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Security Transformation: Report of the Belfer Center Conference on Military Transformation

Authored by Dr. John Deutch, Dr. John White. | March 2003

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Concluding Remarks.

The concept of military transformation is a powerful one. Historically, a new threat resulting from geopolitical changes has driven innovations in military doctrine, force composition, and technology and systems. We surely have the necessary conditions today: a turn from the Cold War to counterterrorism, along with the increased possibility of the use of WMD and the emergence of enabling information technology. We do not lack for a vision of what transformation can accomplish. For example, the Joint Chiefs of Staff publication, Joint Vision 2020, recognizes the importance of information superiority and precision engagement, as does the QDR and the National Security Strategy. A more comprehensive vision of DoD?s overall transformation goals would be valuable.

But because transformation is treated as a process rather than an end, it is easy to have the impression that transformation of our military is a slogan that is both everything and nothing. Because it is a process, there is an absence of a coherent framework for developing and implementing it. No clear definition of what is and what is not transformation exists. Accordingly, no metrics have been adopted, and hence there is no way to establish a schedule for accomplishing set milestones. Nor is there a PPBS category devoted to transformation to track the required resources over time. Furthermore, the JROC process remains much more responsive to traditional service needs, e.g., platforms, than to those of the CINCs who are more likely to reflect joint military operations needs.

Why has a sharper focus on transformation not been forthcoming? An important reason is the resistance of entrenched interests of many stakeholders?uniformed services, congressional committees, the defense industry? to change the status quo that is judged to have been extremely successful, although expensive, in maintaining our military superiority. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sees clearly the potential of transformation but has his attention drawn to many immediate problems, leaving only limited time and political capital to expend on transformation. There is, however, an essential unanswered question: ?Does successful transformation mean inevitable reduction in force structure and end strength?? The answer is undoubtedly yes, for two reasons: transformation can yield much greater military capability at a given level of resource expenditure, and the current desired military capability is unaffordable, in political not economic terms. The bureaucracy may well believe these propositions and accordingly choose to delay aggressively adopting transformation, preferring rather to play musical chairs with ever shrinking resources. If so, that would be a tragic mistake.