WASHINGTON, – Transforming the U.S. armed forces while still fighting a global war on terrorism is the biggest challenge facing military leaders today, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers said.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff delivered the luncheon address at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis and U.S. Navy-sponsored Fletcher
Myers said the war on terrorism is unlike any war the United States has
fought before, and this demands new thinking, new tactics and new
capabilities. “I would say transforming our armed forces is not optional,”
The military must transform to counter the terrorist threat and to meet
future unknown threats, he said. “We have to focus on the near-, the mid-
and the long-term capabilities all at the same time. That task is every bit
as difficult as it sounds.”
Ensuring transformation takes place is more than just buying new equipment
or upgrading technology in older equipment, Myers said. It requires a change
in culture in the military.
Military transformation does just entail harnessing technology, the chairman
said, “but I’m less interested in new and improved airplanes, or fighting
vehicles or ships that do the same thing we’ve always done. The real point
of technology is to give us new solutions and new ways of doing business.”
Myers used the Army’s Stryker Brigade as an example. The brigade takes its
name from the eight-wheeled vehicles that will transport infantry squads on
“But the Stryker brigade isn’t primarily about new vehicles,” he said. “It’s
about a new way of organizing a brigade. It’s about networked command,
control, communications, computers, intelligence, reconnaissance,
surveillance. It’s about links that allow commanders to see and share and
understand information about the battlespace.”
Commanders acquire a level of awareness of the battle impossible in the
past, he continued. The brigade is designed so that when the troops arrive
at a site and debark the vehicle, they have situational awareness that is
unrivalled. “It really is a whole new way of doing business,” Myers
The brigade is in Kuwait getting ready to deploy into Iraq.
Myers said transformation has to affect the whole of spectrum of changes. He
named an acronym to reflect this – DOTMLPF, or doctrine, organization,
training, materiel, leadership, personnel and facilities.
“We like to focus on the ‘M’ in there – the materiel solutions,” he said.
“We like to call that transformation.
But Myers countered with “a whole different view. I think there is more
transformation that goes on in the other letters in the DOTMLPF than in the
He said transformation is hard, mental work and must have an intellectual
component in it. “What happens between the ears of the warfighter and those
that support the warfighter is more important than the technology or
materiel piece,” he said.
Transformational technology does not have to cost an arm and a leg. He cited
the Marine Corps’ Dragon Eye unmanned aerial vehicle. The UAV looks like a
radio-controlled airplane you can buy in a kit. Add some sensors to it and
it becomes an invaluable reconnaissance tool for a platoon trying to find
out what’s on the other side of the hill or on the next city street, Myers
Breaking down the barriers between the services has helped transformation,
and breaking them down more will help in the future. At the beginning of
Operation Enduring Freedom, special operations forces on the ground had to
rely on aerial attacks from all services.
Myers said that required a “whole new level of trust and cooperation among
formerly disparate organizations.” The joint cooperation in Afghanistan was
excellent, he noted.
But Iraqi Freedom is the true joint operation, he said. The service
components relied upon each other on the Iraqi battlefield. Iraqi Freedom
also went beyond simple joint operations and included coalition partners in
a combined manner.
Continuing this transformation process is important. Myers said he is
looking to change professional military education to make it joint at the
junior officer level and ensure senior enlisted personnel receive joint
training. He is also looking at a very senior – lieutenant generals and vice
admirals – joint course for those men and women readying to command joint
“Understanding what transformation is and being committed to transformation
aren’t enough to make it happen for us,” Myers said. “We have to create the
right environment, an environment where people are encouraged to think
innovatively – that means taking risks and making mistakes and living to
tell about it – and turn ideas into practical solutions.”