Academic journal article Defense Horizons

Military Transformation and Joint Experimentation: Two Views from Above

Academic journal article Defense Horizons

Military Transformation and Joint Experimentation: Two Views from Above

Article excerpt

Overview

Military transformation--"a process that shapes the changing nature of military competition and cooperation through new combinations of concepts, capabilities, people and organizations"--is on the minds and agendas of everyone dealing with the military. Many people talk about transformation; the two authors of this Defense Horizons have done something about it. In fact, they are among the few who have been responsible for shaping and implementing the concept. To get a better idea of what goes into this process, particularly the element of joint experimentation that is helping to identify and define the nature of change, Defense Horizons presents the views of two of America's leading military officers who have been involved in the process.

Admiral Harold Gehman, the last commander of Atlantic Command (before it became Joint Forces Command, or JFCOM) and initiator of the Joint Experimentation Directorate, presents a framework for how experimentation can advance the goals of transformation and clarifies terms and relates them to the tasks at hand. He also considers the role of the joint experimentation process, uses historical analogies to identify the prerequisites for successful transformation, and gives examples of where earlier attempts have failed and why. Finally, he shows how joint experimentation can help achieve success in our current efforts by minimizing conditions that have brought about failure in the past.

Moving from the theoretical basis established by Admiral Gehman to practice, Major General James Dubik, Director of the JFCOM Joint Experimentation Directorate, describes how the Joint Concept Development and Experimentation Campaign is an important catalyst for transforming military capability. He describes the "two-path strategy to innovation" being employed, involving Joint Prototypes and Joint Concepts and actionable recommendations. He leads the reader through how this process is working today to achieve transformation.

The Role of Joint Experimentation by Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr.

It seems impossible these days to pick up a military affairs journal or periodical without running into a discussion regarding something called transformation, often in association with a joint experimentation program. A sound joint experimentation program plays a crucial role in making genuine progress toward the goal of force transformation. A clear understanding of the scope and concept of transformation and joint experimentation is essential to useful discourse. However, much of what appears in print confuses rather than clarifies the issue. Before we can discuss the role of a joint experimentation program in military transformation, we need to agree on what transformation is. Once the meaning of the term has been settled, means must be devised to measure the effectiveness of a joint experimentation program in contributing to transformation.

Transformation Defined

While numerous definitions of transformation have been advanced, with dozens in use within the Department of Defense (DOD) alone, we will use the authoritative definition given in DOD planning guidance: "a process that shapes the changing nature of military competition and cooperation through new combinations of concepts, capabilities, people, and organizations that exploit our nation's advantages and protect against our asymmetric vulnerabilities to sustain our strategic position, which helps underpin peace and stability in the world."

Parsing this definition, we find some phrases worth noting:

* a process. That is good. Every speaker at every transformation conference in the last 3 years has said transformation is a journey, not a destination. Arbitrarily declaring where transformation is taking us would seem inconsistent with this agreed understanding of the process.

* new combinations of concepts, capabilities, people, and organizations. organizations. …

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