Archive for the 'Homeland Security' Category
Thursday morning, Under Secretary of the Navy (and more importantly, former Marine artilleryman) Robert O. Work skilfully executed his own “pivot”. Secretary Work had intended to deliver remarks regarding the program choices associated with the recently-released Defense budget. Well, you go to the podium with the speech you have, not the one you wish you had. It seems SECNAV was not going to publicly comment until later in the day, so Secretary Work chose not to publicly do so ahead of that, and instead delivered an enthusiastic and decidedly upbeat address on the challenges and opportunities facing the Navy-Marine Corps Team in the coming century.
Secretary Work referenced former CJCS Admiral Mullen’s talk of the previous day, and lived up to his well-deserved reputation for his grasp of history and its relevance to future events. Diverging from Admiral Mullen’s views of the uniqueness of the path ahead, Secretary Work outlined the challenges faced by President Eisenhower in 1953, an ongoing war far larger than the current and recent conflicts combined, an existential threat from a peer enemy about to detonate a thermonuclear device of their own, faltering allies asking for assistance in remote regions of the globe, and an electorate very tired of war. Indeed his example speaks to the tendency to consider present challenges as groundbreaking and unprecedented, when in point of fact, they are usually not nearly quite so.
Secretary Work proceeded to provide a Huntington-esque perspective on the history of America’s military eras, as defined by salient policy events. That perspective is worth summarizing here.
The Continental Era
July 4th 1776 to December 1, 1890
America’s Army was dominant, with an intermittent and largely coastal (with notable exceptions) Navy and small Marine Corps, no overseas bases, and a focus on western expansion across the North American continent. The era ended with the tragic events at Wounded Knee, which was the last of the frontier fights. During the Continental Era, for every month the United States was at war, she spends approximately six months at peace.
The Trans-Oceanic Era
December 1, 1890 to March 12, 1947
America becomes a two-ocean Mahanian maritime nation once and for all, and after massive military commitment to winning two world wars, is a world power with overseas bases, with far-flung interests, and security commitments to allies and former adversaries (whom we have to build up from virtual ruin) on almost every continent. The era ends with the announcement of the Truman Doctrine, and the beginning of the Cold War. For every month of war during the Trans-Oceanic Era, there are 5.2 months of peace.
The Cold War
March 12, 1947 to May 12, 1989
Containment of the Soviet Union, a peer adversary, which dominates Eastern Europe and makes serious inroads in Asia, southern Europe, and Latin America. Large wars in Korea and Vietnam, the respective growth and contraction of the US Military in the aftermath of those wars, and lots of little wars by proxy, and an existential threat of Soviet first strike. The Cold War is declared over on May 12, 1989, by President George H W Bush. Indeed, in 1990-91, forces from Europe are sent to Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War, more than a year before the final collapse of the Soviet Union. In this increasingly active era, aside from a Cold War for the entirety, for each month of hot war, the United States is only at peace for 2.67 months.
The Global Era
May 12, 1989 to December 31, 2011
Two wars in Iraq, 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, protracted and expensive efforts at nation-building are the events of the most active time for America’s military in her entire history. For every month at war during this Global Era, America will have just 1.08 months of peace. The Global Era ends, according to Secretary Work, with the end of the war in Iraq
The beginning of 2012 is the beginning of the “Naval Century”.
This era, says Secretary Work, will be one of global American sea power, focused on the western Pacific, always a maritime region, and the Middle East, which is becoming increasingly so.
Secretary Work asserts that this nation’s military, its people and equipment, are tired out. They need to be refreshed, revitalized, and allowed to recover from the strain of two protracted wars. And the military needs to shrink. Especially in manpower, the single highest cost category.
I reproduce Secretary Work’s perspective in near entirety because I believe it is cogent and well-thought, from someone whose grasp of history is superb, and because it is worthwhile. It also allows us to put current conditions in context. Some of his points are excellent, and provide an insight into how Mr. Work thinks of what he calls the Total Force Battle Network and its shape in the coming decades.
This Total Force Battle Network will be characterized by a Navy-Marine Corps team capable of forcible entry and power projection globally, and an ability to keep vital SLOCs open to freedom of navigation. This Naval force will be characterized by thoroughly networked platforms and weapons, unmanned systems in all three dimensions, with technology-enabled combat power second to none. An increased emphasis on SOF throughout the services, Navy and Marine Corps included, and a more capable maritime domain awareness using unmanned and manned platforms to cover vital areas nationally and globally. Forward presence in vital regions will be credibly maintained. This force will be maintained and sustained by personnel strengths equal to the task, a break from the “optimal manning” experiment that went “too far”.
This will also be a force that is used less frequently than were forces in the Global Era, allowing for time to train and maintain, and to test and experiment with new technologies and new methods of employment. And, passionately, Mr. Work reminded us that the people who make up our Naval forces, Sailors and Marines, will remain the single greatest asset the Total Force Battle Network can employ. They will remain the professional, motivated, educated young warriors that are exemplified by CDR Ernest Evans, who told his crew of Johnston (DD- 557) “This is a fighting ship, and I intend to take her into harm’s way!”. And at Samar, when eight Japanese capital ships appeared on the horizon, turned his destroyer toward the vastly superior force and interject his little ship in between the Japanese and the escort carriers of his task force. The decision cost him his ship and his life, but helped save the Task Force and possibly the Leyte landings further south. It also earned CDR Evans a posthumous Medal of Honor. Our people and our Navy and Marine Corps will do the things that are required to be the best in the world, because, as in the past, they will be “great by choice”.
Secretary Work’s words should be inspirational to any Sailor or Marine who takes pride in his service. The Navy Undersecretary is definitely on our side. He is a man who says what he means and means what he says. The coming cuts, the $480 billion in the next ten years, are challenging but workable. They represent a drawdown of some 24% of the US Military, which Mr. Work points out is rather less than that of other post-war draw-downs, including the years of the “Peace Dividend” following the Cold War and Desert Storm. His was definitely a tone of confidence in the future of our Naval forces.
I hope he is correct. I hope we have a strategy commensurate with our capabilities, and our reach doesn’t exceed our grasp. And that our focus on SOF and unmanned systems will not require the “Plan B” of conventional forces in great numbers, because they simply will not be there. Whatever the numbers of ships, systems, and personnel we settle on, that cannot be the starting point for the ill-conceived concept of further pinching of pennies by chasing temporary savings (“Optimal Manning”, deferring maintenance, retiring warships at half their service lives) that result in driving up long-term costs and reducing effectiveness.
And I hope he is right about sequestration. Because, as upbeat and slightly sanguine as Secretary Work’s words were, even he admits that the cuts that would come in that event will devastate our nation’s defenses and make any meaningful National Military Strategy impossible.
“…now it is time to think!”
This statement, alternately attributed to Winston Churchill and Ernest Rutherford, was the baseline theme of all of yesterday’s speaking and panel sessions here at USNI/AFCEA West 2012.
But is it a fair statement? And is it accurate?
The implication of that statement is that senior military and civilian officials in the Defense Department have been accustomed to throwing money at problems rather than thinking through a solution. And this questionable practice is the reason for “bloated” Defense budgets in the post-9/11 world.
I disagree. While undoubtedly there are inefficiencies in Defense spending, and more can be purchased for the dollars spent, I simply don’t buy into the notion that the statement implies.
Much is made of the “doubling” of the Defense budget between 2000 and 2011, but little is said of the effects of the “Peace Dividend” and the acquisition “holiday” of the 1990s. In yesterday’s shipbuilding panel, of which more will be written soon, Mr. Mike Petters from Huntington Ingalls Industries (the shipbuilder formerly known as Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock, among other names) gave us some interesting insights as to the effects such uneven procurement and “holidays” have on building ships. The cost to the manufacturer of sitting idle, and of sudden restart at a surge level, is considerable. Elsewhere, in the Navy-Marine Corps Team panel, there was also significant discussion of the very real problems experienced by prime and sub-contractors when production drops below minimums for business solvency, or unpredictable dry spells and cancellations occur.
The costs of fighting two wars that represent a level of commitment of a single Major Regional Conflict (MRC) in 1990s parlance undoubtedly drove up Defense budgets, with personnel increases for the Army and the Marine Corps, operating costs, ammunition and fuel, aircraft and ground equipment maintenance and repair, and rapid acquisitions of vital equipment like MRAP vehicles as the dollar drivers. Many of those rapid acquisitions centered on burgeoning technology and unanticipated requirements, and anticipated requirements that had not been met (up-armored M1114 HMMWVs) in anywhere near sufficient numbers over the previous decade.
However, I cannot agree that the services, especially the notoriously tight-fisted Marine Corps, suddenly spent the last decade as profligate spenders without rhyme or reason, as if they had their parents’ credit card on a college weekend. If they did, then such did not occur at the tactical level.
Today, with US military involvement with Iraq at an end, and Afghanistan employing a small fraction of the US Military (90,000 of 1.44 million, just 6.2% of personnel), the “pivot” of the focus of our military to the Pacific region and the execution of the Cooperative Strategy requires meaningful commitment of adequate resources to counter the capabilities of a fast-rising near-peer in China.
While comments from each of the speakers and most panel members were couched in terms of required and critical capabilities, there was acknowledgement of the budget axe that will be the final arbiter of which capabilities we can afford, and which we cannot. Where and when that axe falls will determine this nation’s ability to execute its National Military Strategy, and by extension, its National Security Strategy.
Doing “more with less”, another phrase often heard yesterday, is a hackneyed and trite bit of platitude that is a signal that what we truly have is not a capabilities-based Defense budget, but budget-constrained Defense capabilities. You do not do more with less, you do less with less. That, whether it is a popular sentiment or not, is an inviolate fact of life. To the vast preponderance of the men and women of the US Military, who have always done as much as possible with what was given them through two protracted wars, the idea that thinking only takes place when all the money has been spent is an affront to them and is dismissive of their courage and commitment.
If I don’t hear Churchill’s words applied to our Military ever again, it will be too soon. If there is a ringing of truth in them, it should be in the ears of those who wear stars and wide gold stripes. The rest of us have been thinking all along.
The morning panel discussion at USNI West 2012 was entitled “The Navy-Marine Corps Team: Hang Together or Hang Separately?”
Excellently moderated by Frank Hoffman, the panel members were:
VADM Gerald Beaman, Commander, Third Fleet
VADM John Blake, DCNO, Integration, Capabilities, and Resources (N8)
BGen Dan O’ Donohue, Capabilities Development Directorate, HQMC
MajGen Melvin Spiese, Deputy CG, I MEF
Panelists were unanimous in their comments as to the new appreciation of the truly integrated nature of the Navy-Marine Corps team, and the necessity of that close and long-standing relationship as US focus “pivots” toward the Western Pacific. The unique combined capabilities of the Navy-Marine Corps team to project power globally and to gain entry, as Admiral Vern Clark once stated, “without a permission slip”, was acknowledged to be as important in the coming decade as it has ever been in our nation’s history.
As such, the integration of Navy-Marine Corps fixed-wing air, the maintenance and enhancement of amphibious assault capability, and the return of the Marine Corps to its nautical roots after two protracted land campaigns, all were indicators of the new-found sense of teamwork between the services. Several panel members commented pointedly on just how closely the guidance of CNO Admiral Greenert and Marine Commandant General Amos align. This is not coincidental, as in the coming budget challenges the Department of the Navy, which includes the Marine Corps, needs the capabilities of each of the respective services to execute the Maritime Strategy in the growing A2AD environment. Joint Operational Access must indeed be accomplished jointly, with each service enhancing and complementing the capabilities and mission sets of the other.
This represents a much more harmonious situation than the somewhat discordant voices (behind the scenes, at least) which were heard in the last several years. That is good news. Because the assertion of how much each service needs the other to operate in the vast expanse of the ocean to our west is difficult to overstate.
There was much discussion regarding the F-35B, which General Spiese termed the most important program in the Marine Corps. He stated that its capabilities to operate off big-deck amphibs and high sortie generation rate are keys to USMC warfighting doctrine. With a current and near-future paucity of sustainable Naval surface fire support, General Spiese’s assertion is spot-on.
A question to the panel from your humble author regarded identified capabilities gaps, lack of viable NSFS, and mine warfare, specifically counter-mine capabilities. As the Amphibious Operations Area expands exponentially, a necessary result of fielding of longer-range systems of delivery (MV-22, a future ACV), those two tasks in particular have been flagged as being an even greater gap than exists with current systems and methods. (Simply, the farther from shore the amphibs launch the landing force, and the farther inland the Ospreys can execute vertical envelopment, then the larger the mine-clearing task and the more expansive the target list. This is true even if the landing area is lightly defended.)
The answers were instructive, as Admiral Beaman asserted that prioritization of systems in the current budget environment might mean modification of requirements. Moderator Frank Hoffman identified the need for a low-cost and high-volume FS system to fill the gap until newer systems are fielded (rail gun, possibly) and existing systems improved. (An ability to UNREP VLS, perhaps?)
BGen O’Donohue talked in positive terms about the mine-clearing module of the LCS, and it is clear there is a tremendous amount riding on the success of that system. Admiral Blake explained that the migration is taking place from current methods of mine clearance where the sailor is in the mine field to methods where the sailor is not, and the clearance is performed remotely.
The panel espoused the distinct and realistic view that the current proliferation of A2AD systems make for a very challenging operating environment, and the emergence of a near-peer potential adversary in China raises the ante for getting it right with our Naval forces. But at least those challenges will be met together by the Navy-Marine Corps team.
This week in San Diego, USNI/AFCEA West 2012 will be examining the issues and challenges associated with a US Military that has reached a “crossroads”.
As has happened so many times in the last century, the signposts to that crossroads are fiscal and not operational. Even with the drawdown in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan employing just a small fraction (about 90,000) of the 1.44 million US servicemen and women, the driving forces for the coming cuts are budget shortfalls, and spiraling national debt.
Panel sessions include discussion of the future of the Navy-Marine Corps Team (which doubtless will encompass amphibious capabilities), information and INFOSEC requirements for Naval forces, the balance between the warfighting head and the logistics tail, and the looming question of our new Pacific orientation, China.
Speakers include former CJCS Admiral Mullen, Navy Undersecretary (and former Marine Artilleryman) Robert Work, David Hartman, and Medal of Honor Winner SFC Leroy Petry, USA.
As usual, USNI will have a reinforced fire team of bloggers to tell you about it. The unit symbol is below. We will begin in a wedge formation for all around security and flexibility, and then we will do whatever SWMBO tells us to.
If you are going to ask tough questions, and give tough answers, San Diego in January is a pretty good place to do it. The forecast in Vermont is for snow.
Any pretense of a hopeful outcome from the so-called “Arab Spring” is all but gone. The Guardian reported at the beginning of this month that the Islamists will be the wielders of power in Egypt, and their agenda is precisely what those who warned of their rise feared it would be.
Two once-banned Islamist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Salaf Nour Party, appear to be the big winners of Egypt’s Parliamentary elections. Their plans for Egypt are abundantly clear, expressed in terms that should cause concern in the West, and already do in Israel.
Guided by a Saudi-inspired school of thought, Salafists have long shunned the concept of democracy, saying it allows man’s law to override God’s. But they decided to form parties and enter politics after the exit of Mubarak in February.
Salafi groups speak confidently about their ambition to turn Egypt into a state where personal freedoms, including freedom of speech, women’s dress and art, are constrained by sharia.
“In the land of Islam, I can’t let people decide what is permissible or what is prohibited. It’s God who gives the answers as to what is right and what is wrong,” Hamad said. “If God tells me you can drink whatever you want except for alcohol, you don’t leave the million things permitted and ask about the prohibited.”
While there are ideological differences between the Brotherhood and the Salafists, those differences are far narrower than those that exist between either of those groups and anyone else on Egypt’s political scene. Talk of any major rift that would prevent a coalition is wishful thinking, and similar assertions by leaders of the groups themselves are for public consumption and somewhat less than genuine. Interestingly, the Guardian article describes the Muslim Brotherhood as the more “moderate” of the two Islamist groups. This is the very same Muslim Brotherhood that openly admired Hitler’s Third Reich, and enthusiastically supported the Final Solution. Positions which, tellingly, they have never renounced.
Leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood Hamed Saeed’s words sound an unwelcome thunderclap in the ears of Western diplomats. Saeed declared last January that “unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States.”
And so it has, and is not finished yet. There was nothing spontaneous about it. Western leaders, including our own, have been thoroughly outmaneuvered, as have any moderates who had hoped in those early days of the “Arab Spring” for a permanence of the new liberties they believed they’d won.
If the scenario rings eerily familiar, it should.
More than two years have passed since the Jihad-inspired cold-blooded murder of 12 US Soldiers and one DoD civilian at Fort Hood. An act committed by a man whose radical Islamist views were well known to his chain of command and his peers. By a man who shouted “Allahu Akbar” over and over again while shooting nearly fifty people, killing 13 and wounding 32. By a man who had exchanged more than a dozen e-mails with a radical Islamist, drawing inspiration for the attack from a man, Anwar al-Awliki, whom the Administration targeted for killing as an enemy of the United States, and who labeled the attacker at Fort Hood a hero and martyr for Islam.
Yet, the Defense Department is calling the incident “workplace violence”.
From the Greeley (CO) Gazette:
Witnesses said Hasan passed up several chances to shoot civilians, but instead chose to concentrate exclusively on soldiers in uniform.
Following the attack, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said the attack had nothing to do with Islam. It was claimed that Hasan’s murderous rampage was the fault of Army officials who ordered him to deploy to Afghanistan.
Hasan’s radical views regarding Islam were well-known. Once, while presenting a medical lecture to other psychiatrists, Hasan talked about Islam, stating that non-believers would go to hell decapitated, set on fire and have burning oil poured down their throats.
Had Major Hasan managed to plant a bomb aboard a bus that killed thirteen and wounded thirty-two, would that still be workplace violence? The motivation, the target, the results, would all be the same. The only difference would be the method.
The political correctness with which this massacre was treated has been a despicable, shameful display of avoiding the truth. This includes General Casey’s disgraceful and stomach-turning lament about the incident harming the Army’s diversity efforts. Secretary Gates’ PC-inspired unwillingness to comment upon the nature of Hasan’s motivations in the Defense report is equally egregious. The comments by Vern Clark and Togo West that the investigation shouldn’t concern itself with “motivation” are pathetic and dangerous pandering to political correctness.
Secretary Panetta has the opportunity to correct this travesty and this deliberate misrepresentation of the terrible truth. Which is that the US Army commissioned, and then promoted, an Islamic Jihadist to the Field Grade ranks. They ignored the myriad warnings of his conduct and his radical viewpoint, or were unwilling to confront Hasan and take appropriate action. And, that when Hasan went on his killing rampage, his actions were in the same spirit and motivation as the 9/11 hijackers, the Little Rock shooters, and the Fort Dix plotters.
What it will take is some courage and character, and a willingness to break out of the stifling repression of political correctness. The Secretary should revise the report to reflect what we all know the Fort Hood tragedy to be. A terrorist act committed by a radical Islamist against US Service members, on American soil. That is the truth.
Calling Fort Hood something other than terrorism is a deliberate lie. A lie perpetuated by the desire for political correctness above all things, including the truth.
Suffolk (MA) University Law School professor Michael Avery tells us:
I think it is shameful that it is perceived as legitimate to solicit in an academic institution for support for men and women who have gone overseas to kill other human beings. I understand that there is a residual sympathy for service members, perhaps engendered by support for troops in World War II, or perhaps from when there was a draft and people with few resources to resist were involuntarily sent to battle. That sympathy is not particularly rational in today’s world, however.
But wait, he has more to say:
Since Sept. 11 we have had perhaps the largest flag in New England hanging in our atrium. This is not a politically neutral act. Excessive patriotic zeal is a hallmark of national security states… Why do we continue to have this oversized flag in our lobby?
That kind of “civil-military divide” cannot be breached. Suffolk University Law School should consider carefully just whom they allow in the front of their classrooms. One has to wonder if Professor Avery could explain his views to a man such as this. I have my doubts.
Amid the elation inside Libya, and much self-congratulations in the United States and NATO, news of the overthrow and execution of Muammar Qaddafi by Libyan rebels has overshadowed events that are far less promising and welcome.
The Telegraph is reporting that, on the heels of Libya’s “liberation” at the death last Thursday of Qaddafi, an event that finished for good his four decades of despotic oppression, the leader of the Transitional Council has announced a much more stringent adherence to Sharia Law. The implications of this are far-reaching, and the move appears to be much more than a symbolic nod to Islam as the country’s dominant religion. It is an indication that the “revolution” in Libya has had heavy Islamist involvement, including Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and The Muslim Brotherhood, something many have suspected since the beginning of the unrest. It is also an indication that Libya will be marching backward, away from the international community:
Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.
In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.
The Telegraph article concludes:
Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.
It isn’t hard to imagine just what the “democratic process” will look like under Islamists’ enforcing Sharia law. The Libyans’ 42-year nightmare may be over. Perhaps only to be replaced by another that may last much longer.
There are myriad lessons to be taken from Libya’s situation and her apparent regressive path.
In the “Libya model”, allying oneself with unknown entities of unknown allegiance against a dictator’s regime, and then fighting by proxy through those entities, even superpowers relinquish control of events. Without significant friendly presence on the ground, the goals and objectives of those unknown entities trump your goals, whether you intended them or not, which can lead to potentially severe unintended consequences that make the cure worse than the disease. There are practical matters as well, the location and possession of some 20,000 SA-24 MANPADS, and stockpiles of HD (sulphur mustard) munitions being among them. Revenge against regime supporters, persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, perpetrated by the people we aided in bringing to power, undoubtedly will be the order of the day.
As events follow their unwelcome course in Libya, and we find ourselves with virtually no means to influence them other than with proclamations, it is time to face the somewhat unwelcome truth that this revolution looks far closer to Teheran in 1979 than we care to admit. And worse, this time we helped drive those events without any means of control. When the final bill comes due for Libya, the cost may astound us.
- Al Qaeda flag flies over courthouse in Libya
Nope, nothing to see here, folks.
Seems events in post-Qaddafi Libya have run quite close to prediction. Violence and revenge in the wake of civil war on the part of the “good guys” against any known or suspected regime members. Or black migrant laborers, rival villages, tribes, militias, property holders, take your pick. This from The Independent:
The winning anti-Gaddafi militia are not proving merciful. Often they have had relatives killed in the fighting or imprisoned by the old regime who they want to avenge. Sometimes they come from tribes and towns traditionally hostile to neighbouring tribes and towns. Gaddafi supporters are being hunted down. According to one person in Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte, they are facing a “continuing reign of terror”.
“There is a deep and spreading frenzy, particularly among some of the youth militia and the Islamists, to hunt down anyone associated with the former regime,” the source said.
And just to show that the violence isn’t all religious or ideological, this:
The purge of Gaddafi supporters is made more dangerous by the infighting between the militias, and between them and the politicians. Association with the old regime can be used to discredit an opponent. There may also be self-interest since death squads are reported to be taking their property.
Not quite what we had in mind when we decided to go to the window to back a horse in this race. Unintended consequences. Predictable, sadly, but unintended.
Fouled Anchor Intro: This post appears at the request of a leader in the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) and its Self-Synchronization Team, known as the IDCSync. While the subject may appear a bit specialized on the surface, the concept should have wide appeal, particularly for other relatively small communities. It should also be of interest to members of other warfare communities, arguably beneficiaries of the IDC’s specialized skills, and the IDC can only benefit from your comments and contributions.
I was compelled to ask before posting it how are the discussions, since many take place on Facebook, are they anonymous. Well, Facebook obviously isn’t, but many of the ideas shared via IDCSync appear in their weekly newsletter. They are submitted anonymously or come from other non-attributed sources. They may originate anywhere, from offline discussions to passing comments or unofficial gripes. It is proving an effective means of converting ideas which may have died in the passageway to discussions with a Flag audience.
There are many outlets for this type of post, but the IDCSync sought publication here, on your USNI Blog, because they understand that this blog has Navy-wide relevance and reach…much like the IDC itself.
In the spirit of taking permission, demonstrating horizontal leadership, and active communication, the below post comes from the “Cloud of Collaboration” that is the Information Dominance Corps Self-Synchronization Team…
“Fostering Collaboration and Conversation Across the IDC”
They have never met in person, individually or as a group, yet they are a team in the strongest sense of the word. They volunteer their time. Their work is strictly unofficial. Their individual anonymity ensures only the group as a whole gains credit for their actions. Their collective efforts enable collaboration and ensure collective situational awareness across a newly-formed community. They are self-starters who believe in “making time” for the collective good of that community. They are the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) Self Synchronization Team.
The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) ordered the establishment of the IDC on October 6, 2009. As outlined in OPNAV Instruction 5300.12, “the IDC has been created within the U.S. Navy to more effectively and collaboratively lead and manage a cadre of officers, enlisted, and civilian professionals who possess skills in information-intensive fields.” Those personnel include Information Professional (IP) officers and Information Technicians (IT), Information Warfare (IW) officers and Cryptologic Technicians (CT), Naval Intelligence officers and Intelligence Specialists (IS), Oceanography (OCEANO) officers and Aerographer’s Mates (AG), select members of the Space Cadre, and associated civilians. Under the leadership of the newly-established Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Dominance (OPNAV N2/N6) the IDC encompasses more than 47,000 Navy professionals.
The IDC Self Synchronization effort — IDCsync for short — began shortly after the IDC was established with just one person and an idea: Find a way to bring the members of the IDC together using the latest in collaboration and communication tools.
That individual effort soon grew with the addition of a number of like-minded individuals. Today, the IDCsync Team is as diverse as the IDC itself with team members hailing from the ranks of active and reserve force enlisted and officer ranks, as well as civilian members of the community. Their guiding principle is “making time;” each member makes time to make their environment, their shipmates, and the entire IDC better.
The group’s greatest strength, beyond its members, is its unofficial status. This is a grassroots effort of IDC members working for and with other IDC members to move the community forward. As an independent initiative, the individual efforts of the team members are not constrained by anything more than the group’s collective approval. But as IDC members themselves, the group has a vested interest in forwarding a productive, collaborative dialogue aimed at improving the IDC as a whole.
Tools and Channels
To reach the members of the IDC, the IDCsync Team employs a number of channels drawn from the tools of the trade of the information age (and the IDC) — email (using a newsletter format), the web, and various social media venues.
Most of the effort is concentrated on the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook site, which currently serves over 2,000 members. The page’s stated purpose is “To share unclassified information, enhance our collective situational awareness and facilitate the development of a common Navy IDC culture.”
IDCsync Team members independently post information relevant to the IDC on the Facebook page, coordinating their efforts electronically via a team coordination site and online chat. Information shared runs the gamut of the IDC interest areas — technology, innovation, and leadership issues included. if it’s deemed pertinent to the IDC, it is posted on the site. The ultimate goal is to spark conversation and collaboration between members.
In recognition of its growing audience and increasing reach, the site has been used by members of the IDC Flag Deck to disseminate official correspondence and reach the greater IDC collective. IDCsync’s audience includes everyone from the backbone of the IDC, our enlisted Sailors, to commanding officers, current and former IDC Flag Officers, and civilian Senior Executive Service (SES) staff. Administrators and site members alike can post information, share ideas, and collaborate.
The primary IDC Self Synchronization web site contains pertinent IDC documents and resources with the intent of creating a “one stop” library of information.
The team also sends out a weekly newsletter which encapsulates Facebook posts for the previous week. The same information is also disseminated via Twitter, Google+ (Google’s new social networking site), and eChirp on Intelink-U. Details of all the venues are available on the web page.
With the IDC Self Synchronization team and tools in place, the only missing element is you.
Does the idea of sharing, collaborating, and enhancing the professional knowledge of the community resonate with you? Then now is the time to step out of the audience and join the conversation. Join your community conversation by visiting the IDC Self Synchronization Facebook and web sites today. The forum belongs to you — make it your own!
IDC Self Synchronization Team
Same as the old boss. At least for now.
As London’s Financial Times reports today, Egypt’s Army is clamping down on the embryonic civil liberties which many of those who took to the streets in the “Arab Spring” thought they had won when the Mubarak regime dissolved.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in power during a promised transition to elected rule, said on Sunday night that it was widening emergency legislation to cover a range of “threats to public order” including “attacks on the freedom to work” – code for strikes – and the deliberate dissemination of rumours and false information.“The most dangerous thing is that they have amended the emergency law to cover what they consider crimes committed by journalists,” said Gamal Fahmy, a board member of the journalists union. “The text is vague and can stretch to cover all sorts of criticism of the authorities.”
Putting the lid back on the pot in Egypt will be a task of considerable difficulty, if it can be accomplished at all. The competing interests, most of which are mutually exclusive to the others, are summed up nicely by FT:
Liberal and Islamist groups are clamouring to influence the political arrangements of the transition; young activists have been mobilising rallies to call for radical changes to break with repressive practises of the past; labour strikes have multiplied; and the country is in the grip of a crime wave.
“It is an attempt to regain control of the situation using the same security methods for which President Mubarak was criticised. In my view this reflects a state of confusion.” said Nasser Amin, who heads the Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary, a legal civil society group.
Amin’s assertion that “a state of confusion” exists, is indicative of the power vacuum inside Egypt in the months following Mubarak’s ouster. Nature, and revolution, abhor a vacuum. That power void will be filled by the group most able to impose its will upon the situation and understands how to most quickly and securely seize the levers of power and authority. Not surprisingly, the group in Egypt whose goal has been just that for eight decades, Islamism in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, is rearing its head once more. They, as former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recently said, “may be by far the best-organized political organization and the most disciplined, and very likely the most vicious”.
The Muslim Brotherhood has created its own political party, Freedom and Justice, in order to position itself to make inroads into Egypt’s Parliament as well as in the tide of demonstrations in the streets of Egypt’s cities. If they are successful, then the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood will be felt on both sides of the revolutionary barricades.
Hijacking popular sentiment and steering them toward one’s own purposes, the “Popular Front” tactic, is as old as revolution in modern government itself. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has eyed that strategy for its entire existence. The playing on the fears and prejudices of a long-oppressed people tends to be far more effective than appeals to such fragile and uncertain concepts as personal liberties. The history of the last century has taught us time and again that, in the contest between radicals (left or right) and liberals, the radicals tend to hold the winning hand. When those holding power, in this case the Egyptian Army, see a threat from both parties, their reaction is predictably repression. In this case, “the methods of Mubarak”.
The Army, whom some question is really willing to give up power, finds itself in a lose-lose situation. The storming of the Israeli Embassy last week was an international embarrassment to the Military Council, and a signal that their hold onto power may be tenuous. The reassertion of that hold by means of restriction of civil liberties and repression of liberal and radical alike will also draw the criticism of the international community. MB is likely to use such to erode the perceived legitimacy of the Council (or anything else which replaces it), and look to assume power once that entity is destabilized and overthrown.
Should the Islamists, in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood, succeed in seizing the reins of power in Egypt, legitimacy will be at the very bottom of the list of considerations. Perhaps right below civil liberties. Even if they don’t succeed, it is clear that the bloom is off the rose of the Arab Spring. What is left to be played out is the uglier and less hopeful aspects of popular uprising.
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