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Thread: Question for CJCS

  1. #1
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Question for CJCS

    I have the opportunity to ask the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) a question. I have formulated a few in my mind but love the wisdom here. Any ideas? If you could ask the CJCS any question what would it be?

    I'm currently looking at asking something along the lines of how the shift in focus from Iraq to Afghanistan will affect future policies in both countries.

    Or it is my perception that currently we are spending more money on technology platforms for the answer in fighting our wars instead of spending money on human platforms; spending the time and money to develop and train soldier skills.
    Last edited by ODB; 02-19-2009 at 04:24 AM.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

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    If you had $5 billion dollars and were given the following choices of how to spend it, which would you choose?
    a) buy aircraft(s)
    b) buy boat(s)
    c) buy armored vehicles
    d) teach Pashtun and tribal customs to 10,000 Soldiers and train them to fight as small units in mountainous terrain

  3. #3
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default From farway

    Mr Chairman, since 9/11/2001 the US military have learnt a lot, how will you ensure we do not forget - however painful to our conventional wisdom?

    or

    Mr Chairman, tommorrow the President and Congress require a 10% cut in defence spending on new systems (not people), to contribute to the economic stimulus. Hard decisions are needed, what one programme would you choose?

    davidbfpo

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Mr Chairman,

    Our current personnel system does not easily allow for unit cohesion or the informal sharing and preservation of combat lessons learned, especially in the officer career fields. Changes here would allow for better units, more solid preservation of lessons learned, and in the long run a more stable force with fewer personnel issues and better leaders at all levels. If you could make one decision or change regarding our military personnel system, what would it be and why?
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default

    Admiral,
    Do you think we suffer from constrained thinking at the Joint and service levels and how does it impede adaptation?
    or you could ask...

    Do you think the Joint Force adequately meets the needs of the Operational CDRs? Why or why not?

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 02-19-2009 at 04:46 PM. Reason: wanted to add to that first question

  6. #6
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default To all thus far

    I appreciate the replies

    10% budget cut along with technology platforms vs. human platforms.

    Rob: Discussed your questions at length today, adaptation at what levels? Adaptation of? Very broad stroke that we took into about 5 different directions, just wondering what you were trying to pin down. Meets the operational CDRs how? Again what level and what needs were you thinking?

    Steve: Most are in agreement, but until we gain control on the tendency to "super size" our staffs we cannot get there. Higher ecelons are always wanting more to fill their staffs. Additionally we need to change career progression requirements to coincide with longer stability. 2 of the key points that came about in discussion today.

    Davidpfbo We always seem to be in this vacuum, interesting thought, any insight on your thinking about lessons learned?
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

  7. #7
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Currently

    I'm leaning towards the new administration's shift in focus from Iraq to Afghanistan and how that will impact us in Iraq, Afghanistan, and what our policy towards Pakistan will be.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

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    Default MY 2 cents

    Jason, you might try something along these lines:

    Admiral, I've been a conventional soldier with combat tours and now am SF. How do you see making the most effective use of SF capabilities working with the conventional military in the kind of asymmetric warfare we find ourselves fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq?

    Cheers

    JohnT

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    Default

    I wonder if the CJCS is following the thread so he'll be prepared for the question when it comes...
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  10. #10
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Admiral,

    Facts show that:
    1. Bin Laden is clearly on record that his top priority is the overthrow of the Saudi Royal family, with a supporting objective of removing U.S. influence from the Kingdom specifically, but from the region in general;
    2. The attacks of 9/11 and support to the Iraqi insurgency by his Al Queda Network were manned by 75% Saudi insurgents on the former, and some 40% Saudi insurgents ("foreign fighters") on the latter.
    3. Appear to be clear metrics both AQN and the dissident segment of the Saudi populace agree that breaking the support of the US to the King is the condition precedent to successfully changing the governance of Saudi Arabia.

    Given this, how is it that the Populace of Saudi Arabia is any less of a threat to U.S. national interests than the Government of Iran is? And while we hear much talk about efforts to contain the state threat coming from Tehran, what can you tell us about a comprehensive program of engagement designed to disempower Bin Laden's message to the Saudi people, while at the same time transitioning their perception of the U.S. as being an obstacle to self-determined governmental reform, to instead being an enabler of the same?
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    How ironic that I, the guy who posed the first, and probably worst, question recommendation would now offer the following...

    1) What types of issues is the CJCS currently focused on and/or what types of issues will he be focused on? A question relevant to one or both of those seems like it has the best chance of drawing a good response.

    2) Can the answer to your question be answered in anything other than broad, sweeping generalizations at the unclassified level (I presume this question will not be asked in a SCIF)?

    3) Will the question be perceived by the Admiral as a smartass trying to play a game of "gotcha"?

    None of the questions posed led me to offer those points. It just crossed my mind as I rethought what would be a good question. I think that if I were given 30 seconds notice that I were meeting with him, I'd probably just ask him: "do you think this GWOT thing is gonna work out?" or "Can you recommend stock for any particular defense contractor?"

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    Council Member Surferbeetle's Avatar
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    Default Sometimes it's all about the benjamins...

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    How ironic that I, the guy who posed the first, and probably worst, question recommendation would now offer the following...

    None of the questions posed led me to offer those points. It just crossed my mind as I rethought what would be a good question. I think that if I were given 30 seconds notice that I were meeting with him, I'd probably just ask him: "do you think this GWOT thing is gonna work out?" or "Can you recommend stock for any particular defense contractor?"
    GE @ $9.06 below book value, it's getting very ugly out there and GE capital may still have some surprises hidden up its sleeve

    again.

    ODB,

    Question-wise Janie Davidson, Operationalizing the Comprehensive Approach: The Military as “Enabler…”, has some good ones which I can't improve upon while eating a quick lunch and surfing SWJ.

    I would say her observation about functional communication among all of the players is key to our success or failure and might be something that I would mention to the Admiral:

    Information Sharing: As the stability operations manual makes clear, a comprehensive approach requires a “3C’s” approach to “coordinate, collaborate, and cooperate.” None of this can occur without a 4th C: “communicate.” Unfortunately, a competing imperative for cyber security has meant that our ability to communicate with each other within the government – much less with outside agencies – has been stymied. In the Pentagon, flash drives are outlawed and encrypted messages are sometimes blocked by the State Department. This can send frustrated government workers to their personal emails to get their jobs done, thus undermining the efforts of the IT professionals. Although the cyber threat may be real, if we cannot find ways to communicate in these civil-military environments, our efforts to operationalize the comprehensive approach will be for naught.
    As an aside, it's snowing in Beijing thanks to cloud seeding. One of my friends wonders about the cost/benefit ratio for Afghanistan's water woes...

    Best,

    Steve
    Sapere Aude

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Rob: Discussed your questions at length today, adaptation at what levels? Adaptation of? Very broad stroke that we took into about 5 different directions, just wondering what you were trying to pin down. Meets the operational CDRs how? Again what level and what needs were you thinking?
    No, I've learned that when I get an opportunity to ask guys at that level a question it is often good to build in the flexibility to let them take it where they want to go some. Often they will give me a better answer than my question deserved and then ask if they answered my question - at which point you might get a freebie and get to ask them something that only came up as a result of their answer.

    If you were going to pin him down though -

    I'd be interested in hearing about adaptation in the generating force - anything more specific may be to focused.

    With respect to meeting the Operational requirements of CDRs I think its probably appropriate to keep it at the JTF, Sub Unified CMD, GCC and special (the -I and STCA Cmds). He may have to get into the lower echelons to talk about it. It seems we are understanding there are more and more discreet capabilities and ESS (Enabler Support and Sustainment) functions that are needed but they are not easy to generate under the generation and employment paradigm we've built.

    Best, Rob

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    Osama Bin Laden's strategy is to bankrupt the United States. With the current economic crisis being called the worst since the Great Depression, how is the military going to adapt if the defense budgets are cut significantly over the next few years, and why are we playing into Bin Laden's strategy in the first place by spending close to $1T on defense annually?

    (yeah, it's two questions, but the linkage is important)
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I've been in Q and A sessions with ADM Mullen, and he is very candid in these sessions, and if he can't answer your question there, he will take your email address and get back with you personally as soon as he has the answer.

    One timely topic (given the recent DoD directive and the pending QDR work) is on Irregular Warfare.

    Perhaps: "The recent Directive describes IW as a form of war, which is widely rejected throughout the interagency community and by our key partner allies. Do you really believe that we are in an era of perpetual irregular warfare, or is what we are trying to describe with this concept really an irregular environment in which all types of war and peace will occur?"
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  16. #16
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    One timely topic (given the recent DoD directive and the pending QDR work) is on Irregular Warfare.
    Hey how about - "Sir - can you give me a new definiton for IW that will make Frank Hoffman's part with his bottle of Scotch he promised on SWJ?"

  17. #17
    Council Member ODB's Avatar
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    Default Meeting complete

    The 10% budget cut question was asked and answered. Not coming from personnel or current equipment, but if a cut was required it would come from R&D.

    Iraq vs Afghanistan came up. Quite a lengthy answer with much of the focus actually being on Pakistan.

    IW vs Conventional. Conventional is losing some buget to IW, and much of the focus is going IW as well.

    Enablers. Need more of them, but does not know how to get them without increasing the current force cap. Example he used helicopters, where we have 6000 but only 900 in the fight. Wants to know what the other 5100 are doing and why aren't we using them properly. Everyone wants more yet we have 5100 not in the fight. The services are not going to get any bigger.

    Tried to give a quick highlight of the meeting without too much detail, but that answer many of the questions poised here.
    ODB

    Exchange with an Iraqi soldier during FID:

    Why did you not clear your corner?

    Because we are on a base and it is secure.

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