by Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON � Forming a headquarters at the height of an international crisis isn�t the best way to do business, and the Quadrennial Defense Review suggested changing that situation.
The U.S. Joint Forces Command is working on the structure of a standing joint-task-force headquarters.
Overall, the QDR recommended strengthening joint operations in the U.S. military. America needs the services to be better integrated as it faces the different threats of the 21st century.
The days of setting up ad hoc headquarters once a crisis erupts must become a thing of the past. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld uses the experiences of Operation Allied Force over Kosovo as the prime example. By the time the operation ended, the headquarters had filled only 80 percent of its necessary slots.
"The after-action report from every joint operation has said we could have been much more effective earlier if we�d been a team when the crisis started rather than trying to form our team while the crisis was ongoing," said COL Chris Shepherd, director of strategic communications in the Joint Experimentation Directorate.
A joint-force headquarters would be much more effective if it�s formed and existing before a crisis because it will have gone through all those steps any organization goes through when it first stands up. Shepherd said initial experiments are looking at a 55-person core group for the headquarters.
Potentially, standing headquarters would be assigned to the various regional commanders-in-chief and be integrated with all aspects of the command. "The truth of the matter is, it may be more than one for each of the (commanders)," he said. "The key value of having this headquarters in place is to have a joint command-and-control element that has a tacit understanding of the battlespace where the crisis erupts."
The people in the headquarters must understand the people, culture, social relationships and economic linkages. "They must understand the whole ball of wax that goes toward figuring out what�s important to your adversary and how to take that away," Shepherd said.
It�s equally important to know allies and friends in the region and what each country or group can bring to the table, he said. Further, the headquarters would know who to speak to in other U.S. agencies or coalition governments to get important information and mitigate actions. That "reachback" is important as the United States faces unconventional foes. "The classic case you hear about was during the whole Yugoslavian crisis," Shepherd said. "The thought was, �You don�t ask a military officer how much money (Yugoslavian President Slobodan) Milosevic has left.�"
The JTF headquarters would be flexible. In a full-blown regional conflict, the CINC�s staff "would fall in on this core element of 55 people to form the joint headquarters and get a head start on finding a solution to the crisis."
But the 55-person cell could be employed in a number of different ways as well, Shepherd said. "If there was some kind of crisis that was less than a full unified command would fight � something like support to East Timor � the CINC could take this standing joint C2 element, place a general or flag officer in charge, then that headquarters could handle that crisis."
A medium employment of the standing JTF headquarters also is contemplated. This would be where the 55-person core element has a three-star headquarters "roll in" on top of it to become the JTF headquarters.
"The CINC would designate one of his subordinates as the JTF commander, who would then have other service components working for him," Shepherd said.
JFCOM already has a prototype called the Experimental Standing Joint Command and Control Element. "We do have a 55-person cell that�s acting as a joint-force headquarters for the various experiments we have ongoing between now and (Experiment) Millennium Challenge," Shepherd said.
Millennium Challenge, set for July and August 2002, is the next big test of the concept. The 55-person cell will serve as the core, and the Army�s XVIII Airborne Corps will be the JTF headquarters.
JFCOM will make recommendations on standing joint-force headquarters following Millennium Challenge �02, according to Shepherd.
Mr. Garamone writes for American Forces Press Service.
by Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON � The media have done a good job of covering the war in Afghanistan, but the coverage contains only "snapshots" of the military action, said Air Force GEN Richard Myers. The press couldn�t cover the broader, more important, issue.
Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told attendees at the Fletcher Conference here that the real story was the way Army GEN Tommy Franks and the entire U.S. Central Command team have choreographed and executed the overall effort.
The Army and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis jointly sponsor the Fletcher Conference. The theme this year is "National Security for a New Era."
"In my view, General Franks is an absolutely outstanding commander and leader, and he has effectively called on the strengths and unique capabilities the different services bring to this fight," Myers said.
Franks has bonded the services together and created the synergy of a joint effort. "This is really what joint warfighting is all about, and why joint warfighting is so important," Myers said.
He explained the best way to make coordination smoother is to field a joint force. This has to include interoperable weapon systems and interoperable command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. "If we�re going to focus on anything in my tenure, we�ve got to focus on better C4ISR in a way to give our operational commanders the tools they need to make decisions," Myers said.
Taking the lessons learned from Kosovo, U.S. military forces have developed much better interoperability, "particularly for fleeting targets," he said.
"In some cases, we�ve been forced to cobble together work-arounds because some of our existing systems do not �plug and play� in this joint warfight," Myers said. One example was the B-2 bomber�s use in Operation Enduring Freedom. The B-2s, based in Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., fly almost two days to hit targets in Afghanistan.
"If it takes you that long to get to the target, you�re going to have to have updates along the way. The threat can change, the targets can change � and they did," he said. "You would think a modern aircraft that cost as much as the B-2 would have this interoperability built in, but it doesn�t.
"They had a special antenna with a special communications setup that came to a laptop, which one of the pilots would hold on his lap. That�s how they did their communications and got their updates on the targets. Effective, but a lot cruder than we need," he said.
Weapons systems must be designed upfront with interoperability within the U.S. military and with coalition allies in mind. "We hear this term �born joint,� and that�s certainly what we�d like to do," he said. He said the military would not field new systems without this interoperability built in. The military will also upgrade legacy systems to ensure an effective joint force.
In another example, F-22s have superior sensor avionics that communicate well among F-22s. Unfortunately, Myers said, they can�t communicate with other systems. The Air Force is working to fix this before fielding the craft. "If a system doesn�t contribute to the joint fight, then it�s probably not right," he said.
Policies and procedures are also being changed to foster joint warfighting capabilities. Myers said he has high hopes for standing joint-task-force headquarters that would be assigned to every commander-in-chief. These fully staffed, ready-to-go headquarters would have robust command-and-control suites, be fully versed on theater activities and be able to interact with subordinate commands.
"What we�re really trying to do here is dissipate, as much as possible, the fog of war to allow timely, decisive action on the part of our commanders," Myers said.
Mr. Garamone writes for American Forces Press Service.
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