Pentagon seeing 2020
- By Dan Verton
- Jun 05, 2000
The uncertain future crept a little closer to the Defense Department last
week, forcing the Joint Chiefs of Staff to recast its one and only strategic
plan in a way the department believes will better prepare the military services
for the future high-tech battlefield.
When the Pentagon released its first strategic planning document in
1996, known as Joint Vision 2010, the goal was to develop a template that
would help DOD wage what has become known as network-centric warfare. The
concept put networks — with their ability to disseminate information quickly — at the center of the Pentagon's military strategy [FCW, Nov. 1, 1997].
Since then, the advancement of information technologies has radically
altered the landscape of the modern battlefield. The Pentagon has been forced
to expand its vision out to 2020 and look beyond technology for solutions
to organize, train and equip the next generation of warriors. The resulting
new document, Joint Vision 2020, attempts to define how IT will continue
to "substantially change the conduct of military operations," according
to the document.
The Joint Chiefs will use the document to define their priorities for
"The Joint Vision describes the future environment as we expect it to emerge,
not as we expect to create it, and [it provides] some general direction
for where we should be going," said a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of
Staff. "It builds on Joint Vision 2010 by refining it and extending it and
looking a little further into the future."
"Any time you have all the chiefs working together and defining where
they think we need to be going, it gives the services, the Office of the
Secretary of Defense, all the military leaders and the national leaders
a clear, concise view of where we're headed," said Anthony Valletta, former
acting assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications
and intelligence and a top executive with SRA International Inc.
Chief among the conclusions of the 36-page document is that DOD must
quickly find the right mix of new tactics, organizations, training and personnel
capable of taking advantage of the new technologies.
DOD foresees "profound" changes in the information environment occurring
by 2020. "Advances in information capabilities are proceeding so rapidly
that there is a risk of outstripping our ability to capture ideas, formulate
operational concepts and develop the capacity to assess results," according
to JV 2020.
JV 2020, however, places great emphasis on training and education as
a means to harness the remote power projection capabilities offered by IT
and DOD's multibillion-dollar investment in networks.
JV 2020 also incorporates the concept of information operations, which
traditionally has described the interrelated roles of such disciplines as
psychological operations, deception, perception management, civilian affairs
and various intelligence-related fields. But in DOD's JV 2010 plan, and
now with JV 2020, the term has come to include electronic warfare, critical
infrastructure protection and information assurance.
The inclusion of information operations in the new strategic plan represents
one of the key changes to the department's strategy as first laid out in
JV 2010, according to some Pentagon observers who say there has been significant
reluctance on the part of senior officers to learn what is required to carry
out information operations missions.
"Most military officers have never seen the Joint Doctrine for Information
Operations," said one military officer who requested anonymity. "Of those
that have, even fewer have read it."
Martin Libicki, a defense analyst with the think tank Rand Corp., said
the new vision does not provide the clear picture of the future that some
may have expected. But that isn't necessarily a plausible goal, he added.
"I am not sure we know enough to write a better vision than JV 2010,"
Libicki said. "Absent an obvious enemy and before experimenting with lots
of ways of taking advantage of new information technology, it is hard to
illustrate the future in any meaningful way."
Another analyst questions the value of JV 2020 altogether. "My concern
is what impact that has on everything downstream," said Ted Smith, president
of Top Line Co., a defense marketing firm. "If it is reflected in the 2002
budget, and in the [multi-year procurement plan], and if Congress supports
it, then it's good. Otherwise, it's just an academic exercise."