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Communication, Integration of Information Key to Jointness
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

PORTSMOUTH, Virginia, April 5, 2005 – The situation the military found itself in after Sept. 11, 2001, was one it was not organizationally prepared to deal with, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers told representatives of the defense industry attending the Industry 2005 Symposium that the military didn’t have the standing capability it needed for this new situation.

“Since 9/11, it is clear that we are in a new security environment. How we organize ourselves is very, very important,” Myers said at the symposium, co-hosted by U.S. Joint Forces Command and the National Defense Industrial Association.

He added that the military has achieved the halfway mark to that goal. “I’d say we’re kind of in the middle of this process of organizing ourselves to do joint battle,” Myers said.

A critical step in this reorganization was creating the Standing Joint Force headquarters, he said.

According to the SJFHQ home page, “During day-to-day operations or when a contingency requires establishing a joint task force, all or part of the SJFHQ element is assigned to a combatant commander and is embedded in his staff.”

This, Myers said, promotes communication and understanding between the services. For instance, what used to be a totally Army unit, may now have a smattering of servicemembers from other services. All of this further enhances the concept of jointness.

Another step to greater command and control is integration of information. “We’ve made some great progress,” Myers said.

He noted that in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002, sources of information integral to an operation weren’t even housed in the same building. When he asked at the time how information was communicated, he was told it was physically carried back and forth.

“It was not the perfect setup,” he said. “We’ve come a long way. Iraq was much better.”

Myers said changes in acquisition systems would help with moving information. Currently, four or five officials make major decisions on command–and-control systems.

The chairman said changes could be expected in this process. “Changes won’t be popular, but they have to happen,” he said.

They have to happen, he said, because it has never been more important to get integrated, coordinated information quickly. Troops need this capability to deal with the asymmetric warfare they are encountering, he said.