DOD joint concepts in question

"Military Transformation: Actions Needed to Better Manage DOD's Joint Experimentation Program"

The Defense Department's Joint Forces Command lacks some key management elements, and that makes it unclear whether its recommendations on joint experimentation will have an impact on military transformation, according to a General Accounting Office report released last week.

The Joint Forces Command has been the DOD's executive agent for joint concept development and experimentation for four years. In that time, the command has made progress in increasing joint participation in military exercises and experimentation. It also recently wrapped up Millennium Challenge 2002, the largest joint military experiment designed to see how well the critical systems of the individual services link with one another.

However, no recommendations from joint experimentation have ever been approved or implemented, according to the GAO report released Aug. 29, "Military Transformation: Actions Needed to Better Manage DOD's Joint Experimentation Program."

The Joint Forces Command issued three recommendations last year, but they were not approved by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) due to confusion among the Joint Staff and the Joint Forces Command about a proposed change in guidance requiring additional cost and timeline data to be included in the submissions.

"As a result, it is not clear when these recommendations will contribute to military transformation," according to the GAO report, which noted that the command plans to resubmit the recommendations this year. However, "several DOD officials expressed concern that the resource allocation process may be too slow to provide rapid and timely funding for the implementation of new concepts merging from joint experimentation and that other, more rapid resource mechanisms may be needed."

The GAO report made four recommendations to aid the command:

* Approve and issue guidance that clearly defines the information required to accompany joint experimentation recommendations for the JROC's review and approval.

* Require the commander in chief of the Joint Forces Command to develop strategic planning tools to use in managing and periodically assessing the progress of its joint experimentation program.

* Require that the Defense secretary develop quantitative and qualitative performance measures for joint experimentation in DOD's annual performance report to provide a better assessment of the program's contribution to advancing military transformation.

* Clarify the role of the Office of Force Transformation and its relationship to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Forces Command and other key stakeholders in the joint experimentation program.

The report was not entirely critical. It found that the command has increased participation of key military and non-DOD stakeholders, such as civilian agencies, academia, industry and foreign allies, in experimentation activities. The report also noted that the command had embraced videoconferencing, e-mail and the Internet to obtain input and integrated the results of military operations, technology efforts and other DOD organizations' experiments into its activities.

To further improve communications and participation in joint experimentation planning, Joint Forces Command will soon launch a virtual planning center on its intranet to provide DOD stakeholders with weekly updates on pertinent information. Requirements for the site will be developed this fall, and the project will be started soon after.

DOD received a draft copy of the GAO report, and the department concurred with its recommendations in an Aug. 8 letter from Christopher Lamb, acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense for plans and resources. Lamb's letter also said that DOD guidance documents will "address and clarify" the issues raised in the report.

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