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[] AWST 28.04.03: Fast Forward,

Aviation Week & Space Technology
April 28, 2003
Pg. 34

Fast Forward

The Pentagon's force-transformation director takes an early swipe at what 
worked and what didn't in Iraq

By David A. Fulghum, Washington

Despite a "stunningly incompetent defense" by the Iraqi military, there are 
important lessons to be drawn from the conflict, says the Pentagon's top 
force-transformation official.

"Clearly those Russian advisers that [worked for Saddam Hussein] thought he 
had the wherewithal to mount a robust defense," said Arthur K. Cebrowski, 
the Pentagon's director of the Office for Force Transformation. Instead, 
major fighting was over in less than a month. "We create the appearances of 
an incompetent defense by being good," he said. "It's like watching a 
well-rehearsed football or basketball team. They make it look easy. That's 
the phenomenon you want." The U.S. and British forces moved around a 
noncontiguous battlefield "very much faster than anyone expected."

"Lessons learned" documents have yet to be compiled, much less analyzed and 
publicly discussed; however, areas of interest are already emerging.

There also are at least three lessons in the context of grand strategy, 
Cebrowski said. Great power politics are anachronistic. Instead, the world 
is divided among those who want to join in globalization and those who 
remain disconnected. "Disconnectedness is emerging as one of the great 
signals of danger. The department is going to have to pay attention and 
posture forces near such areas."

THE U.S. MILITARY will adopt a policy of continuous change and the 
broadening of capabilities and options. "Other people study us and they 
adapt," Cebrowski said. "The two Russian generals who apparently advised 
the Iraqis were posturing for something that would have looked like the 
first gulf war. That's exactly what we wanted them to do. I don't mind 
generals planning for the last war so long as they are all on the other side."

The growing implementation of "network-centric" warfare--what is destined 
to be a very long process--is shifting the sources of power. "We're going 
to see a new air-land dynamic. It's as if we discovered a new sweet spot . 
. . through the tighter integration of those. The process will be driven by 
better sensors, good networked intelligence, high-speed decision-making and 
the ability to exploit the noncontiguous battlefield, the battlefield 
without a front. You can't do the noncontiguous battlefield if you are not 
networked," he said. Most affected, he predicted, will be artillery 
support, close-air support and aerial battlefield interdiction. "The 
comfort level for [the use of] all indirect fires is going up," he said. 
"You see a new interdependency emerging."

Lessons in the tactical arena appear to include the lessening importance of 
helicopters on the battlefield, the increasing value of special forces 
skills, an absence of joint planning in several areas, the accelerating 
speed of command and control, a lack of strategic mobility and the growing 
importance of intelligence, he said. There are signs that military 
transformation is taking hold. The U.S. was able to surprise a foe that had 
about a year and a half to prepare for an attack and had hired Russian 
military advisers to restructure Iraq's defenses. Cebrowski highlighted 
other areas of interest:

*Special forces. "The broad strategic thrust of the nation is to move from 
being reactive to being preventative," Cebrowski said. "You have to be 
engaged around the world. The general rule is that small forces with a 
depth of local knowledge have more power than very large formations that 
come from [elsewhere]. That's been a strength of special operations forces. 
SOF also has ease of insertion and specialized skills. The question 
becomes, do you buy more SOF, or can you pull some of those characteristics 
into the rest of the force? I think we'll find the [latter] is the 
preferred alternative. The summary answer to what the U.S. needs is more 
SOF-like forces, a higher ISR [intelligence, surveillance and 
reconnaissance] fraction and more focus on the weapons of mass destruction 

*Information operations. "A dictator can't trust his information," said 
Cebrowski. Therefore, Saddam Hussein had to personally "script the whats 
and whens" of the war, and even then "he doesn't know if people will carry 
them out." Knowing this, the U.S. ensured that Saddam Hussein had no 
feedback loop about what was happening on the battlefield or even the 
activities of his own troops. U.S. specialists had identified these 
weaknesses before the war and exploited them, he said.

*Network-centric warfare. "There's a large collection of programs that, 
when cobbled together in a useful way, are meant to yield network-centric 
capabilities," Cebrowski said. But there is a pronounced weakness in 
connectivity at the tactical level. "What will be interesting [in analyzing 
combat in Iraq] are the differences in performance and tactics by people 
who were well connected at the tactical level, versus those who were not. 
Another question is who behaved differently and who reached for different 
tactics because they were well connected."

*Joint planning. The Pentagon will ask the military departments to identify 
their interdependencies as a way to ensure operational coherence. "There's 
a lot of work that has to be done [in codifying joint endeavors]," 
Cebrowski said. "We didn't find . . . such things as the joint operational 
concept, a joint transformational road map [or] a road map that integrates 
all the agencies. We didn't see a transformation road map for lift or for 
logistics that was integrated into an operational concept. There's a lot to 
be unsatisfied about."

*Strategic mobility. There were few innovations in strategic lift. "We 
think we need . . . to merge inter- and intra-theater lift," Cebrowski 
said. Two areas that look very exciting to transformation officials are 
very high-speed sealift (80+kt.) and airships. The latter is expected to 
lift 500-1,000 tons at speeds of more than 100 kt. The technology also is 
expected to have a major impact on the nation's civil transportation structure.

Another "missing" element was the wholesale use of operational maneuvers 
from strategic distances or from the sea. The big moves were from forward 
garrisons in Kuwait. However, analysts did see strategic movement of 
smaller units directly to their objectives; these included the 26th Marine 
Expeditionary Unit from amphibious assault ships and the 173rd Airborne 
Brigade from Italy.

*Helicopters. "We didn't see a very vertical battlefield [in Iraq] in terms 
of heavy helicopter lift," Cebrowski said. In rougher terrain, it might 
have been a crucial factor, so "we have to be careful to not learn the 
wrong lessons about tactical mobility," he said. "We're going to watch very 
carefully the developments such as the Boeing [unmanned] canard rotor. 
We're going to be looking at very heavy-lift helicopters." As to the 
vulnerability of attack helicopters, the question will be whether it was a 
result of the aircraft, the mission or the tactics used. "My guess is that 
it's going to be the tactics," he said. Early reports from the battlefield 
say the Army used its gunships as an independent maneuver force and hovered 
to fire, which subjected them to heavy ground fire, while Marine attack 
helicopters suffered less damage by operating with artillery and fixed-wing 
aircraft support, and adopting the tactic of shooting on the move.

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