Myers clarifies force transformation

Force transformation, the Defense Department policy that involves the armed forces' evolution into a technologically superior fighting force, is more of a process and mind-set than a product or technology, according to Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Myers said the warfighter's command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities are going to see added importance in the near future, and that will be reflected in the upcoming defense budget.

"In the end, C4ISR will be the key," Myers said. "Transformation is not just about words, and it's not necessarily about actions. It's really about results. As the '04 budget is unveiled, I think you'll see substantial money going into C4ISR, and I think that's a good input metric. If we use that money wisely, we can use Joint Forces Command to its utmost potential."

In addressing the AFCEA International's West 2003 conference in San Diego on Jan. 14, Myers told the industry representatives in attendance that force transformation has been too sluggish, bogged down by bureaucracy and the fact that those in power did not recognize its importance for too long.

To illustrate his point, Myers told the story of a father taking his son duck hunting for the first time. When a lone duck flew overhead, the father took aim and fired his shotgun. The duck flew on. The father turned to his son and said, "Today you're witnessing a miracle. There flies a dead duck."

"That has been a lot like force transformation," Myers said. "There has been a lot of talk, they'll take a shot, miss the target and declare victory. But in the end, what is needed has still not been delivered."

Myers said the argument has been made that the ongoing war on terrorism has led some to believe that transformation must wait until its conclusion, but he believes that now is the time when transformation can do the most good.

During World War II, smart people got together and invented the radar, providing a revolutionary defensive capability, he said. The advancement of technological tools is part of normal wartime operations, but advances are more than equipment and technology.

"Transformation cannot be all about new weapons systems," he said. "It's not about a tank with wheels and it's not about a plane that hovers. And it's certainly not about canceling a weapons system. Transformation is a process and a mindset."

He challenged industry representatives and the AFCEA to better understand the fighting force's needs, and move swiftly to get technology into the hands of those who most need it in the field.

"Technology can be a key enabler for the warfighter," he said. "We have shown what can be done in the past, but we can't quit or be satisfied. We must improve information sharing between industry and the war fighter. Their need will be your defining criteria for developing new products and technologies."

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