Major General Omer “Clif” Tooley, Jr.: The Evolution of Modern Warfare and the Dancing Landscapes of National Security
We are well positioned here in Indiana to take advantage of opportunities in what is really a major shift in how our nation approaches security. The National Center for Complex Operations (NCCO) is a new way of addressing national security needs. But before going into detail on that, I want to look at the bigger picture. This is my read on the environment we are in as well as the risks, dangers and opportunities.
First, a word about my day job. I serve as Commander of the Camp Atterbury--Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations. Our purpose is to provide the nation with the most realistic, fiscally responsible, contemporary operation environment possible to prepare to protect the homeland and win the peace.
The entire U.S. defense structure—how we do business, how we deploy capabilities, and how we create capabilities—is a model built on lessons learned from WWII and embodied in the 1947 National Security Act. Our defense structure is a monolithic organization based on a business model borrowed from heavy industry, that is, from industries like automobile production. Equipment became the centerpiece of readiness and everything else revolved around it including the manning, how it was operated, and how it was maintained.
Using a business model from heavy industry, we created an elongated program to develop readiness over a period of seven years. First, we predicted what the environment would be 10 years out. Then we identified what equipment would act as solutions to that environment, and then we went through a two-year process of modifying equipment. Once everybody was happy with the equipment solutions, we entered into a five-year resourcing model, which is the budget process. That’s the model the Department of Defense (DoD) has worked with since 1947. But during the last 10 years of conflict, there was a realization that that model was no longer relevant or responsive. For instance, 95 percent of the technology that was actually bought and sent to theatre never made it into the hands of the soldiers. The system was not designed to do that.
It’s going to get ugly over the next few years as historians get a hold of the last 10 years and start looking at the money that we threw at the problems and all of the system failures. It wasn’t necessarily a failure of leadership as much as it was an old business model being thrown against temporary problems.
Forming a Strategy to Better Address Today’s Realities
First at Muscatatuck and now with the formation of the National Center for Complex Operations, we are making the future happen now. We use the term complex in our title because the underlying reality is based on the science of complexity. Right now we are experiencing what complexity theorists call a “dancing landscape,” which is basically a complex of changing interdependencies and interactions between agents and bureaucracies. The NCCO works with those of us “inside of the fence” to unleash a new business model that allows us to rapidly adapt to the changing environment, or dancing landscapes, to maintain a competitive edge.
Through the NCCO, we are bringing together some of the inherent strengths of bureaucracy and the inherent strengths of the commercial world. The commercial world adapted some time ago and so we organized around their structures. Current programs are acquiring equipment not for 10 or 20-year programs but for four-year programs with the expectation that technology and related value-added processes will change.
NCCO uses a business model that allows us to change with the environment, change models, and maintain responsiveness against the new requirements.
Muscatatuck is the physical plant for a 21st century capability. It consists of four components and two activities. The four components are land/terrain, airspace, electromagnetic atmosphere, and a human dimension. The two activities are training and testing. Those elements comprise the operating space for the 21st century. If someplace doesn’t address those four areas they are in a situation where they can’t pull off a solution.
Those of us in uniform represent “inside the fence” capabilities. We are a 21st century operation environment platform. We reach out and grab folks who have applications that need to reside within our environment in order to function effectively. First of all, we bring in things that are relevant to our operating environment and also that have synergy with other applications. Within that framework, we look at the businesses and the opportunities within the national security arena and divide those two things up into two big worlds. One world is the conventional, traditional interstate conflict. Though the other has been around forever it has been more relevant in recent years. That is non-state conflict, that is, the state of persistent engagement. This involves threats to the Homeland and other types of non-state threats in the world.
Bureaucracy always runs to interstate conflict solutions because it's equipment centric—ships, tanks. That’s where they are trying to go right now by elevating China and Iran as potential threats. Bureaucracy and major contractors are running to that arena because that’s where the comfort zone is and that’s where they focus. We’re going into the other half—into the world of persistent engagement, nontraditional, nonstate threats and actors, the world of special operations, the world of cyber warfare.
In business we are running after what is called the long tail of a power group. Most businesses run over to the big name 15 percent programs. We’re going for the 85 percent small programs. That is the environment where we are most relevant and where we have a niche dealing with folks who rapidly adapt. To them, asymmetric is the normal way of interacting. They are best at rapid adaptation technology. Strategy, tactics, procedures, organizations everything has to be rapidly adaptable because it’s playing out in a dancing landscape. You’re making decisions and other people are making decisions--it forces you to be rapidly adaptable. A big bureaucracy cannot do that.
So what we’re doing is creating a system, a capability, a business model that allows us to rapidly adapt to this particular spectrum of capabilities.
The way money moves has changed too. The big programs trying to build heavy equipment have a longer process. But everybody else out there is looking at moving money differently. There are a few characteristics: programs tend to be short lived, program directors are being squeezed as budgets go down, and they have to produce quickly under cost and with all these other parameters that are out there now in an environment where resources are being squeezed.
Our program managers that are coming in and using our space have to reach out into the private sector to get their support whether its logistics or training. With orders quickly changing from Afghanistan to places like Nicaragua, units need to turn on a dime. Our private sector model is fast and thus relevant to such dynamics in contrast to the existing contracting system.
And to further complicate things, Washington no longer passes budgets at the beginning of the fiscal year that continue under the resolution authorities. New programs and new start-ups cannot even begin their activities until a budget passes so delays mean that contractors may lose a quarter of the year and need to operate on a quarter of the budgets they’re used to. So we have the systems in place that rapidly commit money and can move money to get what they need in order to do their job.
These new realities signal a shift in national security operations from East Coast to the Midwest. The NCCO is in position to leverage this change for the betterment of the forces we send to battle and the economic prospects of our state.
MG Omer “Clif” Tooley, Jr. is the Assistant Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard with duty as the Commanding General, CA-MCCO. He is responsible for guiding the development of the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, including the Muscatatuck Complex, into a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, Multinational and Non-Governmental training and testing center capable of meeting the national security requirements of the 21stCentury.
These remarks were adapted from MG Tooley's remarks at Sagamore Institute December 2011