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Facing the Future: Transforming DoD Is 'Constant Process'

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2005 Though he is charged with helping to lead the Defense Department’s transformation efforts into the 21st century, the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command believes the word “transformation” can be a misleading term.

“It indicates a beginning and an end,” Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr. said. “This is a constant process, and that’s why the word ‘transforming’ is actually a better word.”

Giambastiani, who also serves as NATO’s supreme allied commander for transformation, said that in the past 24 months alone the Defense Department has seen continuing change in the way it does business. And that change has been “significant,” he said during a recent interview at his command’s headquarters in Norfolk, Va., for the Pentagon Channel’s documentary “Facing the Future.”

“Inside the Defense Department we are now trying to transform ourselves, institutionalize the process and the product of change … to make us faster, to make us capable, to make us more operationally available, to make us more expeditionary, to make us adaptable and flexible,” he said.

All of this encompasses the mission he is charged with at Joint Forces Command, often called DoD’s “transformation laboratory.”

There, a staff of military people, civilians and defense contractors devise ways to enhance commanders’ capabilities by developing battlefield concepts, training joint forces, and making recommendations on how the services can better integrate their warfighting capabilities.

And, according to the admiral, integrating the joint warfighting capabilities of the military has defined DoD transformation efforts.

“The process and product of change we’re trying to bring here is to make our forces more integrated, more coherently integrated, so they can operate across a broad range of mission sets: peacekeeping, peacemaking, contingency operations, peace support, major combat operations, small-scale contingencies -- you name it,” he said.

“We found that the sum of all of the individual components within the Defense Department … when you integrate all of these in a coherent way, the sum is far greater than what each of the individual parts would add up to. That’s what we call integration.”

That equation seems to have added up, as Giambastiani emphasized integration efforts among services has been successful during joint operations in Iraq.

The admiral used the November 2004 battle to take back control of Fallujah as an example. He pointed out that the fighting there consisted of Marine expeditionary forces, two Army brigade combat teams, and five battalions of Iraq army and security forces, as well as Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps aviation units.

“This was a very close-packed area, an urban area, and they were conducting joint operations down to the absolute lowest level,” he noted. “If you’re a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine, and you are conducting an operation, and let’s say you need a target taken out, you don’t much care who takes out that target as long as the mission gets accomplished. That is the definition, in my view, of jointness.”

That definition has an important meaning within DoD, particularly from an operational standpoint, where in the past two years the Pentagon created more joint task force headquarters than it did in the previous 10 years combined.

“And we are creating more of these JTF headquarters each and every year,” he added. The admiral pointed out that military training also has undergone important change.

“Before in the Defense Department, war games were essentially just done by services, and they would sprinkle in joint entities,” Giambastiani explained. Now, he said, fundamentally the services are cooperating and co-hosting war games with Joint Forces Command. “I am co-hosting with the chief of a service, a joint war game which the Army and the Joint Forces Command come together to play,” he said. “Primarily, the majority of people in it are actually joint.

“We do it with the Navy, we do it with the Marine Corps, we’ve done it with the Air Force, we’re doing it with agencies such as a National Reconnaissance Office, we’ve done it with other combatant commanders,” he said. “It’s pretty darn significant.”

More jointness and integration is only part of the transformation process within DoD -- a beginning and not an end to the constant process of change for the 21st century, the admiral said.

“I see us moving in the future to this coherently integrated force that is mutually interdependent, that allows us to collaborate in a way that we just haven’t been able to describe the power of to date,” Giambastiani said. “To allow us to achieve what we call ‘outcomes on the battlefield,’ or outcomes in the case of contingency operations, or post-major combat, allow us to achieve outcomes which create success for the United States and our coalition and allied partners.”

Still, he added, there is “a lot of work to do yet, a long way to go.”

“But the process, in my view of transformation, has accelerated here over the last couple of years, and it’s been significant,” he said.

Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., USN

Related Sites:
Facing the Future Booklet
U.S. Joint Forces Command