COUNTERING TERRORISTS - Efforts to tighten security at U.S. military installations worldwide since the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia have paid off, according to Marine Brig. Gen. John Stattler, deputy director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Terrorists haven't been able to hit a single U.S. military target since 1996, Stattler said. Instead, they have been forced to find less secure targets, such as U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, bombed last year by followers of Osama Bin Laden.
Effective technologies and strategies have been developed against truck bombs-the terrorists' current weapon of choice-Stattler said. "What scares the hell out of us are nuclear, biological and chemical threats," Stattler said. "If you've got something to help us counter those, call us."
A NEW NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY - A real possibility exists that when the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century concludes its study in 2001, it may recommend that a new national security strategy not be written, according to the panel's executive director, retired Air Force Gen. Charles G. Boyd. "The question that the commissioners will have to wrestle with is whether or not a grand strategy [like the Security Act of 1947] can work in today's world," said Boyd, former deputy commander of the U.S. European Command.
FATALITIES EXAGGERATED? The commonly accepted estimates of deaths resulting from Serb ethnic cleansing in Kosovo were grossly exaggerated, according to Balkans policy critic and ex-foreign service officer George Kenney. At a recent panel discussion, Kenney said the news media dropped the ball when they didn't question the inflated figure of 300,000 that had been offered by new United Nations Ambassador Richard Holbroke in his latest book. A more responsible estimate, Kenney asserted, was 40-60,000, with 70,000 being the outside limit. "It's amazing how the press worked the [higher] numbers and manipulated the public," he commented.
AFTER THE ABRAMS - The lesson repeatedly drummed home to planners considering how to replace the Army's 70-ton Abrams tank: "The lighter and more agile have always won-all the way back to David and Goliath," said a strategist at a recent NDIA-sponsored combat vehicles conference at Ft. Knox, Ky.
TOO MUCH TALK - The task of making weapon systems from different military services "talk" to each other-called interoperability-generally is viewed as a major challenge at the Defense Department. But the problem is not lack of funding or programs, said Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., commander of the U.S. Atlantic Command. Currently, there are 45 agencies with 150 "funded interoperability programs," Gehman told a U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) conference in Virginia Beach. "The problem is organization," Gehman said. Some of those programs need to be put "out of business" and managed in more useful ways.
HELP FROM NASA - The Defense Department is discussing with NASA the possibility of launching a military early warning satellite on the Space Shuttle. The satellite, called DSP 22, provides warning of a ballistic missile attack. Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN, deputy commander of the U.S. Space Command, told a recent NDIA-Navy conference in Columbia, Md., that he hopes NASA can accommodate DSP because there are not enough military launchers. Browne complained that, in the space business, "This has been a disastrous year ... We could pay for the entire Navy theater missile defense [system] with the [money spent] on satellites we put in the wrong orbit," he told the conference.
NOT SO FAST - As the U.S. Navy continues to invest billions of dollars on information technologies to modernize ships, it often fails to address one important factor: training sailors to use the high-tech equipment. These complaints often were heard during the USNI conference. "It's a fair criticism," said Rear Adm. John B. Nathman, director of naval air warfare. The reason training is neglected, he said, is because "we tend to prematurely deploy these systems, often driven by operational requirements."
TOTAL FORCE CAPABLE - National Guard and reserve forces should be equipped with cutting edge technology, argued U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev. Proper training assets, he said, can help give the military services "total force capability"-the ability to use all of its forces to maximum effect. It is a "tragedy," Gibbons said, when a reserve unit is called to duty and doesn't meet the training requirements because of a lack of adequate weapon systems.
PREFERRED OPTIONS - Modeling and simulation increasingly are the preferred options, rather than live prototypes, when it comes to developing new weapon systems-primarily because digital representations are less costly. But one Navy admiral believes the cost of simulations still is too high and should come down. "Why is modeling and simulation so expensive?" Rear Adm. Michael G. Mullen asked a gathering of industry executives at a conference on Navy missile defense in Columbia, Md. Mullen, who is director of surface warfare, said he recently had been "startled at the kind of dollars" needed to conduct war games. "It puzzles me," he said, that simulation is supposed to be about saving money, but it costs so much.
Topics: Defense Department