Transformation chief focuses on 'last mile'

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"From the top down"

The director of the Force Transformation Office at the Defense Department today warned that America's edge in fighting wars could be lost if those involved in transformation focus too narrowly on technology.

Retired Navy Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, speaking at a National Defense Industrial Association conference on special operations forces, said the wide availability of low-cost and high-quality technology will lead to major advances but cannot be the solution to all transformational problems.

Technology "is the engine for not only information processing, but the engine for all the other major advances in science and technology," he said. "And not just in this land, but around the world. That means barriers of competition can fall."

Beyond that problem is the military forces' ability to work with one another. The lack of communication among the services in peacetime is amplified during war, Cebrowski said, lamenting the lack of "last-mile tactical interoperability" among warfighters when they need it most.

"We have to get to a single system," he said. "It's not a matter of who is supporting and who is being supported. We don't have the last-mile tactical interoperability and we don't have tactical upload...and we're going to have to get there.

"Interoperability is key. If you're not interoperable, it means you're not connected," he said. "If you're not interoperable, you're not benefiting from the Information Age, you're not contributing to the Information Age, and you're a liability."

As situational awareness increases, Cebrowski said the lethality of smaller, more independent forces will increase as well.

"We're going to get to high-quality shared awareness because that's where the power is," Cebrowski said. "We are done having a Marine Corps that determines what the most heavily defended piece of a beach is and then assaults it."

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