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[infowar.de] AWST 28.04.03: Fast Forward
Aviation Week & Space Technology
April 28, 2003
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
"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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