(Participating were Lawrence Di Rita, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, and Army Brig. Gen. Robert W. Cone, director, Joint Center for Lessons Learned, U.S. Joint Forces Command. Slides shown during the briefing are located HERE.)
Di Rita: Good afternoon. We have an opportunity today -- and I'm grateful for General Cone's willingness to do this. General Bob Cone is from the Joint Forces Command. He is going to provide for you sort of a snapshot summary of the work that we did under the leadership of Admiral Giambastiani at the Joint Forces Command to provide for a fairly broad-based lessons-learned activity that took place in the context of the development and execution of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Admiral Giambastiani testified -- and General Cone, as a matter of fact -- today before the House Armed Services Committee. And we asked him to come on over here and provide a little bit of an outline for you. And we'll take some questions after that.
So, I do thank General Cone for being here, and I'll just turn it over to him, and he's got a prepared brief, and then we'll take some questions.
Cone: Afternoon. I'm pleased to be here. I think we had a good session this morning on the Hill. And I'm here to talk really about the lessons-learned effort that's been ongoing at Joint Forces Command. And today's briefing is focused on the major combat operations phase of this operation, really on activities through the 1st of May. And the reason we did it that way is, basically, we think that there are some important lessons that we want to get out to basically the combatant commanders and get into the programmatics process, et cetera. So we've basically taken that, and that's the subject of today's briefing. And I will not be able to discuss any of the post-MCO discussion at this point.
The structure of the briefing I'm going to give; I'll talk a little bit about methodology. We did something completely different here. I think I had the opportunity in early June to talk about what we -- how we had gone about doing things, which is truly different. And then I'll talk a little bit about context, which I think is very important when you consider this conflict compared to other conflicts. And then I'll present what we call the big issues -- some 17 findings from our major combat ops, operations report. And again, we classify those as sort of the capabilities that reached new levels of performance; those that demonstrated considerable effectiveness, but still need some work; and then, frankly, some things that fell short of our expectations.
Q: Will you hand those out, or do we have to write like heck?
Cone: I believe there's a plan to hand those out as well. And then the second tier issues I will talk to if I have time. I think your focus is probably on the big things, and we can probably into those in Q&A. And then I'll also talk a little bit about how what we saw, how we think that affects and informs future transformational activities and those type of things.
Just to start off with, to talk about methodology, it has best been described by Air Marshal Brian Burridge as a dynamic assessment of the warfighting process vice a post-mortem. And too often, we wait until the war is over, and then we basically collect. And what you miss then is really the context, you miss what's really important to the warfighter. So, taking a team of 35 joint staff -- Joint Forces Command officers into the theater and embedding across the theater and observing the war as it actually went down, that gave us the opportunity to focus on what -- the view of the war from General Franks' and General Abizaid's perspective and the functional component command. So the things that I'm going to talk about today are things that General Franks pounded the table over, or basically was really pleased about, the things that happened. So that's kind of the perspective. And we've added some other issues that since then we found out are important that may not have been evident at that point in time.
As I say, some of you know retired General Gary Luck. He served as the senior mentor to my team of 35 active officers. And General Luck -- really, the first time we've had a senior mentor in theater. He worked with General Franks and he worked with the team. And I think what's important is we stayed trying to focus on really four-star operational-level issues.
The other point that I would make is that in order to do this kind of work, you have to have unencumbered access throughout the theater. You have to go to any meeting that you want to go to, you have to sit in on any activity. And on a daily basis we dispatched the officers across the theater, and I would conduct a collaborative works session at night, and basically I would meet with General Abizaid or General Franks, and we'd get some guidance on things that they thought were important. We'd collect information, and then basically -- you know, collect data, and then in many cases give feedback to General Franks and General Abizaid about what was going on. We think in some ways we had value added. In fact, we were told we had value added in terms of fixing some things in a dynamic way as opposed to waiting until, you know, the war is over, or -- you know. These are -- that was Admiral Giambastiani's guidance to me: this is a war, these are Americans at risk, and if you can fix something, you ought to intervene and do those things. And we have some -- some number of actual processes that we were able to intervene in.
I want to tell you what this briefing is not. It is not a systems assessment. I am not going to say we should buy X number of airplanes, we should buy X number of future combat systems, et cetera. It is at the operational level of war.
The other point I would make is, there's an important perspective here that we're still developing, and that's the enemy perspective. I mean, what it -- all of this stuff, we can tell you what our game plan is and how we execute it. The other side of that is really the study that is ongoing -- we're also working currently to find out what the Iraqis -- how do the Iraqis react to all these type of things? And that work is still ongoing. Some of it is included in these findings. But really, the major work, we're still putting together at this point, with the cooperation of various intelligence agencies.
A little bit about the data on which I speak. The process involves thousands of hours of observation, of key meetings and key decisions with people in the room taking notes, et cetera. It's over -- actually, the number now is closer to 600 interviews with key leaders, conducted longitudinally throughout the conflict. So, we were able to ask people what their problems were on one day, and then go back and say how did that turn out and what not. That's critical in the lessons-learned business, because too often in the military, we'll solve a problem and not tell anybody about it. And the guy who needs to know about it is probably some other combatant commander, in terms of what they know.
And then, the last thing is that a digital war, much as was conducted in CENTCOM, leaves a very large footprint. About 80 gigabytes of data we brought back from CENTCOM. And so, someone says to me, what decision was this -- or, how was this decision made, based on what information? We can go back and look at that. And I think when you combine these three things, I know -- I think this is going to have, perhaps, an impact on how we write military history, in terms of being able to capture a lot of this data. And in fact, one of the things I think we're looking at, the secretary asked us to look at, is writing a truly joint history of this war, from a joint perspective, vice a service perspective, as has been done in the past.
A little bit about our trade space. I talked about the fact that we are operational level. And we are located in General Franks' headquarters in Qatar, and then in all the functional component commands across the theater. We were in General Moseley's headquarters in Saudi Arabia, we were in General McKiernan's headquarters, we were in Admiral Keating's headquarters in Bahrain, and we also had folks associated with Special Operations Command. We had traveling teams that went out and followed issues to the supporting combatant commands, and we also had traveling teams that went and followed issues and agencies in the Washington area -- or supporting DOD agencies.
The question about the strategic national issues, and again, my focus is lower than that -- the Defense Science Board and the Joint Staff J-7 are really focused on those strategic national issues that feed into what we're talking about.
And below that, the question I frequently get is how are you related to the services? And this is really exciting. Lessons Learned has been the domain of the services. So, it has always been -- they take their perspective on things. In this conflict, we were actually able to co-locate in the functional component headquarters with the service collection teams. So on a daily basis, we would compare notes with each of the service teams, and we could basically share data back and forth. The good news about that is I think there's about a 90 percent agreement with the services on what happened in this war, there's probably about an 80 percent agreement on why it happened and there's probably about a 50 percent agreement on what we should do about it. So -- and that's -- that will take place in the weeks to come, as we come back to Washington and this data continues to move along.
(Pausing for water.) Get a drink here.
Let me talk a little bit about context. What I'd like to share with you is really the result of interviews of really the top 60 leaders. And I had the opportunity to do many of these on my own, had a chance to fly around the theater and interview many of the key leaders involved here.
And the question, I said, in terms of understanding this from scope, scale, complexity, risk and capabilities demonstrated, what are the big take-aways of this war? The number-one point that is mentioned is that this war cannot be conceived of as a three-week or a four-month event. It is actually a 12-year event, in terms of what has happened since 1991 to the start of activities on the 19th of March. And it's very important we understand the shaping operations, the intelligence-gathering, the understanding of Iraq from a number of perspectives.
The second point that is made by these key leaders is that this a nation at war. And as a result of that, you see growth across from Afghanistan to where we are today in Iraq. Basically, people have learned -- one of the quotes that General Franks said: "I would not have been as comfortable moving large formations around the battlefield and accepting the risk that I accepted, you know, if I didn't have the experience of Afghanistan: that I knew my staff could leverage joint capabilities, that I could do the kinds of things that I did."
All the way from his level all the way down to when you talk to majors in the time-sensitive targeting cell, and you say, "Well, why are you doing it like that?" And they say, "Well, we started off doing like this, and we've evolved, we've evolved." Truly a learning headquarters, U.S. Central Command was, to get to where they were in the execution of major combat operations.
Two other factors that I would mention:
One is the importance of the existing command-and-control facilities that we had in the region. And many of you have seen, I think, on television this -- the war room, General McKiernan's headquarters -- truly a very impressive digital connectivity. Well, all of the functional component commanders had those kinds of facilities that had many of the characteristics of future network warfare that we want in the future.
Of course, it took us a long time to build those headquarters as we built up in theater, but what we saw from that, what was leveraged from that, is really this tremendous sharing of information and knowledge that enabled joint command and control that I'll talk about here in a few minutes.
The other point that I would get to involves the investment that we've made in terms of pre-positioned stocks and lift. And when you really look at the execution of this war and our ability to basically leverage the pre-positioned stocks that both the Army and the Marine Corps had in theater, and then you look at the investment that we have in C-17 roll-on/roll-offs, we were able to move about a quarter of the amount of stuff to the theater in -- with about the same capacity, even though we had fewer ships and fewer aircraft. So, we were able to close in theater in about a three-month period of time from about a seven-month period of time last time with about four times as much stuff, which is why it took that long.
Bandwidth. Two other factors that are mentioned. People talk -- and this is very much related to the command and control headquarters. We had about 42 times the bandwidth in this conflict than we did in the first war. And I say that, and a lot of guys are very impressed with what they see in these headquarters. The first thing commanders would tell you is it's not enough. You know, 4.2 gigabytes, or whatever, is a lot. But the fact of the matter is, is that the last tactical mile, I think people have seen the capabilities of what might be, if they had information. And we've still got problems getting down to the tip of the spear here in terms of getting information there.
I think the other point that we saw that people talk to, and really the advantage that General Franks' headquarters had, was the number of training events that preceded this war. How frequently is it that a commander has the opportunity to run through several major exercises, really rehearsals for this war, where you could take a staff that had been together a long period of time and train, and train over, and train over. Our question is, how do we give the next Joint Force commander the same advantages that General Franks had?
The last point that I would make really involves a notion that we've had in the U.S. military about overwhelming force. And we think that when you really look at the numbers that were present -- resident on the ground in Kuwait at the start of the war and some of the restrictions we had, I think what we had was not -- overwhelming force, to me, would mean greater numbers, you know, numerical superiority, greater mass, et cetera. What we have here is overmatching power; overmatching at a time and place of our choosing on the battlefield against a specific opponent. And then power, not just like numbers, but being able to leverage different types of joint capabilities at this time and place of our choosing.
The key points that the leaders I interviewed mentioned were: A, having initiative to determine time and place of attack; B, having better and more timely information than the enemy -- again, a relative comparison; the ability to leverage the air and sea arm into the ground fight, because we achieved air and sea supremacy so quickly; and then the application of precision, precision fires on a scope and scale that's unprecedented, linked to speed and depth of ground maneuver, as we saw here.
Given that, what I'd like to do then is to move into -- setting that as sort of the backdrop. What I'd like to do is then talk about our findings. And again, what I'm going to do is go through the big winners, sort of the 60-40 wins, and then the things that we think we really need some work in. And I'll just identify those. And again, I wish we had the handouts. But let me just talk about the big winners. There are three of them. They are joint integration and adaptive planning, they are joint force synergy, and the integration of Special Operations -- Special Operations on the battlefield. And I'll touch on these very quickly, because I think a lot has been talked about in other forums about this, so we can move on to, really, the areas where I think we need improvement.
Joint integration and adaptive planning. I think what we saw with General Franks' headquarters is a graduate-level organization, an organization that truly was operating in the upper percentiles of, at least in my professional experience, operating. I think a large part of that was enabled, number one, by the personalities of the commanders. When you look at the people who were involved, the personalities of Mosely and McKiernan, Keating, Gary Harrell, I mean, this an all-star cast of folks. Having the opportunity to watch these guys in Iraq on daily video teleconferences try and solve problems, the initiative that they offered, et cetera, is really remarkable.
Another point I would make is the plan. And frequently the plan has received a lot of criticism, and I would say that the plan is not really important. It's the planning process that CENTCOM had down. And literally watching conditions change, watching assumptions change, the staff was virtually unflappable during the major combat ops phase of this thing. They could recognize when they had problems, and they would quickly go back to a pre-war gamed, or basically -- we call them branches or sequels, and they would immediately pick these things up and basically do that. But more importantly, they used collaborative tools to establish this environment where everyone was linked together. And they could make changes very rapidly, and people could give candid assessments and work the changes. I think General Franks, he has a knack for nailing -- we call it commander's intent. But what it amounts to is things that he would say in the video teleconference you could hear soldiers across the theater saying in mess halls in terms of, you know, we -- you know, fast and final, or, you know, some -- we need to -- some people need to be killed, or something of that nature that he could sort of articulate a very clear vision. But that is enabled by these networks I talked about. In every one of the headquarters you could go into -- we have a thing, guys can get up onto the work station and pull up the major teleconferences that take place. So every young major sitting anywhere in the headquarters, you'd know when General McKiernan was giving an assessment, because these guys would get up and everybody would watch what was going on. The empowerment of all those people thinking about the same thing, I think, is absolutely critical to the success of this war.
Just some recommendations in terms of, you know, what do we need to do about this. The question is, how do we give the next commander the same advantages that Franks had? And I think one of the points that we make is, again, we've done some good things in joint operations, developing the joint operational concept, education, training, but we've really got to work, I think, on a more robust joint national training capability. Again, some of the pieces -- and you'll see when I talk, some of the large moving pieces here we don't necessary practice right now. We've got to practice the operational integration of these skills.
And then I think the other point is the network. It's a great network. They cobbled it together. People saw the power of the network, but virtually most of the -- any of the problems we really have have to do with data latency, data not tracking exactly specifically, et cetera. So we've got work to do on the network.
Joint force synergy. I'm going to go over that very quickly. I believe we have a coherent application of joint force, what happens if you have a plan that takes really the application of special operation forces in a very important and unprecedented manner in terms of the roles and responsibility they have. You link that together with the application of precision fires on a scope and scale across an entire theater previously unseen. You tie that to ground maneuver over distances with rapid speed, linked to the operations of the SOF and of the precision fires, and you enable that with joint logistics and you entwine these things or put them together in a plan in such a way they can't be taken apart. That is the coherent application of joint force. And that's what General Franks' plan did.
So I think the point that I would make here is that anybody who was a part of this, who saw this, gets it. You understand the power of jointness, the power to bring these kinds of things together. And as I say, from interviewing people, the number one issue, when I say, "What's the big lesson?" the word is "jointness," from the key commanders across the board.
SOF, Special Ops, I just touched on that a moment ago. I would just say that General Franks had a clear vision on how he wanted SOF to be used. And if you look at the campaign plan across the theater, they had critical and important responsibilities; particularly you think about, you know, the loss of our ability to come in from the north, from Turkey, if you look at the west, in the area denial mission, and then you look at what they did to enable the movement of ground forces, but in particular how SOF was used when some conditions changed on the battlefield in terms of how the enemy fought us, how the SOF was able to get us some critical intelligence in terms of dealing with the Saddam Fedayeen.
So I think this is a good-news story. We see high levels of SOF integration. I think there are significant number of major episodes of integration where SOF and conventional forces worked together. And we think that that gives some tremendous capabilities. It's the way to move ahead, and I think, in the minds of a lot of the youngsters who experienced this, I think they're believers.
Now of course there are some people who don't. And as I say, nothing that I talk about is a hundred percent in war. You can always find an exception. You can find an interview, an outlier, somebody who said, "They were worthless in my area," et cetera. But by and large, this is a major theme.
Let me move now to the areas that are what we call 60-40 type things. And the next one I'm going to talk about is urban operations. And some of you might say, well, you know, we didn't have the big fight that we thought we were going to. I mean, a lot of people thought what was the worst thing that could have happened would be in fact had they set the defense of Baghdad, Fortress Baghdad. That didn't happen, for a number of reasons, the first of which, I think, is General Franks, some of his key decisions in terms of continuing and accelerating the movement to Baghdad, and such that the enemy -- whether he was capable of establishing that defense or not, the fact is that the momentum and tempo that Franks established was key.
But in the urban world, we didn't have that fight. But I think, in the four to five months that preceded this war, we did a number of things in the Department of Defense that we need to continue. So what we're saying is, a little preparation in urban operations goes a long way, and we need to continue those preparations.
For example, I think both the Marine Corps, the Army and the Air Force in particular adapted tactics, techniques and procedures, really studied the urban problem. One of the things we were very happy about is the -- an operational level approach to urban warfare. When you have a city of 5-1/2 million people, that is not a tactical problem. That is an operational problem.
And some of the approaches that we saw in terms of how we were going to take down Baghdad -- I was in General Wallace's TOC (sic--tactical operations center), for instance, on the eve of the war, and he said, "You know what I'm going to do if I get up there?" He says, "You know those wide boulevards?" He goes, "I think that they will allow me to slice Baghdad up. I can use armor in those instances."
So we saw a lot of creative thinking. We saw a lot of tactical- level training for Marines and soldiers. And then we also saw the Air Force adapting some procedures in terms of close attack using the A- 10s in urban environments.
We also saw -- you ask the Marines, "How did you learn to do what you did, I mean, when you got up there to Baghdad?" And the answer is that they adapted. They fought 11 fights before they got to Baghdad. And we too frequently -- we seldom say that people are adaptive, but when you talk to those young soldiers and Marines, you say: Well, what we learned is every fight is different. We learned to focus on the geography of the city. We learned to -- you know, in terms of the intelligence involved.
We also, I think, did a fairly good job at passing intelligence from higher to lower, in terms of intelligence preparation of the battlefield, to think about what was going on in these cities, although I will say that I don't think the intelligence was good at all in terms of what we thought about the enemy when we got up into Baghdad, in terms of the -- what we expected of an enemy inside the city. Again, our point here is, hey, we need to continue working on this very hard, we need to get the same emphasis that we had in the four months before the war, and we need to continue working on that.
The next area I'm going to talk to is psychological operations. And for many people at the tactical level, that's -- we may not have paid adequate attention to that in the past, but it became a reality in this war. Understanding the impact of basically the psychological operations capabilities -- leaflets, communications, the ability to try and influence the Iraqis before the conflict. Now, as I said, this is one that, as we look at it, it becomes more of maybe a 51-49 than a 60-40. And what we learned is -- for the first time we thought about this. We had young, bright staff officers in key places prepared to start to think about how we were going to influence this. But as we got into it, quite frankly, we learned a number of things about the need for resources, the ability to produce leaflets, and ability to target those leaflets at the right population, the -- and again, one of the comments that was made is, you know, on capitulation. And we -- you know, we put out leaflets at a very high level, and a lot of the tactical commanders said hell, I don't need the whole country to surrender, I need the guy that's in front of me tomorrow; can I get a leaflet printed? And the answer is no, we, quite frankly, didn't have the resources. So we're looking at those kind of things. Radio broadcast is another area. How quickly can we leverage our capability to put, you know, radio broadcasting targeted at a specific audience at a specific place? And again, we have some things, but they're -- if we're going to -- this is going to be a key part of our game plan in the future, we need to work on that.
The last point I'd make here is assessment. How do you assess what the impact of that is? As we start to use these things more, how do you -- how do you make the assessments? And I think we've got some work to do in that area.
The next area I'm going to talk to is what's known as intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. And really, at the operational level -- again, I'm talking about -- I'm not talking about strategic-level intelligence, I'm talking about basically our ability to leverage the sensors and the HUMINT capabilities we have on the ground to get the picture that the commanders needed. And our finding is that although we had an unprecedented ability -- you can't compare what the guy on the ground knew in this war from 1991. I mean, they knew a lot more. And we did a lot of good things with this. But the fact of the matter is, in some ways we didn't people's expectations. In this war we had a far greater demand for intelligence, or for intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance. We executed a large number of what we call time-sensitive targets, where we basically would detect something and destroy it. That puts a big demand on it. We had two attacking -- you know, the MEF and the Corps attacking. They're making demands for intelligence. And basically, that's a lot of information. But when you take (writ ?) large a country the size of Iraq, with all those sensors and communications, how do you get the right information to the right person who needs it in a timely manner?
And again, we did some real good things. I think one of the things you do with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance is A, you work the targeting cycle, and I think we did real good at that. B, you understand the enemy composition and disposition. We did pretty good at that. And the last part is you assess the effects of what you did. And quite frankly, we struggle with that. And what that created was a problem in terms of understanding when you're striking 600 or nearly 1,000 targets a night by air, how do you get that to the ground guy who's going to be moving through that area the next day?
And so, we've got some -- we've seen tremendous potential in what these things can do, but we've got a long way to go to tie this network together and get the right info to the right guy at the right time.
Now, we'll go into the areas that we think fell short of expectations. And again, that -- I want to make sure in terms of this ISR capability is a success story. It really is, when you talk to the amount of information that we had. Again, we're very hard, in terms of grading ourselves in regard to the user's perspective.
Fratricide prevention is one that -- I think the point I would make here is that any fratricide is too many -- is too many, given the capabilities that we have to do things. I've interviewed commanders, and guys will tell me: "Look, it's training; it's the number one thing. In my unit, the fratricides that I had could have been prevented by training." And yet, I think there are other technological capabilities and solutions that we can bring to bear.
And we look at fratricide prevention having two critical ingredients. One is combat identification; things like identification friend or foe that the aircraft have, or some system on the ground like these thermal panels or the IR bug lights that they have -- something, a positive ID when someone decides to shoot, that they can confirm. And then the other part is really the situational awareness: Who's supposed to be over there? Who is over there?
And what I think we saw was we really -- in one regard, in terms of combat ID, I don't think we've made a lot of progress in the last 10 years. I think the fact is that we have fundamentally, I think, the thermal panels and the IR bug lights for ground forces. And I think -- and again, I could show you some -- what that looks like from an F-14 LANTIRN pod at 15,000 feet is not comforting in terms of the ability to discern.
So then you say, well, let's use some situational awareness tool, like Blue Force Tracker. And again, there were -- Herculean efforts were made really to try and get this Blue Force picture down to the lowest level. And I think what we got is a lot of people who said, boy, there's some real value in this. There's some real value in knowing, for instance, when you're doing these complicated type operations that we're doing now, having the guy in the aircraft or having the guy -- the biggest advocates of this Blue Force Tracker that I talked to were the guys in the Combined Air Ops Center. And they said, "Look, this is wonderful. We can see where the nearest ground element is, and we can clear fires when" -- they were particularly talking about, you know, some of the precision operations that they do.
So I think first of all, CENTCOM did a lot of things to try and fix -- they spent a lot of time before the war to try and work through fratricide. We need to promulgate their best practices, some of the things that they did that worked, and we need to pass those along. And then I think we really need, I think, to work on this Blue Force tracking and other combat ID. I think it's essential. And then, of course, as I say, training is always a key factor. We need to continue that.
The next area -- and these are two areas I'm going to talk to, deployment planning and execution, and Reserve mobilization and deployment. And frankly, those are, I think, more strategic-level issues than they are operational-level issues, but in interviewing commanders, these are things that basically were very emotional issues that guys wanted me to include in this report.
And again, I think our statement on finding on deployment planning is that simply the demands for flexibility and adaptation exceeded our capabilities of the mobilization and deployment process. And for those of you who recall back to the problems we had with access basing and overflight and how the situation was changing constantly, you cannot have a deployment plan that's locked in concrete, that people just want to execute. When your ability to leverage access basing and overflight is changing, you have to have a system that's flexible enough. So we departed from that -- from our TPFD, Time-Phased Force Deployment flow process, and we basically tried to develop a system on the fly. But somehow lost in that process was the articulation of our subordinate commanders who kind of decide how they want things brought into the theater. And so that was lost, and so there was a lot of friction and frustration in the theater. I mean, we did it. We moved more, it was successful, this rolling start, we got it all there, but it was not an easy process. So in this day of collaboration and information management systems, one of our recommendations is we've got to put these tools to use in an updated process that's going to allow the subordinate commander to articulate his desires yet at the same time recognize the fluidity of the situation in terms of access basing and overflight, and that you just can't execute a rote plan.
The other point that's related to that is really the Reserve mobilization and deployment process. And one of the comments from tactical commanders on the ground was, there are people over here that have not been treated the way we should have treated them, in terms of their -- you know, their -- the time they've been away from their families, et cetera, et cetera. And we have a mismatch, perhaps a paradigm, between the way that we -- what our requirements are in the post-9/11 world, and what our mobilization policies and procedures are. And where the rubber is meeting the road is really at the individual level, and that they want this known and, again, a larger examination. And I understand Dr. Chu and the Joint Forces Command, in fact, are looking at alternatives. And I think -- and I've been asked, is this -- you know, what needs to change? Is it force mix? It is readiness levels, et cetera? I'm not sure. My job was to articulate the problem, and I think that we've tried to do that in this report.
The next subject -- I guess I covered all the major issues. What I'd like to do at this point would be just to cover some second-tier issues, and I'll do it -- try in a sentence -- a couple of sentences on each of these.
One is joint fires. And again, we saw some tremendous application of precision fire. It was very impressive in terms of how we were able to use fires and how the battlefield was coordinated and a lot of innovation was used. But still, I think we can do better. I think that there's something about this blue force situational awareness and some of the restrictive control measures, if we could fix these systems, wire them together, we could, in fact, use joint fires more responsibly, everything from ATACMS, and again, work through this fratricide problem. So, good news on joint fires. We still have some problems with the interoperability of our systems in terms of, you know, how does a guy on the ground call for fire, and is that a streamlined system that goes from the guy who needs it to the guy who's delivering it. And we have some -- we need some work on our systems, and we have some detailed recommendations on that.
Time-sensitive targeting, the ability to see something that's literally moving on the battlefield and kill it. I think we did some great things here. And the key points are we want to document what we saw in CENTCOM and then go over and give them to the commanders that we saw, for instance, in Korea and in PACOM and other combatant commanders. And too often we don't do that. And we've had the opportunity -- I just have returned in recent months from going out and briefing the leadership in Korea, briefing the leadership in PACOM, briefing the leadership in EUCOM to take these lessons so that they understand them and their staffs understand them and we can do something about it.
Overmatching strike is the next point. And we're going to -- there's a decisive point in this battle where, you know, I'm sure many of you remember, we're talking about the end of March. The sandstorm is in place. We were basically -- the ground forces are trying to reset their stance just south of Karbala. And General Franks has a decision to make. And basically, for about four days we go through this period of time. And during this time, of course, we prosecuted really the meat of the air campaign, I mean really in terms of General Moseley and his folks going after targets. But still, at this point we have a lot of uncertainty. I mean, we know where the big units are, but there are some -- a lot of questions about how effective what we killed was, where people have moved to. And General Franks having a sense of urgency that we need to get to Baghdad before they can set any kind of defense in -- you know, drive this thing through, he sees a strategic and operational opportunity. But he has tactical risk because he doesn't really know what's in front of those ground forces. And the point he makes is that he can accept that risk because he has overmatching training in terms of the quality of the training of his soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, that he has better mobility, that he's got better firepower, and he's got better survivability. So he can push on with the attack at this decisive point and continue, again, to keep the enemy off his heels. And the key point that we make here is it's very important that in design of future forces we must -- we're not looking for a fair fight here. We must maintain that overmatch at this point of attack that we're talking about. And I think when you talk to soldiers in the 3rd ID and certainly Marines in the 1st Marine Division, I think they're big advocates of that.
Training. As I say, that is our asymmetric advantage. We give very high grades to the training levels in most cases, in terms of the service capabilities, in terms of what we saw on the battlefield. Our real criticism is at the joint level, where we try and integrate systems. For instance, the -- we use a -- some federated processes at the higher levels in terms of dealing with the assessment on the battlefield; do you practice that in our current training paradigm? You know, probably not. We probably -- things you don't practice you probably don't do well. So our point would be we need to take a hard look at those in terms of scope and scale. The size of the operation that we had going on there in Iraq is substantial, and we've got to kind of take a hard look at those things.
Theater logistics. And again, this is something at the operational level is not a major problem in terms of transiting things through the theater and getting them on the ground. What we know now is, in talking to the Lessons Learned teams from the Army and the Marine Corps, there are significant shortages. I think anything that we can push up the pipeline, if we can guess they need water, they need fuel, they need ammunition, whatever, we can send it. But if it takes a closed-loop feedback in terms of information to come back, then, you know, that's a -- digital systems or whatever, that -- like repair parts would be something that we would -- someone would have to say, We need this part for this tank -- we're not getting the message. And the fact is, is that, you know, we have some -- we had some significant supply problems in those regards. And those are service issues: fundamentally, the Army and the Marine Corps. And I know that's included in both of their reports.
We did see good things at the joint level in logistics. We saw more jointness in logistics in Arafjan -- in the activities -- the Army, the Marines, the Navy, the Marine Corps working together. And we saw some very good things in terms of in- transit visibility into the theater. We didn't have an iron mountain, we had iron hills, because we could lower the number of days of supplies that we needed in theater because we had good in-transit visibility to the theater.
Let me go ahead and stop at -- well, let me talk about one last thing, and that is the emerging battle space. And I talked about an insight to the future. And if you look at the battlefield of 1991, it was, you know, fundamentally linear, where we had massed forces, jointness was more deconflicted than integrated, we focused fundamentally on the military-to-military aspect, and it was basically a symmetrical campaign; and then you look at, just writ large, the theater of Iraq and the activities in the west, in the north, and then the converging forces of the ground forces, the application of joint fires, this is a tremendously complicated battlefield.
And the key point is that we used a lot of new concepts and a lot of things worked, but we need to continue to look at the second-order implications of those things and walk them back into experimentation, make sure we understand all the implications, like distributed operations, having military units all by themselves out alone on the battlefield. Are they ready for that challenge? Have they been trained for that? Do they have the right Blue Force Tracker, do they have the right weapons systems, et cetera? Let's go back and study that and do some experimentation and then integrate all these changes into our doctrine in our training centers so that people are prepared as we advance these concepts. So I think we've seen some great potential, but the fact of the matter is we've got to do our homework in terms of bringing the back side up.
With that, we'll go with questions. Sir?
Q: General Cone, there was a lot of concern after the Gulf War of 1991 about friendly fire. It's turning up as a problem 12 years later. And granted, this has been a problem through the history of warfare, but can you account for why it's still a problem? And can you tell us what needs to be done about it?
Cone: I think part of it was that last response that I had about the complexity and the difficulty of this battlefield. I would argue that when you have this relatively symmetric battlefield, separated forces, that's how we prevented fratricide in the past. I think as you get a much more complicated battlefield, as you bring forces converging, as you bring these capabilities in closer, it's a greater challenge. So it's kind of a moving target in terms of how we -- you know, how we train for this and how we get ready for it.
And then the other point is I think -- you know, we understand the power of the situational awareness and we've been working in digitization for a number of years. The point is we rushed that stuff into theater. I think we just -- we were close on a lot of things; we've just got to continue to push and we will start to realize some of these gains.
Q: A follow-up on the same subject?
Q: At the hearing this morning, Admiral Giambastiani said that statistically, U.S. forces did better on fratricide this time than in the Gulf War. What are the numbers that support that statement?
Cone: I'm not at liberty. I get those numbers from U.S. Central Command in their ongoing investigation, so I don't -- I'd rather not -- I'm not at liberty to talk -- to give you those numbers.
Q: I mean, he made that statement in public. I mean, aren't you going to be able to support it with some numbers?
Cone: Not at this time. But I will say that, as I say, investigations are ongoing. We have to learn exactly what the cause and effect are. And as we do that, we'll have that. But in aggregate, I think the point that the admiral also made is when you look at the number of man days exposure in terms of the complexity of the operation, and then you say, well, we're at war literally with ground forces interoperating with air forces, et cetera, et cetera, you realize that in terms of the exposure period, it's significant, in just gross order of magnitude.
Q: But how do you know that the number is lower if you don't have any numbers?
Cone: I didn't say I didn't have numbers. I said that I was not at liberty to provide those numbers.
Q: May I focus with you for a moment on the battle of Baghdad that really wasn't? Early on when the 3rd ID and the Marines were racing north towards Baghdad, it was believed that the Republican Guard and the Special Republican Guard would mass around Baghdad and make a last-ditch stand, if necessary, and there would be ditches with oil fires, and there would be weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological. And none of this happened. They just simply cut and run. And I know much of this is going to depend, probably, on interviewing their side of it. But as you see it, why wasn't there a major battle? Did they have weapons of mass destruction and did not use them? Did they not have them? Why did they not fight? Why did they not put up a stronger fight?
Cone: Once again, I will tell you that we are continuing to study -- and it is really fascinating when you start to look at the command and control and how all that stuff was worked together. I'm not sure I have the answer, particularly on why they didn't fight the way they were supposed to fight.
In regard to WMD, I -- all I can tell you is that in the -- the commanders I interviewed, the question was when they would use it, not if they would use it. That was the belief of the people on the ground.
Di Rita: Let me, if I can -- excuse me, General.
Di Rita: It's not that -- I don't think it's the case that they didn't fight. It's the case that there was no WMD; we know that.
Di Rita: I think there were a lot of fights around Baghdad, and a lot of people made a stand.
Q: Well, Larry, there was an assumption made early on in the war that there would be a major fight and urban warfare in the streets of Baghdad, which would have been very costly on both sides. But it's not clear -- I mean, there was a speculation that came up as late as yesterday that -- and I raised it with the secretary, as you heard today; he chose not to answer -- that Saddam tried to pull a bluff, that he did not have chemical/biological weapons, and the order to his combatant commanders was simply to try and buy more time while they resupplied or regrouped.
I'm just interested to see the feeling from the general and his surveys -- you know, was there any indication that there were weapons of mass destruction there? And again, why -- from his point of view, why did the Republican Guard not fight to the last man, as they claimed they were going to do? They cut and run and went home.
Di Rita: It's an assumption you keep making. A lot of them did. A lot of them were also killed. So I mean -- and also the idea that -- I think you said there was an assumption there would be urban warfare. That's --
Di Rita: There was an assumption that we needed to be prepared for urban warfare, which is a different thing from saying we assumed that there would be urban warfare. So we have -- the plan allowed for a range of activities, including urban warfare.
Q: Not quite. He said, "I don't think the intelligence was good at all in terms of what we expected of an enemy inside the city." What -- how do you account for that intelligence -- I'm sorry to use this word, but failure? Why wasn't your intelligence better?
Cone: I think that -- and the comment comes from really -- if you talk to the folks that were in the lead units in the corps and in the Marines, and you say, "What specifically did you expect to find in terms of enemy forces?" And the reality was that they didn't have a good read, other than the fact that they didn't see, I think, the major evidence of preparation, et cetera, so that that is what triggered them to continue their -- to seize the opportunities that they had. So --
Q: So what was the problem? Why didn't you have a better understanding of what it was going to be? Was it -- did they have a massive -- was there an intentional attempt, do you think, by them to cover up what they were doing? Or was there some kind of a big hole -- (Inaudible.)?
Cone: I think I would say that -- you know, that war has a fundamental degree of confusion. It's controlled chaos. And to a certain extent, when you have the momentum of a ground operation that was present here, I frankly just -- I'm not sure -- I think that -- the good news here is that when you see an opportunity, when you think that -- when you do not see an enemy being organized, that you take advantage of that opportunity and basically, you know, drive to the heart of this issue, which was to segment Baghdad and then to realize the success of that operation, then to continue to go in and seize that palace, which I think is really, again, to the point of adaptiveness of U.S. forces in terms of having done the intellectual preparation to understand an opportunity and then to seize that opportunity and follow it through.
Q: May I do one quick follow-up on this and the final question? Were -- from your point of view, were our commanders on the ground surprised that they didn't meet as much resistance as had been anticipated?
Cone: I think that they looked at a range of options in terms of what the enemy would do. And I could tell you that this varies across the front. There are instances where I think that the enemy did fight, and I don't think that, you know, those are well known. And so I think that what happened was within the range of their understanding of what was likely to happen, although, quite frankly, you know, I think it was positive in terms of what they did. You talk to the kids, again, as I say, in the 3rd ID, I would not characterize that as less resistance, particularly in the sand storms and those kinds of things. I think you'd really find it was a very intense fight, as intense as certainly anybody wanted it to be.
Q: The sandstorm was nature. I'm talking about human beings on the other side fighting back.
Cone: Well, I think if you combine the environmental conditions of the sandstorm and then you look at, you know, basically how -- in terms of a lot of the attacks that took place during those time frames, I think that that's the intense fighting I was talking about.
Q: On the fratricide issue, prevent fratricide, I want to strip that down a little bit. Did you find it was more of a question of commanders feeling inhibited because they couldn't get a good read of Blue Forces inhibiting maneuver versus outright deaths caused by fratricide? The Gulf War had a lot of tank-on-tank engagements. This war -- this battle -- this war just didn't have it. It was more air-to-ground. But was it an inhibiting factor versus killing soldiers, or a mixture of both?
Cone: I think every one of the incidents -- and when you understand them, they're different -- and again, there's no -- as I say, you talk to one commander, and he says, "Look, you know, okay, it was a confusing situation, and this guys shouldn't have been here, but training could have mitigated that. If he'd have just done this thing or that thing." So that's why we investigate these one by one, because I think every one of these, when you peel the onion back on them you learn something a little bit different.
Q: General, you mentioned training a couple times as important in this fratricide problem. Has there been too much reliance on training as a preventative to fratricide and not enough emphasis on the development of some of these combat ID technologies that I know are being experimented with now?
Cone: Oh, I think it's a balance. I think a lot of commanders -- in fact, I've been -- when I talk, typically, about the technology, BlueFor Tracker and about the Combat ID, many of the commanders, when I offer that as a solution, they say, "Yeah, but it goes back to training." Those two things won't work either unless we have training.
Q: Well, just let me ask you, is there -- has there been a tension within the Army and the Marine Corps in particular, because they're the one that deal with this most directly, over whether we should -- we should rely on training, or we need to go full-bore on developing some of these laser technologies and combat ID technologies? Have we been inhibited in that development, delayed in that development since Desert Storm because we were relying on training?
Cone: I think that to a lot of folks that operate in the ground world, it's kind of a "show me" thing. You show me value added to this stuff, and I'll be interested in it. And I think we were able to introduce enough of it that I saw some real -- some folks who are now believers saying that we think there probably is a technological dimension. Let's start to develop that as well. But it can't be the be-all/end-all. It's got to be a combination of really those three things, I think.
Q: Follow up on that? Can you devise an ID, an electronic ID, or whatever, that would be used by U.S. forces and Canadians and Brits, all our coalition people, widely distributed, that could not -- would work 100 percent of the time, but it would not fall into enemy hands; the enemy couldn't somehow get the design and produce counterfeit copies? And is that, perhaps, a concern of some combatant commanders?
Cone: Sir, I'm not an expert on the technical development of these things. I have some background in it, and I'll tell you that a lot of things are possible. And again, that is certainly a major concern you mentioned of, you know -- the enemy, falling into hands; how could it be quickly destroyed, and whatnot. And these are all things that I think the Army is probably taking -- and the Marine Corps -- taking a hard look at that. But I think, as I say, some eyes have been open to what some possibilities are, and there are trade- offs, as you mention.
Di Rita: And I really do want to emphasize, I don't think anything the general is saying -- and please do correct me, if you are -- suggesting that there hasn't been significant technological improvements since Desert Storm, because it's an area that the services, the military departments, do care about and focus on. But you can always get better, and we've learned lessons in each conflict that require us to sort of take stock and decide is this -- have we had the right emphasis. But --
Q: You want to make sure before you develop the technology, that it is not going to be something that would backfire on us, such as if coalition forces were captured and the enemy then used the electronic ID, took it from them and masqueraded as coalition forces when they're attacking.
Di Rita: Fair enough.
Q: A parochial question. Did you look in your lessons learned at the wisdom of the decision to embed some 500 members of the press? And how -- what would you recommend -- and if you did, what did you see, and would you recommend that this is something that the further -- that be made more part of doctrine? For instance, making standard military exercises to include members of the press? Did you look at that whole issue?
Cone: We did. And in fact, a very favorable response in regard to embedding. And the fact is, it's a huge positive response. There are two concerns, and those are, you know, sort of the live-feed interview in a firefight and the concerns about what would have gone wrong in some cases had that happened. And, you know, fortunately, it didn't. And the second point had to do with notification and some turbulence that's created at home station when you have, you know, this unit, you can figure out who's in contact, you know there have been casualties, and again how that kind of trickles through the system and how the chain of command can't get on top of that because it's coming real time. And those are the -- as I say, it's an overwhelmingly positive story. Of course -- and I'd say that's on the ground war. There are other components here, you know, the air component and the naval component, that I think we could have covered better. I think it would have been -- it's a complete joint story and we could have done really well with that.
Q: For instance, there's been an idea that perhaps journalists should be included in military exercises in the future to build up a cadre of journalists that have experience in the training and know the operations.
Q: Is that something that you looked at?
Cone: That's not specifically in the study, but the recommendation would be to continue this program and certainly to avoid the surge that we had to have the last time, and sort of continue the state-of-the-art knowledge development. That would be, I think, a very good idea.
Di Rita: And I would also -- on that point, because it's a great question -- in the various briefs that Admiral Giambastiani and General Cone have given, the topic's come up. I mean, people have discussed it and wondered what would it have been -- everybody generally agrees it was a successful program and worth looking at to make better in the future if it's possible, but how would it have been different if the war had gone differently; and if it did go differently, how would you want to be ready to do it differently in that case? So it's an important question.
Q: Did you look at the question of unilaterals, people who weren't embedded -- and then how you deal with that?
Cone: I think overwhelmingly, I think, when talking to PAO folks, the fact is that we probably would pay dividends to pay greater attention to those -- the embed. I mean, I think we were all focused on it because it was the first time, and I think a better, more even distribution of PAO interest would have probably helped us out. And I think it would be a good idea in the future.
Di Rita: General Cone has been generous with his time, and I think maybe we can take a couple more. Here, we'll get somebody new.
Q: General, you touched on battle damage assessment, or what I assumed was really -- boils down to battle damage assessment, when you talked about the ISR issue --
Q: Can you go into more detail? What's going on there? Do we not have the collection systems? Are we not able to task properly, exploit the data, get it out to the right people? What's the problem?
Cone: I think it has to do with scope and scale. Again, when you talk about the number of targets that we're servicing and the synchronization or the linkage between that and ground movement, and you're shooting, you know, say, a thousand targets overnight, how do you get that information, I mean feedback from that to the guy who needs it, who's the guy in the tank that's going -- or the Bradley that's going to cross that piece of ground the next day? And the problem is, as I say, when you say is it -- how do you get that information? They need it. The guy that's on the ground will say, Well, look, a lot of good things were done as we've transited the country. But we didn't know that.
Q: What I don't understand, though, is that if we're able to strike them, if we're able to cue weapons on target, why can't we cue a camera on the target and get it back digitally to the guy --
Cone: I think that we -- that, in fact, we don't. I think, in fact, that we strike targets, and that this process, we focus on effects, we strike targets, and, in fact, we don't get immediately that feedback. Right now that feedback takes longer than, in fact, that we probably need it.
The other point I would make is that with the probability of many of the weapons systems and the precision that we have, you know, perhaps, you know, we can -- we can probablistically assess, you know, the effects of what has happened.
I think the point I would make is we want to get -- you know, in this -- what are -- what the effects on the enemy? How do we view the enemy as a system vice counting all the specifics that are out there? And I think that's the direction that we want to head to in the future.
Q: Follow-up on that? Just on battle images, was there any difference between assessing the effect of bombing strikes on -- within urban areas as compared to, say, open areas, like western Iraq, where it's maybe less populated? Did you find any differences there?
Cone: I guess my point is really relative to the timeliness of information. And so probably the area that you're really interested in in assessing the effects is where battle damage effects are linked to ground maneuver. And you'd have that. And again, we -- you know, in the -- somebody said, Look, in the last war we had 38 -- we did a 38-day bombing campaign and we assessed and we knew, you know, pretty much what the effects were, and then we rolled across. This one, we're -- you know, we start the ground war, and then we're bombing simultaneously. And so there's a linkage there that we've really got to work and get done.
Di Rita: All right.
Q: What were the lessons learned in terms of long and unguarded supply lines, did you reach any conclusions about whether the lines should have been more heavily guarded, particularly with respect to what happened to the 507th Maintenance Company?
Cone: I think that that was one of the -- I talked about adaptability, and how quickly people recognize the changing environment that they were in. And I would say yes, in fact, that we did have the 507th Maintenance Company. But, in fact, I think what's truly laudable is how quickly we adapted convoy escort procedures and really precluded that from being a major factor again. So I would say -- you know, and it's funny. Some of these things, people with Vietnam war experience would say, you know, this is, you know, vintage -- we went -- we turned the clock back, you know, decades in terms of doing things. But they -- in fact, I think this is the adaptability of the plan to say that we had the ability to kind of adapt to that in terms of reallocating forces to protect those LOCS. I think that CENTCOM adapted very quickly and very well.
Q: Yeah, on forced entry, there was difficulty at first in getting out to the beach. You had mines, you had other things in the way; it had to be cleared out. Did we learn anything there about things that the Navy could have done that would have accelerated that; would have let the British ship get in a little earlier?
Cone: Well, I think -- overall, I think that the execution of those operations was -- is fairly complicated. Again, it certainly could have been a lot worse than it was. And again, I think overall, I don't recall anything specifically in terms of a lesson that comes from that.
Di Rita: Last one.
Q: Sir, your lessons learned are going to be parsed for the budgetary implications for '05 and beyond.
Di Rita: Right.
Q: Given what you know now, are we talking relatively low- dollar-volume kind of fixes, and more doctrinal than dollar here, in terms of billions of dollars needed to be spent to fix the things you laid out?
Di Rita: I don't think there's anything in the lessons learned that would inform that decision just yet. I mean, in other words, you can draw -- somebody can sit down and say, "This is what I draw from this." And somebody who's familiar with the platforms and the technology, which the general said wasn't the purpose of the lessons learned, could say, "If I were they, I'd be doing this." At the moment, we're trying to absorb the operational art of what we picked up here, and that will inform sort of how we develop. But it's hard -- I think it would be hard to say that this is, relatively speaking, on this end or that end of a spectrum of cost.
Q: What are you expecting -- material wise?
Cone: Well, I could tell you the specific recommendations that are focused at the operational level of war are, you know, things like the collaborative information environment, things like better C4ISR, things like a joint national training capability. Those things are -- I think they're very high payoff investments, if you look at it, and they're not -- I don't think by order of magnitude, you know, all that significant.
Di Rita: Which doesn't mean that you wouldn't look at this over six months and then start to parse, as you've suggested, and come up with something different -- a different view of it. So, I just would be reluctant to draw specific procurement conclusions out of this study, because that's not what the purpose of it was.
Q: Well, is there a separate group that's set up to do that, or --
Cone: This thing will get pulled, picked -- we'll be looking at it. We've briefed to death -- we've briefed it to death --
Q: (Inaudible.) -- a formal process?
Q: Is there a formal process in --
Di Rita: There is a very aggressive process to try and absorb these lessons, and that's what's going on; that's what this is part of. The general has briefed any number in layers of department leadership.
Q: But for procurement lessons, would that -- you said they'll kind of fall out eventually, but is there a formal process set about to go ahead and do that in six months, whatever?
Di Rita: There are a lot of processes in this department that sort of pull in information. This will now be part of that information in the processes that we have to develop the program for '05, for example, or '06 and beyond. So it's -- that's what we have.
Thank you very kindly, folks.
Q: When are you going to release the report?
Q: Release the slides.
Q: The report itself.
Di Rita: I'm not sure that we're going -- I mean, it's the kind of thing that we're going to try and educate, develop. It's not -- I don't think it's single book that says, "Here. This is ready to be released." It's a lot of different iterations of various slices of the report. I'm not sure that we have an intention to just put it up on the shelf.
Q: I don't mean put it on the shelf, I mean give it to us.
Di Rita: That's what I mean, put it up on the bookshelf.
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