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Pentagon's Transformation Czar to Retire Because of Health Concerns

Reprinted with permission from InsideDefense.com

InsideDefense.com, Jan. 19, 2005 -- The Pentagon's transformation czar, Arthur Cebrowski, who has influenced thinking and helped shape policy on how to prepare for future military challenges, will retire at the end of this month on doctor's orders, according to his spokesman.

Cebrowski, a retired Navy vice admiral who has been fighting pneumonia for months, informed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld weeks ago of his decision to step down on Jan. 31, said Rob Holzer, spokesman for the Office of Force Transformation. Cebrowski survived a scare with cancer two years ago; his current health problems are unrelated, Holzer said.

Terry Pudas, the office's deputy director, will temporarily head the office until a replacement is found.

Established weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Office of Force Transformation and its staff of 25 oversee efforts by each of the military services to adjust their respective organizations, concepts of operations and procurement plans to deal with long-range challenges.

His office reports directly to the defense secretary, allowing it a measure of autonomy in conducting its critiques and making recommendations.

Among Cebrowski's chief efforts was articulating how the military is transforming from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. The pairing of the computer microprocessor with military equipment eventually hatched network-centric warfare, which Cebrowski said amounted to a "new theory of war." This theory explains how information, distributed across a military force and woven together via communications, sensors and computers, shifts emphasis in combat from individual ships, aircraft and tanks, and fosters quicker and more accurate decision-making.

"It is not about the network; rather, it is about how wars are fought and how power is developed," Cebrowski said in 2003.

In the wake of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cebrowski's office shifted its focus from thinking about potential high-tech military adversaries to thinking about non-traditional threats.

"He was advocating that we need to get off the focus on the big war and the big enemy. . . . He'll be one of the guys known for pushing the focus off China," said author Thomas Barnett, a former Office of Force Transformation researcher whose work with Cebrowski laid the foundation for an influential book, "The Pentagon's New Map: War and Peace in the 21st Century."

The Office of Force Transformation has championed investments in non-lethal technologies like Project Sheriff, an effort to package lethal and non-lethal capabilities for vehicles used in urban combat operations. Technologies from this endeavor are set to be fielded this summer in Iraq.

Cebrowski has also been an ardent champion of directed-energy weapons, as well as high-tech improvements to military logistics operations through a concept called "sense-and-respond" logistics. And he has advocated the idea of using air ships on the battlefield for hauling military cargo.

These activities have attracted interest across a broad audience. Software giant Microsoft invited him to speak to a group of executives, U.S. News & World Report last year named him a defense official to watch, and Scientific American recognized Cebrowski as a policy leader for his efforts in network-centric warfare.

While he is retiring from the Office of Force Transformation, Cebrowski does not plan to completely bow out.

Colleagues say he intends to speak in early February at a California conference, work with service chiefs on their strategic transformation plans and brief Congress on a study he's prepared on future naval architecture.
"His voice isn't being silenced," said the colleague. -- Jason Sherman

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