now face. We live in a world where the velocity of instability is increasing, historically stable states are failing, and information flows freely across the globe, connecting like-minded criminals and violent extremists who are intent on undermining our way of life.

It is in this unstable and unpredictable world that our Army is called to lead. We are called to lead because our Army has the essential backbone that provides foundational capabilities to the joint, interagency, and multi-national force. It is only our Army that's capable of compelling the Nation's enemies through Decisive Action. But, more than that, our Army is called to lead because we are Trusted Professionals. The Strength of our Nation is our Army and the Strength of our Army is our Soldiers. It is the character, competence and commitment of our Soldiers that makes our Army the greatest land force in the world today.

Because of the brave men and women who wear this uniform, I am confident that our Army will fight and win wherever our Nation asks, whenever our country calls. Now, as leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure that when that call comes, {and it will} our Soldiers have the right training, the right equipment and the right leadership at every echelon to win every fight to which we're ordered. That is why we're here today: to ensure our Army navigates this time of transition well; that we deliberately think through the challenges we face, and act with foresight and a relentless commitment to innovate.

Transition implies change and change is difficult even in the best of circumstances… and if you've followed the news coming from Capitol Hill, these are not the best circumstances through which to navigate change. Yet, as I think about all that is facing our Army, I'm reminded of some General Sullivan's words from years back. As the Chief of Staff of our Army, he was fond of saying, "intellectual change must precede physical change." And, these words certainly still ring true today.

That's why the Army has published a new Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex world… to lead our intellectual thought process about our future. The Army Operating Concept guides our future force development by identifying first order capabilities, providing the intellectual foundation for our learning... and for applying what we continue to learn as we build our future force. It's the "intellectual force to drive change" that General Sullivan was talking about.

Critical for those gathered in this room, the Army Operating Concept recognizes that our Army will face networked enemies in the future: trans-national terrorist networks and nation states networked with guerilla and insurgent organizations… all leveraging physical and cyber networks to attack and degrade our systems and spread disinformation and propaganda. In future conflict, as in our recent campaigns, it will take a network to beat a this network. That is why the Army Operating Concept calls for the Army to establish a Global Landpower Network, along with our Special Operation Forces, Marine Corps and Allied Nations, capable of shaping the security environment, preventing conflict and enabling us to win when required.

The idea of a Global Landpower Network is not new. Throughout its history, our Army has fought shoulder to shoulder with Allies and partners of common commitment and purpose in every major conflict; from the mountains of Afghanistan to the sands of Iraq and from the shores of Normandy to the trenches of the Argonne. What is new about the idea of a Global Landpower Network is that it focuses not only on winning once at war, but enabling our Nation to achieve its strategic aims without the use of force. No good military speech is complete without quoting Sun Tzu, and here I think his timeless adage is especially appropriate, "The Supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." This Global Landpower Network is focused on doing just that. The Global Landpower Network consists of allies, expeditionary global and regional partners, and host-nation forces bound by the common interests of peace, liberty, regional stability, and global prosperity. It's a framework of relationships devoted to shaping the global environment and advancing shared strategic interests.

The recent deployment of company-sized Army elements to Poland and the Baltic States offers a rubric for what the Global Land Power network may look like going forward. With a relatively small footprint, our Army achieves strategic aims by employing trained and ready units, fully prepared for joint combined arms maneuver, that are adaptive and flexible, prepared to carry out a range of operations with partner nation forces. The presence of these units reinforces the reliability and credibility of the United States and our allied partners. When leaders of Allied nations train with our leaders and Soldiers, we assure them of United States and NATO support and strengthen their capability and resolve to shoulder their security responsibilities… while strategically contributing to enhanced regional stability. This is the power of a Global Landpower Network.

Any network begins with people. The first imperative for the Army network is to develop leaders of character; resilient, adaptable and capable of leading through change. Here, our Army is on the right track. The young Soldiers, Non Commissioned Officers and Officers operating across our force are truly impressive. Consider this example from our Regionally Aligned Forces support to Africa. Within 36 hours of putting boots on the ground in Camp Lemonier, Djibouti at the outset of their RAF mission, a sergeant first class, platoon sergeant, led a small team of non-commissioned officers to Burundi to train snipers for operations in Somalia. For six weeks, this sergeant first class and his team lived along-side their Burundian partners, with no Company, Battalion or Brigade headquarters within 2,000 miles… literally. His team adapted the prescribed Program of Instruction to match the specific needs of these Burundi snipers and interacted daily with Burundi army leadership and U.S. State Department representatives for mission guidance and essential support. This is Mission Command: an empowered leader, operating within the Commander's Intent to accomplish the assigned mission in support of national security interests. These types of operations place an enormous premium on the quality, breadth and depth of our Leader development efforts at every echelon.

The most important element of this story is that Burundi snipers then deployed to Mogadishu in support of the African Union mission. Over the last several years, these and snipers from other African nations, trained in coordination with U.S. Department of State, Special Forces Command, and our multi-national partners, have been credited with "taking back the night" from Al Shabaab in Mogadishu and helping to reverse the operational momentum of Al Shabaab throughout Somalia. This is the Global Landpower Network in action. Small units, led by trusted professionals, empowered by world class equipment and training, working shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners… delivering strategic affects.

Today, we have over 140,000 Total Force Soldiers committed in over 150 locations around the globe: some deployed, some forward stationed, some supporting overseas missions from home station. With our force dispersed, Mission Command is more important than ever; and Mission Command means more than the equipment and hardware we use. Mission Command demands a culture where competent, trained Leaders exercise initiative and operate with prudent risk within the Commander's Intent. It relies on leaders who are agile, adaptive, and innovative; leaders who thrive in conditions of uncertainty and [yes] chaos, and who possess the character and commitment to make our Nation stronger and our world safer. The Army network begins with leaders like this.

So as you discuss Mission Command today, focus first on Soldiers and their missions. The right technical solutions will follow. Science and technology must focus on delivering solutions that empower leaders at the lowest levels with relevant combat information, situational understanding, and access to joint and Army capabilities. These systems must be interoperable, improve situational understanding, and contribute to enhanced decision-making. It is essential to the Army of the future that we continue to develop and field advanced processing and analytic-fusion tools, decision aids, and simplified networks resistant to cyber attacks. I guarantee you our enemies are doing just this!

It is also critical that the Army does this work collaboratively. In a Global Landpower Network, interoperability is fundamental to all new technologies that we use. Army solutions that improve Mission Command must be interoperable with joint, interagency partners, and multinational allies. This is why our partners and allies are participating in future Force 2025 Maneuvers and looking to us to lead. We cannot afford to... nor will we… work alone across this increasingly unstable globe.

One final thought on modern technology from this old Infantryman. It is important to remember that in the current operational environment, technologies are easily copied or countered. What gives the United States Army a differential advantage over its adversaries is our skilled Soldiers and well-trained teams who optimize technology to achieve mission success. It's all about the Soldier. This is why the Army must continue to work closely with our industry partners to get new systems in the hands of Soldiers early and often. Their feedback is the most critical element in the development of technological solutions supporting our Army Network. By getting new and innovative technologies to the warfighter early, the Army can provide feedback to better guide the development process. If we expect our formations to take full advantage of the leading-edge systems we produce, Soldiers must be given the opportunity to influence their development.

This is why the Army and our industry partners rely heavily on processes such as the Army Warfighter Assessment and Network Integration Exercise process at Fort Bliss, Texas. Just this past May, I had the opportunity to witness the incredible power of getting a system into a Soldier's hands early and often. In the heat and dust of Fort Bliss, I watched the Soldiers and leaders of 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division conduct network-enabled, Combined Arms Maneuver against a world class opposing force, using new expeditionary network capabilities.

Now, if anyone has been around Soldiers in the field, you know one thing… they'll tell you exactly what they think… good, bad or ugly. This is exactly what happened. Soldiers identified key issues with interface and connectivity while executing mission command on the move. This critical feedback, from engaged, competent and professional Soldiers, allows the Army to refine its systems early, saving millions of dollars, and ultimately getting the best equipment out to our formations… and hopefully at combat speed. As we build the Army Network, concepts like the Network Integration Evaluation will remain at the heart of this process.

Lieutenant General Ferrell and his team understand all this and I'm glad he could join us today. I know he understands what we've discussed this morning because I've read his vision in the Army Network Campaign Plan, published this past February... and it's clear from his vision that he and his team are intent on bringing the Army Operating Concept alive by enabling mission command. Lieutenant General Ferrell and his team understand that the Soldier is at the center of the Army Network, that the Army must lead the transition away from Service-centric approaches, and that technological solutions must be mobile, agile, and survivable in order for our Army to win in the complex world in which we operate… both now and in the future. Thanks for your continued leadership on behalf of our Army. Our Soldiers are counting on you and those Soldiers who work for you.

I wish I could stay throughout the day's forums to engage in what I know will be a productive series of discussions. But… my leash is not that long and I've got to get back to the Pentagon before someone notices I've left the building.

Before I go, though, I will leave you with two guiding thoughts. First, our Army has led through change before and the challenges facing us today can be overcome with positive, innovative Leaders of Character at every echelon. Second, we are the greatest Army in the World. We are committed to remaining the best for years to come--and we'll do so as a Team, a Total Force, partnered with the great patriots serving in industry and government.

So I look forward to your questions, God Bless you all, Army Strong!