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Military Owes Civilian Leaders More Clarity, Dunford Says

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

The military owes national leaders better clarity in the military dimension of U.S. power, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Center for Strategic and International Studies forum here today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford discussed defense reform in the broad sense and what needs to happen to make the military dimension work better.

The first thing the military should provide a defense secretary is “a common operational picture and a common intelligence picture,” the general said. “He needs to be able to see the fight,” he explained.

Strategy Development

As he concentrates on military strategy development, Dunford said, he will assess the challenges posed by the threats of Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and Islamic extremism and look at the specific threats they pose. He also will consider factors such as budget cuts that influence those threats, he added.

“Today I think we go from policy to [operation plans],” he said. “And what I would tell you is operation plans aggregated do not a strategy make. And so what we actually need is a strategic framework within which those OPLANs are made.”

This does not mean that there is not a strategic framework at the policy level, he said, noting that this framework exists. He is talking about military ways, ends and means informed by policy, he explained.

End State

“The end state of that strategy needs to be viable options in a crisis or contingency that are flexible enough to anticipate, a wide range of challenges, as opposed to what I describe as the science of war, which is the OPLANs, which will tell you how the planes, trains and automobiles need to move in order to get to the fight,” he said. “What it doesn’t do is give you the kind of intellectual rigor that will allow you to think through a problem and provide options to the president real time in a crisis.”

Dunford used intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance as an example. “We can’t buy more Predators,” he said. “We can’t have more [combat air patrols] and think that we’re getting out of the problem. So if you talk about an area where something disruptive is necessary, something innovative is necessary, … ‘What information do we need to make decisions and how do we get that information?’ is the question we’re trying to solve, not how can we afford to buy more CAPs.”

The chairman said he believes that by the end of the year, the Joint Chiefs will have a refined strategy for dealing with these challenges.

“We’ll have a refined approach to what are the priorities for capability development and innovation,” he said, “where we don’t have a clear path towards capability development.”

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)