Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mullen: Army Looks to War College for Leaders

By Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 - If the military takes care of its people and their families, then the future will be assured no matter what it brings, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told students at the Army War College today.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses audience members at the U.S. Army War College in Carlsile Barracks, Pa., Feb. 10, 2011. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley 
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke at the Commandant's Lecture Series at Carlisle Barracks, Pa. He told the students that they cannot underestimate the scope of the change the military has been through in the past 10 years.
"We're depending on leadership in these extraordinarily challenges times," he said. The past decade has changed the services and now is the time to sort through that change to answer the question of "who we are right now," he said.
The military has gone through rough times in the past decade, he said. He challenged the students to examine the change and see if "the ethical compass is true, is our overall compass true? Where are we going in the future? What have our young ones ... learned about us that we need to address as leaders, and what do we need to teach them as they mature? Are we keeping our best young officers?"
The chairman said that as budget time approaches, most people measure it in the missions given and the equipment bought. "The missions and stuff make no difference in our health in the future," he said. "(Our future is) guaranteed in terms of good health if we keep the right people."
One fundamental change in the military over the last decade is the role that military families have played and the relationship of the services with those families. He said a ground forces junior officer in 2001, has probably deployed five or six times in the past decade, forcing families to cope with long absences.
The services have put in place programs to help families and redeploying personnel. But as budget pressures begin to grow – and they are growing now, Mullen said – the family programs are the first to unwind.
"I don't want to do that," he said. "I think we would do that at our peril. The challenges keep coming and we can't seem to get them off the plate.
In yesteryear an issue would come up, we'd deal with it as a country and we'd move on," Mullen added. "Now the plate isn't getting any bigger, but they won't go away. You as the future leaders of our military must understand it."
The chairman discussed the nature of the change and the issues around the world. He told the students – almost all of whom served multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan – that the military must continue to change and adjust.
He said they need to examine all of the world. The preponderance of resources today flow to U.S. Central Command, Mullen said. As it should with American troops are involved in two conflicts there. "But this means there is an inability to invest in small ways in other parts of the world, and if this continues, this can be very dangerous," he said.
He told the students that American forces will be out of Iraq at the end of the year, and said those who served there should be proud of the work they did. "There is a night and day difference every time I visit," he said. Iraq has formed a government and they are dealing with politics and not with war as they move forward.
The major U.S. effort is now, of course, in Afghanistan. "In a very tough fight, but it's better there," Mullen said. "But as I said many times it's not just security, there has to be a level of legitimacy in the government of Afghanistan. That's got to be created over the next three to four years."
Mullen also praised the efforts of Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell's NATO Training Mission in Afghanistan. He said they have built the training infrastructure, trained the instructors and developed the curricula for the Afghan Army and police. "On average we have 30,000 to 35,000 trainees at one time," he said. "Two years ago that number was miniscule."
This was Mullen's third trip to the Army War College, and he spoke of his 43-year career. "To cycle from the war we were in when I was first commissioned, to the wars we are in in the last decade in a position of leadership has truly been an extraordinary opportunity," he said. "It's been a great ride."
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen 

General Lauds Guard, Northcom Partnership

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer 
National Guard Bureau
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Feb. 10, 2011 - U.S. Northern Command depends heavily on the National Guard and is looking for more opportunities to expand that partnership, Northcom's deputy commander said here recently.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass, deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command, addresses attendees at the 2011 National Guard Bureau Domestic Operations Workshop held at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., Jan. 20, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Darron Salzer 
In remarks Jan. 20 during the National Guard Bureau Domestic Operations Workshop, Army Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass said the National Guard is Northcom's most important partner in its three critical mission areas: homeland defense, security cooperation and civil support.
"And if you look across the board at the things that we do," he added, "there is not a mission that we do that the Air Guard or Army Guard doesn't touch every day or accomplish for us."
Grass said partnering between Northcom and the National Guard is a critical component of today's national security strategy.
Grass noted eight areas of focus for Northcom that affect the homeland the most and said some of those areas hold potential for growth in the Northcom-National Guard Partnership.
The focus areas are:
-- Counterterrorism and force protection;
-- Combating transnational criminal organizations;
-- Defense support of civil authorities;
-- Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear consequence management;
-- Maritime warning;
-- Aerospace warning and control;
-- Missile defense; and
-- The Arctic region.

"We are interested in hearing from the states through the National Guard Bureau on where [our two agencies] can partner more," the general said. "The National Guard makes me proud every day, and it will be written in history that [the Guard] did an amazing job for the nation, and that you are a true national treasure."
Army Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass 
Related Sites:
U.S. Northern Command
National Guard Bureau 

Schwartz Discusses Past, Present of Special Ops

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jess Harvey 
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 - The United States has the world's most competent and most capable special operations forces thanks to the selfless dedication of countless U.S. special operations professionals over the years, the Air Force chief of staff said here this week.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz discusses special operations forces during the National Defense Industrial Association's 22nd Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium in Washington, D.C., Feb. 9, 2011. Courtesy photo 
Gen. Norton A. Schwartz discussed the past and present of special operations forces Feb. 9 at the National Defense Industrial Association's 22nd Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium.
The event's theme was "Defense, Diplomacy and Development: Translating Policy into Operational Capability." Schwartz addressed his audience from experience, having joined the ranks of special operations forces in 1980.
In the past, special operations personnel sometimes had to operate in ways quite differently from how they and Air Force units generally operate today, Schwartz said.
"For instance, in the 1980s, C-130 assault landings and low-level operations using night-vision goggles required specially qualified [special operations] aircrews who, as a matter of routine, would duct-tape 'chem-sticks' to their instrument panels and tape over warning lights to allow safe operations on night-vision goggles," Schwartz said.
Today, he said, nearly every Air Force airframe is configured, and most aircrew members are qualified, for night-vision goggle operations.
By 1996, special operations had evolved from clock-to-map-to-ground navigation to using moving maps and GPS-based precision navigation systems, he said.
Not long before that, Schwartz said, he had spoken with great pride at his brigadier general promotion ceremony about his special operations teammates and their operational achievements.
"Considering how far we'd come since I'd first joined this band of brothers, I declared my belief that we had entered a 'golden age' of special operations," Schwartz said. "Throughout the 1990s, mission sets from peacekeeping and noncombat evacuations operations to counterterrorism and integrated major combat operations all benefitted immensely from the progressively better organized, trained, and equipped special operations team."
Those missions, he said, and the further development of special operations forces helped to prepare the powerful U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
"After 9/11, the [special operations] team was also able to launch itself on a trajectory of further development that, I believe, ensured the extension of the golden age ... through to the present and well into the future," Schwartz said.
The nature of the conflicts that later ensued in Afghanistan and Iraq helped special operations evolve into a force that was able to meet the need for timely and accurate intelligence in order to pursue an elusive and embedded adversary, the general said. These developments are seen in the efforts of Air Force Special Operations Command joint terminal attack controllers, who today bolster the critical interface between SOF ground forces and the decisive effects that air power can provide, he added.
"That pioneering group of airmen has evolved into a culturally attuned, elite force of lethal warriors, fortified with an ability to concentrate firepower on the ground with airpower effects whenever and wherever needed," the general said.
As a result of all these efforts and accomplishments, "our nation has in its service today the world's most competent, and certainly the most capable, special operations force anywhere," Schwartz said.
Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz 

Special Operations Focuses on World's 'Unlit Spaces'

By Karen Parrish of American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 - A  NASA composite image of the Earth at night, seen from space, offers an illuminating reference point for the shift in special operations forces' missions since 2001, their senior officer said this week.
Click photo for screen-resolution image
A photograph of the Earth illustrates the shift in special operations forces' missions over the last decade from the lit to the unlit spaces, Navy. Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said Feb. 8, 2011, at the National Defense Industrial Association's 22nd Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium. NASA photo 

Before Sept. 11, 2001, the military considered the places where the lights are to be the most strategically important on the globe, Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, said this week.
Olson discussed the strategic importance of the globe's unlit areas during Feb. 8 remarks at the National Defense Industrial Association's 22nd Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium.
"I've come to think of this as ... representative of how the world has changed," Olson said, indicating the photograph.
The swath of light stretching in a narrow band across the Northern Hemisphere represents industrialized nations with "developed societies, ... things and money," Olson said, and during most of the 20th century, he added, the U.S. military focused on that area.
"But the world changed over the last decade," he said, explaining that Socom now considers 51 countries to be of high-priority interest in the global campaign against the extremist threat.
For the most part, "there's not a great deal of overlap" between those countries' locations and where the lights are, Olson said.
"Our strategic focus has shifted largely to the south, ... certainly within the special operations community, as we deal with the emerging threats from the places where the lights aren't," he said.
Olson said the unlit places generally have ungoverned or under-governed spaces, more porous borders and less-secure airports than in more developed areas.
"They have the opportunity for training, for movement, for smuggling –- for activities to occur that ultimately may threaten us," he said. "They are also places where the population may be riper for recruitment into behavior that is sort of challenging to the more legitimate form of government."
Places where special operations forces are deployed show "a pretty high degree of overlap" with the unlit places in the photograph, Olson said.
"We are in these places at the request of the host government and in accordance with the strategy [of] the geographic combatant commander," he said. "These are countries where building partner capacity, assisting our partners in helping themselves, is becoming more and more important to us."
Olson described the two primary "flavors" of special operations activities: strike capability -- which he called the "man-hunting, thing-hunting, direct-action piece" -- and the indirect approach, which includes engagement, training, advising, mentoring, equipping and "sticking with" foreign forces.
It's the second approach, Olson said, that ultimately leads to decisive effects on the battlefield, but the direct action buys time for engagement, and both are necessary for success in operations such as those in Afghanistan.
Many of the nations where special operations forces primarily operate today, the Socom commander said, don't historically have a strong military-to-military relationship with the United States "either because of politics, or economies, or both."
The absence of a historical military relationship poses a number of challenges to effective military partnerships with those countries, the admiral said.
"We don't know them, and they don't know us," Olson said. "We generally don't speak their languages, we don't understand their histories, we don't know their families, we don't know how work is done, we don't know how money is made, we don't know all the nuances, we don't know the effects, truly, of climate, of terrain, of religion, of culture, in these regions. And it takes time to get there from here."
Special operations forces see an ever-increasing need to work effectively in locations where they haven't operated before in the numbers or with the purpose they have now, he said.
When he was first asked how the special operations community has changed since 2001, Olson said, his answer referenced the classic military construct of "shoot, move, communicate."
"Our ability to shoot hasn't changed all that much," he said, noting that weapons and tactics have improved, but that forces find, approach and address targets in much the same way as they did before 9/11.
But Socom's ability to move, particularly over ground, is significantly better, Olson said.
"Before [2001], of our five active-duty Special Forces groups, only one ... had a motor pool of any significance. Now we are fully equipped, across our force, with a variety of vehicles," he said.
But the "sea-change movement" within the special operations community and the real change over the last decade, Olson said, has been in the third area.
"By 'communicate,' I mean 'network,'" he said. "We have placed networks on the battlefield with truly powerful effect."
Olson said networks offer instant communication, the ability to change targets while en route to a target, the ability to sort out friendly and enemy forces at the target with biometric feedback quickly, and the ability to transmit imagery and classified message traffic wherever a team-sized element may be.

"Wherever there is a vehicle or a handful of people, we have that kind of connectivity now," he said. "And then all of the talent that is required to ... grow up in that networked community."
But shooting, moving and communicating isn't all there is to it, Olson pointed out. The goal, he said, is understanding.
"If you can shoot, you can move and you can network the battlefield, how do you then know that what you're doing is right?" he asked.
It takes a deep understanding of a place to accurately predict the effects of special operations actions, Olson said. His approach to fostering this understanding, he added, is what he calls "Project Lawrence," inspired by Thomas Edward Lawrence, a British army officer better known as "Lawrence of Arabia," who served as a liaison officer to Arab forces during their revolt against Ottoman rule in 1916 to 1918 during World War I.
Socom needs "Lawrences" of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Indonesia and other places, Olson said.
"Absolutely, enormously essential and valuable when you can find these kinds of people, because they are the key to understanding the place," he said. "Much better if we can recruit them from that place and make them part of us than ... train us to be part of them, but we've taken a balanced approach to that, and frankly, we have more of us."
Socom is intensifying the training and preparation of its people to work in the places they're sent, Olson said, with a particular focus on high language capability.
"You don't get the sense of a place if you can't look at it through the lens of that language and communicate with those people," he said. Over the past year, Socom has created cultural support teams made up of women that are deployed with tactical elements in all sorts of situations and remote environments, Olson said.
The teams are trained in many advanced skills, but their primary value is that they give those tactical elements access to "the 50 percent of the population ... that we simply couldn't reach before," the admiral said.
That access has greatly increased his forces' understanding of their operating environments, Olson said, noting his ideal approach to operations is "understand, communicate, move and shoot."
"If you don't understand, your communications will be wrong; if your communications are wrong your movement will be wrong; and if your movement is wrong you're not shooting at the right things," he said.
Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson
Related Sites:
U.S. Special Operations Command
Related Articles:
Special Operations Faces Soaring Demands, Commander Says
Socom Commander Outlines People, Mission, Equipment 

Women Learn to Fight Stress from Home Front

By Terri Moon Cronk of American Forces Press Service
How to fight stress
WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 - During a week in which the White House pledged a vigorous, whole-of-government approach to supporting military families, 11 women worked diligently a few miles away to learn to cope with the stresses of their husbands' multiple deployments and the post-traumatic stress that affects many of them when they return home.
Ten military wives and a fiancée met in a quiet place the week of Jan. 24 without the distractions from ringing phones, kids' schedules and work projects. They learned coping skills through resilience training. They learned meditation, tried acupuncture, talked, laughed and cried.
The "significant others," who found out first-hand that post-traumatic stress affects entire families, came to the support group with more questions than answers. But they left armed with a battery of tools to cope with the everyday stresses of military life in a time of war.
The Significant Others Support Group is an offshoot of the Specialized Care Program their husbands completed following a diagnosis of combat stress or post-traumatic stress, or because they had difficulty readjusting to home life after war. Both programs are based on resilience and strength-building education conducted by the Defense Health Clinical Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called post-traumatic stress "the military health issue of our era." He and his wife, Deborah, are well-known advocates of taking care of the military family, taking every opportunity to make it known they want war veterans and their families to get all the help they need to cope with war's invisible scars.

Discovery Health

For five days, the Significant Others Support Group charter class studied family roles and relationships, how combat affects service members, how to raise children during a stressful time in a lengthy war, and how to communicate about and deal with control issues when the deployment is over. They also learned the how to take care of themselves, an often-overlooked need.
"We don't 'cure' people here," said Dan Bullis, director of administration and operations at the clinical center. "It's the start of their journey to cope with symptoms."
Because it affects the entire family, efforts to confront post-traumatic stress must be include a family care plan, he said.
"[It's] is not a level playing field for them," Bullis said, adding that he believes the support group will become even more successful as word spreads to new attendees and sponsors.
"In a weeks' time," he said, "12 to 14 [significant others] are equipped with tools to cope with life. It's their lesson plan to take home so they can deal with the chronic symptoms. They're so overwhelmed."
The idea, Bullis said, was spawned from the husbands in the Specialized Care Program who began saying, "If only my significant other could get this support." A pilot program that launched with five or six women progressed to the charter class of 11 last month, he added.
Thanks to a $35,000 donation by the nonprofit Walter Reed Society, the 11 women were brought to Walter Reed on per diem travel, housed in a nearby hotel, and attended the training and education, all expenses paid.
Designing the support group for women came from a tried-and-true approach.
"We had a lot of input through the years from service members to help their families and significant others," said Victoria Bruner, the center's director of clinical education and training, who also is a social worker and expert in traumatic stress, with a background as a registered nurse. "Whether it's a mother, brother, sister or adult child, we built the group on the basics of what helps people heal."
A holistic approach, Bruner said, is important in an environment that promotes comfort, healing and peacefulness.
"The [significant others] need a sense of safety to feel comfortable to tell a story, and to connect to other people so they know they're not alone," she said. "It's important to be in a safe environment, where people are assured their stories are honored and respected, so they can go as far as they want about their situation, or not."
Late in the morning on their final day together, Bruner conducted a session with the women, seated in a circle in a comfortable room adorned with plants, a wall quilt and subdued lighting.
"What has this week been like for you?" she asked. Answers circulated in a flurry of optimism from the participants, whose identities are not included in this article to protect their privacy.
"I feel less isolated, I made close friends," one of the women said. "We understand each other."
"I feel empowered, refreshed -- a partner with my partner," another said. "I'm inspired to work as a team."
"It's refreshing," said a third. "I learned skills to regain my energy. I feel whole again."
Bruner said the women in the support group see signs of strength in themselves to keep going -- to bounce back and realize they're not "crazy." They learn how to practice patience, be more tolerant and supportive of their military family in a balanced manner, she added.
Bruner, who lost her husband in Vietnam, said it's critical for the women "to get the support they need, to reduce the cost of war."
Post-traumatic stress is not new –- it's just another name for a phenomenon that's been recognized since the Civil War. "Melancholy," "shell shock" and "battle fatigue" are among the names it's had when it's been observed in service members in past conflicts.
Bullis, a former Army medic who served in Vietnam, said that during and after the Gulf War deployment in 1990 and 1991, 100,000 service members complained of what became known as "Gulf War syndrome."
"It came from out of nowhere, and they had symptoms similar to chronic fatigue syndrome," he said. Eventually, with no real medical cause found, it was called "medically unexplained physical symptoms." And service in the Gulf War, he added, was never linked to it.
Bullis added that 20 percent to 30 percent of those deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan can develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress, but treatment can be successful if it is caught in its early stages. And medical staff members at military clinics worldwide are catching signs of the disorder at a rapid pace through routine screening, he added.
Yet, the average time it takes a service member to seek help after the onset of symptoms is a staggering 12 years, Bullis noted.
Women's forum
"It's an invisible wound," he said, "and it's always a part of war."
The Significant Others Support Group provides sessions on topics such as "Dealing with Adrenaline Overload," "Understanding Triggers" and "Dealing with Things You Can't Control." It also provides relaxation and focus classes featuring Yoga Nidra, QiGong and acupuncture, as well as a massage donated by a local spa.
Robin Carnes -- a local mind and body skills instructor who teaches relaxation tools to the Significant Others Support Group -- said the techniques can be used at home in five minutes a day. Her methods teach the women to relax and refocus by "putting back life energy and storing it," she said.
"If you want to change your life," she added, "change your practice. It's a healthy addiction if done every day."
The charter class of 11 significant others gathered one last time on the final day in a small ceremony. As they received certificates of completion, some quietly said, "Thank you." But one Army wife, also a veteran, dropped to her knees, tearfully gesturing to the group, thanking everyone for the support she now has, and for her husband's success in the Specialized Care Program.
"This program," she said, "gave me my husband back."
(Photographs inserted by blogger after internet search for the purely non commercial and educative purpose)