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Old 04-25-2003, 05:48 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool After the War Comes the Revolution

After the War Comes the Revolution

By Matthew Dodd

As the situation in Iraq shifts from combat to stability operations, news media focus is shifting towards the many other defense-related issues that had temporarily faded from public attention.

Let me share some perspectives on one very important ongoing, long-term issue that has not gotten the type of attention it deserved: defense transformation.

For those of you who thought the defense-wide transformation efforts were forgotten when war became a reality in Iraq, think again. In the second week of April, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld served notice to everyone that we have only seen the tip of the transformation iceberg so far, with the release of two monumental transformation initiatives.

On Apr. 9, 2003, Rumsfeld signed the long-awaited and much-anticipated Transformation Planning Guidance (TPG). Having reviewed the TPG myself, I agree with the secretary?s assessment of this important document:

?This document provides a clear, concise approach for transforming the Department of Defense. It identifies the critical elements of transformation, assigns roles and responsibilities for promoting transformation, and describes how the Department will organize to implement transformational capabilities. It also depicts the outcome we must achieve: fundamentally joint, network-centric, distributed forces capable of rapid decision superiority and massed effects across the battlespace. Realizing these capabilities will require transforming our people, processes, and military forces.?

The secretary also succinctly identified some of the major legacy arguments against and challenges to our transformation efforts, and shared his optimism about the Department?s ability to transform itself:

?There will be no moment at which the Department is ?transformed.? Rather, we are building a culture of continual transformation, so that our armed forces are always several steps ahead of any potential adversaries. To do so, we must envision and invest in the future today, so we can defend our homeland and our freedoms tomorrow. The Department of Defense is up to the task.?

My biggest concern with the TPG is that it is very long on transformational tools and products as a result of superior technologies, but woefully short on individual, small-unit and leader development emphasis.

I realize that this Defense Department document is written at the macro level, but it is at the micro level where the secretary?s ?culture of continual transformation? will be executed. From my experiences as a career military officer, the status quo is to discount and overlook this micro-level by assuming, ?We have the best-trained and most well-educated troops and officers in the world and they will figure out how to adjust just like they always have.? If we are not careful, that kind of benign neglect will have a ?termite effect? on the very foundation of any transformational efforts.

On Apr. 10, 2003, Rumsfeld completed his transformation ?one-two punch? by submitting to Congress his 205-page proposed transformation legislative proposals. Titled ?The Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act,? this transformation document is a long-developed compilation of reform ideas that have been floating around the Pentagon for the last couple of years. These reforms are generally focused in four broad categories: the Pentagon's personnel system, retirement practices, military assignments and administrative efficiencies.

Some of the far-reaching reforms on the secretary?s transformation ?wish-list? will:

* Authorize the secretary of defense to spend $200 million to ?assist foreign nations whose support is critical to counter-terrorism efforts?;

* Empower the secretary to waive laws that require the use of American-made products if they interfere with national security;

* Enable the Pentagon to award contracts on the basis of quality as well as low cost;

* Remove limits on the size of the staff in the defense secretary's office;

* Streamline the defense secretary's ability to spend money on the missile defense program;

* Eliminate the requirement for the Defense Department to make periodic reports to Congress on a host of issues (the list covers about 100 pages);

* Remove the four-year limit for generals and admirals serving in top leadership and command positions;

* Allow some high-ranking officers to retire early without losing benefits;

* Create two levels in the reserves and National Guard - one for long deployments, the other limited to weekends and two weeks each summer;

* Raise the military retirement age for active duty general or flag officers from the current 62 years to 68 years with a possible deferment to 72 years;

* Move as many as 300,000 military jobs into the civilian sector, freeing more uniformed personnel for combat duty;

* Allow military personnel to temporarily switch to reserve status for family or education reasons, and then return to active duty;

* Raise annual earning limits for members of the Senior Executive Service and other employees who are paid above the General Schedule-15 level, with the maximum limit being equal to the vice president?s salary, currently $198,000;

* Revise the procedures under which employees? jobs are protected during reduction-in-force (RIF) actions (to make RIF procedures streamlined and based upon merit rather than seniority);

* Revise policies and procedures for hiring, training and developing acquisition, technology and logistics workers;

* Provide the department permanent authority to offer early outs and buyouts to reduce the payroll, or to restructure the work force without cutting the overall number of workers; and

Taken together, these two Pentagon initiatives should dispel any notion that DoD transformation is merely a passing fad. For all those skeptical people who have watched the dedicated efforts of so many to finally bring these two initiatives into the public domain and who think that the hard part is behind us, the message is clear: you ain?t seen nuthin? yet.

Let me close with some final transformation thoughts from Secretary Rumsfeld:

?Some believe that with the United States in the midst of a dangerous war on terrorism, now is not the time to transform our armed forces. I believe that the opposite is true ?. Sept. 11th taught us that the future holds many unknown dangers and that we fail to prepare for them at our own peril ?. As we prepare for the future, we must think differently and develop the kinds of forces and capabilities that can adapt quickly to new challenges and to unexpected circumstances. We must transform not only the capabilities at our disposal, but also the way we think, the way we train, the way we exercise and the way we fight. We must transform not only our armed forces, but also the Department that serves them by encouraging a culture of creativity and prudent risk-taking.?

Our victory in Iraq signals the beginning of a true revolution in military affairs here at home. If you listen closely, the sounds you may hear are the status quo being shaken and bureaucratic rice bowls being shattered.

Lt. Col. Matthew Dodd USMC is a Senior Editor of DefenseWatch. He can be reached at


SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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