American Forces Press Service

Myers Says Joint Capabilities, Transformation Key to 21st Century War

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2002 -- DoD's top uniformed officer told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that the country must invest in its military to maintain the quality of the force and to fulfill U.S. obligations around the world.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in testimony that the best ways for the military to accomplish its goals are to improve U.S. joint war-fighting capability and to embrace transformation.

Myers said the U.S. military has come a long way in recent years to becoming a truly joint force and pointed to current operations in Afghanistan as proof of the progress. But U.S. forces can do more, he said.

He used interoperability as an example. The Navy took a single-service platform, the P-3 Orion aircraft, which started life as a Cold War Navy submarine hunter, and equipped it with new data links and sensors. The Orion is now interoperable with Air Force, Marine, Army and Navy facilities.

"That they all worked together is a tribute to the ingenuity of all the people involved," Myers said. But defense and service planners need to ensure that new systems are conceived, designed and produced with joint warfighting requirements in mind.

"To do that, we need to change our thinking, to look at new systems as interchangeable modules that can plug and play in any situation and in any command arrangement, he said. "We've put a lot of effort into our ability on the tactical level, like the modifications of the P-3 ., but we must also concentrate on the operational level of warfare, where organizational and process improvements are just as important."

He said command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance comprise the area with the greatest potential payoff for America. "By improving our C4ISR, we can ensure our commanders have the best information available for rapid battlefield decision- making," Myers said.

Transformation feeds DoD's striving toward jointness. "For me, transformation is simply fostering changes that result in a dramatic improvement over time in the way a combatant commander wages war," Myers said. "I'm convinced that our force structure requires better flexibility and adaptability to achieve our national security objectives."

He said transformation would require changes "in how we think and how we employ our capabilities to achieve more effective results in less time with fewer lives lost and with less cost." True transformation must include training, education, doctrine and organizations, he said.

Transformation often is not a sudden breakthrough but the result of incremental improvements, he said. "When I was flying F-4s in Vietnam, we lost a lot of airplanes and pilots trying to destroy single targets like bridges and anti-aircraft sites," he said. "We had to put a lot of people in harm's way to get the job done because our weapon systems weren't very accurate.

"So we developed laser-guided bombs and found a way to steer them to the target," he continued. "Nevertheless, we still had to have relatively good weather because you had to see the target to be able to put the laser-guided bomb on the target." Aircraft and crew still had to go into harm's way to put the bombs on target, but there was a significant improvement in bombing accuracy.

"Now . we've got bombs that are impervious to the weather conditions, that steer themselves using satellite-generated Global Positioning System signals," he said. "Let me also point out that when the Global Positioning System was being developed and first deployed, no one was talking about using it for bombing. It was seen as a better navigational tool.

"So essentially we've linked incremental improvements in several different technologies to achieve today our precision-strike capability, with accuracy that I believe amounts to truly transformational change."

He said transformation made for more accurate bombing, but it went beyond. "The real transformation is . we have advanced from needing multiple sorties to strike one target to using one sortie to strike multiple targets," Myers said. "There's also been a transformation in our thinking. Bombs are no longer regarded as solely area weapons. Instead they can be used like bullets from a rifle, aimed precisely and individually."

Myers told the committee that U.S. forces remain the most powerful and the best trained in the world. "We've made tremendous strides in recent years, providing our people a comprehensive set of quality-of-life improvements, especially in the areas of pay and housing and healthcare," he said. "The quality of life also includes adequate training, modern equipment, modern infrastructure and adequate spare parts.

"I ask that we continue to keep faith with both our active and reserve component members, as well as our retirees," he continued. "Sustaining the quality of life of our people is crucial to recruiting, crucial to retention, and especially crucial to our readiness to fight. But more important, it's the right thing to do for our heroes who, this very minute, are serving in harm's way, defending our freedom. They're the practitioners of joint warfighting and the creators of transformation. They make things happen and should always be our top priority."

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