Admiral Expands on Iraqi
Freedom Lessons Learned
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2003 -- Capabilities to enhance joint warfighting
and to beef up intelligence collection, analysis and dispersion
are at the top of the "lessons learned" from Operation
Iraqi Freedom, the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command told
the House Armed Services Committee here today.
Navy Adm. Edward Giambastiani said his command placed capabilities
in three categories: those that worked well, those that require
improvement and those that didn't measure up.
Joint Forces Command placed people with coalition forces at many
levels. These service members assessed operations, technologies,
doctrines and personnel policies and reported back to the command's
headquarters in Norfolk, Va. This was the first time such a large
joint team participated in a lessons-learned action.
Giambastiani's testimony was not a systems analysis or assessment
report. "I'm not going to provide you with how many aircraft
we need or should buy, or what type of weapons platform worked
better than another," he said.
It was also not a review of tactical operations. "Our focus
was on the joint level of warfighting," he told the representatives.
Giambastiani told the representatives Operation Iraqi Freedom
represented a "remarkable shift in the way joint forces operate." The
shift is a new joint way of war that capitalizes on four key dimensions
of the battlespace: knowledge, speed, precision and lethality,
The coalition was able to capitalize on technologies and increased
emphasis on flexible thinking to bring the services together for
a new level of joint operations, Giambastiani said.
In the past, DoD officials said, it was enough to "deconflict" operations
-- to have the Marines working on the right and the Army on the
left, for example. This time, truly joint operations took place,
and American commanders were confident enough to handle the situation,
"There is no doubt that Operations Northern Watch and Southern
Watch in Iraq and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan greatly aided
in improving our operational confidence in the use of command and
control," Giambastiani said.
He said the experience allowed U.S. Central Command "to eliminate
many of the seams that were typical of ad hoc joint task forces."
The integration of special operations forces into the main battle
plan was another achievement. The admiral said that in Desert Storm,
U.S. forces had 30 Special Forces operational detachment teams
working on missions separate from those of the conventional force.
"In Operation Iraqi Freedom we deployed over 100 Special
Forces teams, and they were closely wedded to our conventional
forces and, in many cases, merging the capabilities of both land
and air forces," he said. "The net result is that we
not only had precision munitions launched from the air and ground,
but precision decisions to direct our smart weapons."
Giambastiani said urban operations, information operations throughout
the battlespace and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
are among the capabilities that need more work. He said these were
good, but that he would classify them as 60-40. "They need
substantial improvements," he said.
Among the capabilities that fell short was fratricide prevention. "Even
one death due to fratricide is too many," the admiral said.
Deployment planning and execution needs more work, the admiral
continued. "We could not provide the flexibility and adaptation
demanded by late changes in planning assumptions or other modifications," he
Giambastiani said reserve mobilization and deployment issues need
much more work. "We didn't do well by our reserves in many
cases, because we gave them short notice," he said. "The
challenge here is establishing the right reserve-to-active-component
He said he has been ordered by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff to examine the balance, and he has sent his recommendations
Giambastiani said the lessons-learned review was conducted with "ruthless
objectivity." He said all involved did this to avoid what
he called "Victor's Disease."
"This affliction arises from overconfidence and complacency
born from previous military victories," he said. "One
symptom of this disease is that militaries will focus on improving
military capabilities to fight the last war … instead of
anticipating and adapting for the future, which might be wholly
different, requiring new capabilities and clearly changed methods."
Finally, the admiral addressed what he called a fundamental building
block of the joint force capabilities: the command and control
"This is often presented in our budget documents as information
technologies, but they are far from that," he said. "They
are central to modern warfare."
The two main components are the deployable joint command and control
system and the standing joint force headquarters prototypes. "These
two capabilities build on our warfighting dominance today to ensure
that it continues well into the future," he said.