USA — Lynn Details Approach to Changes in Warfare

LOS ANGELES, April 28, 2010 — War­fare has changed, and the U.S. mil­i­tary must shift to meet the new threats, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said to the World Affairs Coun­cil here last night.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III
Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III explains the Defense Department’s adap­ta­tion to changes in war­fare to mem­bers of the Los Ange­les World Affairs Coun­cil, April 27, 2010.
Bildquelle: DoD pho­to by Air Force Mas­ter Sgt. Jer­ry Mor­ri­son
(Click to enlarge)

Lynn said he and Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates have tried to shift mil­i­tary strat­e­gy “to move the tec­ton­ic plates of our nation­al secu­ri­ty environment.” 

The Defense Depart­ment is doing more to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while still prepar­ing for future con­flicts, Lynn said. Past strat­e­gy, he told the group, did not pay enough atten­tion to cur­rent con­flicts, and the depart­ment has changed the bal­ance toward fight­ing today’s wars. 

The biggest change in war is that rogue nations, ter­ror groups and even crim­i­nal gangs can field increas­ing­ly lethal tech­nolo­gies, the deputy sec­re­tary told the audience. 

“Ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and rogue states seek weapons of mass destruc­tion, insur­gents are armed with [impro­vised explo­sive devices] that can pen­e­trate even our most sophis­ti­cat­ed armored vehi­cles,” he said. “We even see crim­i­nals who have world-class cyber capabilities.” 

The mil­i­tary must be ready to face these chal­lenges, he said, and still main­tain the capa­bil­i­ties to take on peer competitors. 

Anoth­er change is that wars, con­flicts, emer­gen­cies are longer than they used to be, Lynn said. The old strat­e­gy was based on fight­ing two major, near­ly simul­ta­ne­ous con­flicts. But plan­ners thought the wars would be like Oper­a­tion Desert Storm in 1991 – a pow­er­ful, quick war. 

“But the con­cept no longer fits our cur­rent real­i­ty,” Lynn said. “We are already fight­ing two wars, and it was­n’t the inten­si­ty of the ini­tial com­bat phase that proved the most chal­leng­ing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather, after eight years in those two con­flicts, we are find­ing the dura­tion of those con­flicts is what places the most stress on American’s mil­i­tary. These wars have now last­ed longer than the Unit­ed States’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in World War I and World War II combined.” 

War has moved more toward asym­met­ric threats. No nation or group can match the U.S. military’s con­ven­tion­al strength, Lynn said, so they don’t try. 

“Rather than fight­ing us head-to-head, they use IEDs to counter our mech­a­nized advan­tage or gueril­la tac­tics to avoid direct com­bat,” he explained. Some coun­tries also are invest­ing in weapons such as sur­face-to-sur­face mis­siles, cyber capa­bil­i­ties and anti-satel­lite tech­nolo­gies to deny U.S. access to battlefields. 

The cyber threat is anoth­er pro­found change in war­fare, Lynn told the group. 

“There is no exag­ger­at­ing our nation’s depen­dence on infor­ma­tion net­works,” he said. The Defense Depart­ment alone has thou­sands of net­works, mil­lions of com­put­ers and more mil­lions of com­put­er users. All major weapons sys­tems, the intel­li­gence and logis­tics efforts and per­son­nel pro­grams rely on infor­ma­tion technology. 

“The Inter­net is mag­i­cal in its abil­i­ty to con­nect us to oth­ers,” Lynn said, “but it is a two-way street. Over the past 10 years, the fre­quen­cy and sophis­ti­ca­tion of cyber intru­sions has increased expo­nen­tial­ly.” More than 100 for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices are try­ing to hack into U.S. sys­tems, he said, and for­eign mil­i­taries are devel­op­ing offen­sive cyber capabilities. 

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has called the cyber threat one of the most seri­ous chal­lenges Amer­i­ca faces, Lynn said. Cyber attacks threat­en not only the U.S. mil­i­tary, but also the Amer­i­can infra­struc­ture and econ­o­my, he added. 

Lynn said the depart­ment is address­ing all of these threats. The U.S. mil­i­tary is devel­op­ing the capa­bil­i­ties to han­dle the range of con­flict from low-end insur­gen­cies to high-end near peer wars. The mil­i­tary ser­vices are adjust­ing the way they recruit, train and retain ser­vice­mem­bers in face of long wars. And the Unit­ed States is work­ing to counter asym­met­ric attacks and to con­tin­ue to enhance asym­met­ric advan­tages of its own. 

The way the Defense Depart­ment buys equip­ment, pro­grams ser­vices also has to change, Lynn said, acknowl­edg­ing that the depart­ment has not been a good buy­er. Chang­ing the way the acqui­si­tion process works is an impor­tant part of fund­ing the capa­bil­i­ties to han­dle future threats, he added. 

To illus­trate his point, Lynn not­ed that Apple devel­oped the iPhone in 24 months. “That’s less time than it would take for us to bud­get for an IT pro­gram,” he said. “I’m seri­ous. Just to pre­pare, defend and receive con­gres­sion­al approval for our bud­get takes about 24 months.” 

Over­all, he added, it takes 81 months – near­ly sev­en years — from an IT pro­gram first being fund­ed until it becomes oper­a­tional. This means the equip­ment already is four gen­er­a­tions old by the time it gets in the hands of servicemembers. 

Can­celling pro­grams that don’t work, are redun­dant or are too spe­cial­ized is anoth­er way to shape the bud­get, Lynn said. Gates has made the hard deci­sions, he told the group, and the pro­grams he has can­celled or rec­om­mend­ed for can­cel­la­tion would have cost $330 bil­lion if they continued. 

“By exer­cis­ing pro­gram dis­ci­pline, we are able to direct resources to the high­est pri­or­i­ty pro­grams,” Lynn said. “These tough deci­sions enhance our abil­i­ty to pro­tect the Amer­i­can people.” 

The chang­ing envi­ron­ment places great stress on the mil­i­tary and the depart­ment, the deputy sec­re­tary said. “Suc­ceed­ing in these tumul­tuous times, while pre­vail­ing in Afghanistan and Iraq, will not be easy,” said he added. “But I’m con­fi­dent that we have chart­ed a path that will keep out nation safe.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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