Defense Transformation: Background and Oversight Issues for Congress
Defense Transformation: Background and
Oversight Issues for Congress
Updated April 16, 2007
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Background and Oversight Issues for Congress
The Bush Administration identified transformation as a major goal for the
Department of Defense (DOD) soon after taking office, and initially justified many
of its proposals for DOD on the grounds that they were needed for defense
transformation. Although defense transformation is still discussed in administration
defense-policy documents and budget-justification materials, the concept is now less
prominent in discussions of U.S. defense policy and programs than it was during the
earlier years of the Bush Administration.
The Administration’s vision for defense transformation calls for placing
increased emphasis in U.S. defense planning on the following: irregular warfare,
including terrorism, insurgencies, and civil war; potential catastrophic security
threats, such as the possession and possible use of weapons of mass destruction by
terrorists and rogue states; and potential disruptive events, such as the emergence of
new technologies that could undermine current U.S. military advantages. The
Administration’s vision for defense transformation calls for shifting U.S. military
forces toward a greater reliance on joint operations, network-centric warfare, effects-
based operations, speed and agility, and precision application of firepower.
Transformation could affect the defense industrial base by transferring funding from
“legacy” systems to transformational systems, and from traditional DOD contractors
to firms that previously have not done much defense work.
Potential oversight issues for Congress regarding defense transformation include
the potential for DOD transformation plans to change as a result of Robert Gates
succeeding Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense; the merits of certain elements
of DOD’s transformation plan; overall leadership and management of transformation;
experiments and exercises conducted in support of transformation; measures for
creating a culture of innovation viewed as necessary to support transformation; the
adequacy of information provided to Congress regarding transformation-related
initiatives; and whether the Administration has invoked the term transformation as
an all-purpose rhetorical tool for justifying its various proposals for DOD. This
report will be updated as events warrant.
In troduction ......................................................1
Issue For Congress.............................................1
Related CRS Reports...........................................1
What Is Defense Transformation?.................................2
What Are The Administration’s Plans For Transformation?.............4
How Much Would Transformation Cost?..........................12
What Weapons And Systems Are Transformational?.................13
How Might It Affect the Defense Industrial Base?...................14
How Might It Affect Operations With Allied Forces?................15
What Transformational Changes Has Congress Initiated?.............17
Potential Oversight Issues for Congress...............................18
Transformation Under DOD’s New Leadership.....................18
Specific Elements of DOD’s Transformation Vision.................20
Overall Leadership and Management of Transformation..............20
Experiments And Exercises.....................................21
Culture of Innovation..........................................22
Adequacy of Information for Congress............................23
Transformation As All-Purpose Justification Tool...................23
Legislative Activity For FY2008.....................................24
Defense Transformation: Background
and Oversight Issues for Congress
Issue For Congress
The Bush Administration identified transformation as a major goal for the
Department of Defense (DOD) soon after taking office, and initially justified many
of its proposals for DOD on the grounds that they are needed for defense
transformation. The Administration’s early emphasis on transformation altered the
framework of debate for numerous issues relating to U.S. defense policy and
Although defense transformation is still discussed in administration defense-
policy documents and budget-justification materials, the concept is now less
prominent in discussions of U.S. defense policy and programs than it was during the
earlier years of the Bush Administration.
Related CRS Reports
This report addresses defense transformation from a DOD-wide perspective.
For discussions of transformation as it relates to specific parts of DOD, see the
following CRS reports:
!CRS Report RS20787, Army Transformation and Modernization:
Overview and Issues for Congress, by Edward F. Bruner,
!CRS Report RL32476, U.S. Army’s Modular Redesign: Issues for
Congress, by Andrew Feickert,
!CRS Report RS20859, Air Force Transformation, by Christopher
!CRS Report RS20851, Naval Transformation: Background and
Issues for Congress, by Ronald O’Rourke,
!CRS Report RL32411, Network Centric Warfare: Background and
Oversight Issues for Congress, by Clay Wilson,
!CRS Report RL31425, Military Transformation: Intelligence,
Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, by Judy G. Chizek,
!CRS Report RL32151, DOD Transformation Initiatives and the
Military Personnel System: Proceedings of a CRS Seminar, by
Lawrence Kapp, and
!CRS Report RL33148, U.S. Military Overseas Basing: New
Developments and Oversight Issues for Congress, by Robert D.
What Is Defense Transformation?
The term defense transformation came into common use among military
officials and defense analysts in the late 1990s. It has been defined by military
officials, military analysts, and other observers in various ways. In general, defense
transformation can be thought of as large-scale, discontinuous, and possibly
disruptive changes in military weapons, organization, and concepts of operations
(i.e., approaches to warfighting) that are prompted by significant changes in
technology or the emergence of new and different international security challenges.
Advocates of defense transformation stress that, in contrast to incremental or
evolutionary military change brought about by normal modernization efforts, defense
transformation is more likely to feature discontinuous or disruptive forms of change.
They also stress that while much of the discussion over transformation centers on
changes in military weapons and systems, changes in organization and concepts of
operations can be as important, or even more important, than changes in weapons and
systems in bringing about transformation. Changes in organization and concepts of
operation, some have argued, can lead to transformation even without changes in
weapons and systems, while even dramatic changes in weapons and systems might
not lead to transformation if not accompanied by changes in organization and
concepts of operation.
DOD has defined transformation in one document as a
process that shapes the changing nature of military competition and cooperation
through new combinations of concepts, capabilities, people and organizations
that exploit our nation’s advantages and protect against our asymmetric
vulnerabilities to sustain our strategic position, which helps underpin peace and
stability in the world.
First and foremost, transformation is a continuing process. It does not have
an end point. Transformation anticipates and creates the future and deals with
the co-evolution of concepts, processes, organizations, and technology. Profound
change in any one of these areas necessitates change in all. Transformation
creates new competitive areas and competencies and identifies, leverages, or
creates new underlying principles for the way things are done. Transformation
also identifies and leverages new sources of power. The overall objective of1
these changes is to sustain U.S. competitive advantage in warfare.
The Administration’s view of transformation has evolved somewhat since 2001
to include more emphasis on transformation as a continuing process rather than one
with an endpoint, and on making changes not just in combat forces and warfighting
doctrine, but in supporting DOD activities such as training, personnel management,
logistics, and worldwide basing arrangements. The Administration’s definition of
transformation also encompasses making changes in DOD business policies,
practices, and procedures, particularly with an eye toward streamlining operations
and achieving efficiencies so as to reduce costs and move new weapon technologies
from the laboratory to the field more quickly. The Administration has also used the
term transformation to refer to proposed changes in matters such as the budget2
process and environmental matters affecting military training.
Some observers have equated transformation principally with the idea of making
U.S. forces more mobile, agile, and lethal through greater reliance on things such as
unmanned vehicles (UVs), advanced technologies for precision-strike operations, and
special operations forces (SOF). Other observers have equated transformation34
principally with the concept of network-centric warfare (NCW) and the C4ISR
technologies needed to implement NCW. Still others have equated transformation5
primarily with making U.S. military forces more expeditionary, with making order-
of-magnitude improvements in specific military capabilities, with making many
smaller improvements that add up to larger improvements, or with the notion of
weapon modernization in general.
Some of these alternative formulations are not so much definitions of
transformation as prescriptions for how U.S. military forces should be transformed.
Others can be viewed as reducing the threshold of what qualifies as transformation
by including changes that, while perhaps dramatic, represent an elaboration of current
1 U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director, Force
Transformation, Military Transformation[:] A Strategic Approach, fall 2003, p. 8.
2 For additional discussion, see U.S. Department of Defense, Elements of Defense
Transformation. Washington, 2004, 17 pp. Available on the Internet at [http://www.oft.osd.
3 NCW refers to using networking technology — computers, data links, and networking
software — to link U.S. military personnel, ground vehicles, aircraft, and ships into a series
of highly integrated local- and wide-area networks capable of sharing critical tactical
information on a rapid and continuous basis. For more on NCW, see U.S. Department of
Defense, Office of Force Transformation, The Implementation of Network-Centric Warfare.
Washington, 2005, 76 pp. Available on the Internet at [http://www.oft.osd.mil/library/
4 C4ISR stands for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence,
surveillance, and reconnaissance.
5 In general, this means making U.S. forces more capable of rapidly moving to distant
operating areas and conducting operations in those areas with less reliance on pre-existing
in-theater bases, infrastructure, or supplies.
practices and arrangements rather than something discontinuous with or disruptive
of those practices and arrangements.
Related to the concept of defense transformation is the somewhat earlier term
Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), which came into use in the early 1990s.6
RMAs are periodic major changes — discontinuities — in the character of warfare.
Depending on the source consulted, a few or several RMAs are deemed to have
occurred in recent decades or centuries. Although the terms transformation and
RMA have sometimes been used interchangeably, RMA can be used to refer to a
major change in the character of warfare, while transformation can be used to refer
to the process of changing military weapons, concepts of operation, and organization
in reaction to (or anticipation of) an RMA.
What Are The Administration’s Plans For Transformation?
DOD Publications. DOD has published a number of documents describing
the Administration’s plans for defense transformation. Among these are Elements
of Defense Transformation, published in October 2004, Military Transformation: A
Strategic Approach, published in the fall of 2003, Transformation Planning
Guidance, published in April 2003, and separate transformation plans (called road
maps) for each of the military services.
Overall Vision. In general, the Administration’s vision for defense
transformation calls for placing increased emphasis in U.S. defense planning on the
following: irregular warfare (including terrorism, insurgencies, and civil war),
potential catastrophic security threats (such as the possession and possible use of
weapons of mass destruction by terrorists and rogue states), and potential disruptive
events (such as the emergence of new technologies that could undermine current U.S.
The Administration’s vision for defense transformation calls for shifting the
U.S. military away from a reliance on massed forces, sheer quantity of firepower,
6 The term RMA was a reformulation of the even earlier term, Military Technical
Revolution (MTR), which was coined by Soviet military analysts during the Cold War to
refer to fundamental changes in warfare that are brought about by major new technologies,
such as nuclear weapons. Western military analysts, concerned that the term MTR placed
too exclusive an emphasis on changes in technology, created the term RMA so as to take
into account changes in military organization and concepts of operations as well.
7 For press articles discussing this shift in the focus of U.S. defense planning, see Jason
Sherman, “US Revises Threat Scenarios,” DefenseNews.com, Nov. 22, 2004; Jason
Sherman, “US War On Terror Looms For QDR,” Defense News, Oct. 25, 2004: 4; Jason
Sherman, “U.S. Goals Sought On Battling The Unconventional,” Defense News, Sept. 20,
2004; and Thomas E. Ricks, “Shift From Traditional War Seen At Pentagon,” Washington
Post, Sept. 3, 2004: 1.
For a discussion of the relationship between transformation and potential disruptive events,
see Terry J. Pudas, “Disruptive Challenges and Accelerating Force Transformation,” Jointrd
Force Quarterly, Issue 42, 3 Quarter, 2006: 43-50.
military services operating in isolation from one another, and attrition-style warfare,8
and toward a greater reliance on joint (i.e., integrated multi-service) operations,
NCW, effects-based operations (EBO),9 speed and agility, and precision application
of firepower. Some transformation advocates characterize these changes as shifting
from an industrial-age approach to war to an information-age approach.
As mentioned earlier, the Administration’s transformation vision also includes
proposals for changing things like training practices, personnel management
practices, logistics operations, and worldwide basing arrangements, and for changing
DOD’s business practices, particularly with an eye toward streamlining those
practices so as to accelerate the fielding of new weapons and generate savings that
can be used to invest in them. A potential emerging area of DOD’s vision for
defense transformation are actions to reduce DOD’s energy requirements and to
develop alternative energy sources, particularly for forces operating in distant
t h eat ers. 10
DOD has stated that its transformation effort is focused on achieving six
“critical operational goals” and consists of four essential “pillars:”
Six critical operational goals identified by Secretary of Defense Donald H.
Rumsfeld provide the focus for the Department’s transformation efforts: (1)
Protecting critical bases and defeating chemical, biological, radiological, and
nuclear weapons; (2) Projecting and sustaining forces in anti-access
environments; (3) Denying enemy sanctuary; (4) Leveraging information
technology; (5) Assuring information systems and conducting information
operations; and (6) Enhancing space capabilities. Over time, the continued focus
of the Department’s force transformation efforts on the development of the
capabilities necessary to achieve these six critical operational goals will help
shift the balance of U.S. forces and broaden our capabilities....
8 Attrition-style warfare refers to a traditional warfighting strategy that focuses on seeking
out the enemy’s military forces, wherever they might be, and then using firepower to destroy
them piece by piece, through a process of gradual attrition, until the enemy is no longer
capable of fighting effectively.
9 Effects-based operations , also called effects-based warfare, refers to a warfighting strategy
that has been proposed as an alternative to traditional attrition-style warfare. Rather than
focusing on seeking out and destroying enemy forces wherever they might be, effects-based
operations focuses on attacking selected key elements of the enemy’s ability to fight in a
coordinated manner. Under an effects-based strategy, U.S. forces might attack the enemy’s
military leadership, its military command-and-control systems, and the most politically and
militarily significant elements of the enemy’s fielded military forces while bypassing less
significant enemy military forces. The goal of effects-based warfare is to create specific
effects on the enemy that lead to a rapid collapse of the enemy’s willingness and ability to
fight, without having to go through a time-consuming and potentially costly effort to destroy
the bulk of the enemy’s military forces through a gradual process of attrition.
Some observers argue that the concept of effects-based operations is not new and has been
employed in past conflicts. Observers also argue, however, that new technologies may
significantly increase the effectiveness of effects-based operations.
10 Scott C. Buchanan, “Energy and Force Transformation,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 42,
The four military transformation pillars identified by the Secretary —
strengthening joint operations, exploiting U.S. intelligence advantages, concept
development and experimentation, and developing transformational capabilities
— constitute the essential elements of the Department’s force transformation
strategy. The first pillar focuses on strengthening joint operations through the
development of joint concepts and architectures and the pursuit of other
important jointness initiatives and interoperability goals. The overarching Joint
Operations Concepts (JOpsC) document provides the operational context for
military transformation by linking strategic guidance with the integrated
application of Joint Force capabilities. The second pillar involves exploiting U.S.
intelligence advantages through multiple intelligence collection assets, global
surveillance and reconnaissance, and enhanced exploitation and dissemination.
Our ability to defend America in the new security environment requires
unprecedented intelligence capabilities to anticipate where, when, and how
adversaries intend to harm us.
The third pillar, concept development and experimentation, involves
experimentation with new approaches to warfare, operational concepts and
capabilities, and organizational constructs through war gaming, simulations, and
field exercises focused on emerging challenges and opportunities. Experiments
designed to evaluate new concepts provide results that help refine those concepts
in an iterative fashion. [Regarding the fourth pillar, the] Department requires
strong mechanisms for implementing results from concept development and
experimentation and, more immediately, for developing transformational
capabilities needed to support the JOpsC and subordinate Joint Operating11
In its report on the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review, submitted to Congress
on February 6, 2006, DOD stated:
If one were to attempt to characterize the nature of how the Department of
Defense is transforming and how the senior leaders of this Department view that
transformation, it is useful to view it as a shift of emphasis to meet the new
strategic environment. In this era, characterized by uncertainty and surprise,
examples of this shift in emphasis include:
!From a peacetime tempo — to a wartime sense of urgency.
!From a time of reasonable predictability — to an era of surprise and
!From single-focused threats — to multiple, complex challenges.
!From nation-state threats — to decentralized network threats from
!From conducting war against nations — to conducting war in countries we
are not at war with (safe havens).
!From “one size fi ts all” deterrence — to tailored deterrence for rogue
powers, terrorist networks and near-term competitors.
!From responding after a crisis starts (reactive) — to preventive actions so
problems do not become crises (proactive).
!From crisis response — to shaping the future.
!From threat-based planning — to capabilities-based planning.
!From peacetime planning — to rapid adaptive planning.
11 Military Transformation[:] A Strategic Approach, op. cit., p. 3.
!From a focus on kinetics — to a focus on effects.
!From 20th century processes — to 21st century integrated approaches.
!From static defense, garrison forces — to mobile, expeditionary
!From under-resourced, standby forces (hollow units) — to fully-equipped
and fully-manned forces (combat ready units).
!From a battle-ready force (peace) — to battle-hardened forces (war).
!From large institutional forces (tail) — to more powerful operational
!From major conventional combat operations — to multiple irregular,
!From separate military Service concepts of operation — to joint and
!From forces that need to deconflict — to integrated, interdependent
!From exposed forces forward — to reaching back to CONUS [the
continental United States] to support expeditionary forces.
!From an emphasis on ships, guns, tanks and planes — to focus on
information, knowledge and timely, actionable intelligence.
!From massing forces — to massing effects.
!From set-piece maneuver and mass — to agility and precision.
!From single Service acquisition systems — to joint portfolio management.
!From broad-based industrial mobilization — to targeted commercial
!From Service and agency intelligence — to truly Joint Information
!From vertical structures and processes (stovepipes) — to more
transparent, horizontal integration (matrix).
!From moving the user to the data — to moving data to the user.
!From fragmented homeland assistance — to integrated homeland security.
!From static alliances — to dynamic partnerships.
!From predetermined force packages — to tailored, flexible forces.
!From the U.S. military performing tasks — to a focus on building partner
!From static post-operations analysis — to dynamic diagnostics and
real-time lessons learned.
!From focusing on inputs (effort) — to tracking outputs (results).12
!From Department of Defense solutions — to interagency approaches.
Service and Agency Transformation Plans. The military services and
DOD agencies have developed transformation plans or road maps in support of
DOD’s overall transformation vision.
The Army’s transformation plan centers on reorganizing the Army into modular,
brigade-sized forces called Units of Action (UAs) that can be deployed to distant
operating areas more easily and can be more easily tailored to meet the needs of each
12 U.S. Department of Defense, Quadrennial Defense Review Report. Washington, 2006.
(February 6, 2006) pp. vi-vii.
Key elements of the Air Force’s transformation plan include reorganizing the
service to make it more expeditionary, and exploiting new technologies and
operational concepts to dramatically improve its ability to rapidly deploy and sustain
forces, to dominate air and space, and to rapidly identify and precisely attack targets
on a global basis.
Key elements of naval transformation include a focus on operating in littoral
(i.e., near shore) waters, new-design ships requiring much-smaller crews, directly
launching and supporting expeditionary operations ashore from sea bases, more
flexible naval formations, and more flexible ship-deployment methods.
Elements common to the transformation plans of all the services include greater
jointness, implementing NCW, and greater use of unmanned vehicles (UVs). As
mentioned earlier, for more on the transformation plans of the Army in general, the
Army plan for UAs, the Air Force, and the Navy, see CRS Report RS20787, CRS
Report RL32476, CRS Report RS20859, and CRS Report RS20851, respectively.
Office of Force Transformation. As part of its strategy for implementing13
transformation, DOD in October 2001 created the Office of Force Transformation
(OFT), which resided within the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). OFT was
a small office with a staff of roughly 18 people and an annual budget of roughly $20
million. It reported directly to the Secretary of Defense. Among other things, OFT
issued guidance to the rest of DOD on transformation; reviewed and approved
transformation plans submitted by the military services and DOD agencies; acted as
a generator, promoter, and clearinghouse of ideas for transformation; and generally
evangelized in support of transformation.14
13 For a general discussion of this strategy, see Walter P. Fairbanks, “Implementing the
Transformation Vision,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 42, 3rd Quarter, 2006: 36-42.
14 An official from OFT, in an article published in the summer of 2006, stated the following:
One DOD tool for tracking overall progress each year is the Strategic
Transformation Appraisal. Preparing the appraisal and presenting it to the
Secretary of Defense are important responsibilities of the Director of Force
Transformation; the document assists the Secretary in evaluating progress across
DOD in the implementation of transformation, both in direction and balance. In
developing the appraisal, the OFT reviews the annual Service transformation
roadmaps and the joint roadmap prepared by U.S. Joint Forces Command and
assesses the direction of transformation. These roadmaps are compared with
broad guidance contained in key DOD documents such as the Quadrennial
Defense Review Report, Transformation Planning Guidance, and Strategic
The Office of Force Transformation employs three sets of qualitative
metrics to analyze roadmaps. The first set, derived from the National Defense
Strategy, reviews the four strategic challenges facing the United States
(traditional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive) as the first step in a top-down
CBP [capabilities-based planning] effort. The second set focuses on capabilities
described in the four approved joint operating concepts (JOCs). The joint
interdependencies the Services have identified in their transformation roadmaps
From October 29, 2001, until January 31, 2005, the director of OFT was retired
Navy Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski.15 Cebrowski, who died in November
Prior to becoming director of OFT, Cebrowski was President of the Naval War
College, where he was a proponent of the then-emerging concept of NCW and
initiated studies on radically new kinds of Navy warships. Following Cebrowski’s
departure from OFT in January 2005, the office’s deputy director, Terry Pudas,
served as acting director.
On August 28, 2006, DOD announced that it planned to dissolve OFT and
transfer its functions into other DOD offices.16 The announcement followed press
reports dating back to April 2005 about the possible fate of the office.17 OFT was
disestablished on October 1, 2006; its research and development projects were
transferred to DOD’s Director for Defense Research and Engineering (DDR&E), and
its operation and maintenance activities were transferred to the Under Secretary of
Defense for Policy.18 An April 2007 press article stated:
The Defense Department’s decision in August 2006 to close the Office of
Force Transformation left many people inside and outside the department
wondering what would happen to the office’s programs and track record of
form the third set of qualitative metrics used in the analysis. The OFT analysis
identifies capability gaps and shortfalls that have not been addressed in the
transformation roadmaps and generates conclusions and recommendations
concerning the state of transformation in DOD.
(Walter P. Fairbanks, “Implementing the Transformation Vision,” Joint Forcerd
Quarterly, Issue 42, 3 Quarter, 2006: 36-42.)
15 Vice Admiral Cebrowski died on November 12, 2005, after a long illness.
16 Gopal Ratnam, “Pentagon To Dissolve Transformation Office,” DefenseNews.com, Aug.
29, 2006; Christopher P. Cavas, “Pentagon May Close Transformation Office,” Defense
News, Aug. 28, 2006.
17 In April 2005, it was reported that the Office of the Secretary of Defense had
commissioned retired admiral James Ellis, who commanded the U.S. Strategic Command
from 2001 to 2004, to prepare a set of options for OFT’s future. These options reportedly
included, but may not have been be limited to, keeping OFT as is, moving it to a new
location within DOD (such as under DOD’s acquisition office or under U.S. Joint Forces
Command), or expanding OFT. Ellis’ study reportedly also recommended that a new
director be found for OFT. (Jason Sherman, “DSB: Commanders Require New Tools For
Transformation In Terror War,” Inside the Pentagon, Sept. 1, 2005.)
In September 2005, it was reported that a study conducted by the Defense Science Board
(DSB) — an advisory panel to the Secretary of Defense — suggested that, in light of the
broad acceptance of transformation within DOD over the last few years, OFT may no longer
be necessary. The DSB study reportedly referred to OFT as “an organizational applique”
and criticized OFT’s role in overseeing and critiquing the services transformation plans.
(Ibid. See also Roxana Tiron, “Military-Transformation Agency At Crossroads, After
Cebrowski,” The Hill, Sept. 15, 2005.)
18 Jason Sherman, “England Memo Spells Official End of DOD Transformation Office,”
InsideDefense.com, Oct. 4, 2006.
innovation. Some experts even said DOD’s catalyst for experimentation would
Now, more than seven months later, those concerns and questions remain
unanswered. DOD has folded most of OFT into a reorganized policy office
within the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It has shifted OFT’s people and
projects into new offices, but it has not finalized the role of the new office.
“We’re starting to settle into the new construct as we move from outside the
[policy] organization to a more aligned construct,” said Terry Pudas, former
acting director of OFT. Pudas now is acting deputy assistant secretary of Defense
for forces transformation and resources in the Office of the Undersecretary of
Defense for Policy.
When DOD decided to close OFT, Pentagon officials countered critics by
saying transformational thinking at DOD had matured and was engrained [sic]
throughout the department. They emphasized how network-centric warfare and
the emerging Global Information Grid are revolutionizing intelligence
collaboration and battlefield command and control.
The decision to move OFT inside OSD’s policy structure was a
double-edged sword, Pudas said. On the one hand, former OFT employees are
more directly connected to policy development and implementation, which
encourages better coordination. But now they now spend much of their time in
meetings rather than focusing on new initiatives.
Pudas’ new office houses 20 people, about the same number as at OFT. But
staff members aren’t leading any projects yet, he said. Instead, they are focused
on collaborating with other offices and overseeing policy concerns of the Joint
Forces and Transportation commands.
John Garstka, director of force transformation in the new office, said being
inside the OSD policy shop has advantages, but the unique character of the
original OFT has been lost.
“It all revolves around the money,” Garstka said, adding that the former
OFT leadership pursued project funding without getting specific permission. It
remains to be seen whether OFT’s technology concept development activities,
now under the director for Defense research and engineering, will remain robust,
Proximity to the policy-making process doesn’t necessarily correspond to
increased influence in that process, Garstka added....
Network-centric operations, a core philosophy of [the first OFT director,
retired Vice Adm. Art] Cebrowski and OFT, is one idea that DOD has embraced,
officials say. DOD has applied OFT’s conceptual framework for network-centric
operations to a variety of case studies, including research into the use of Blue
Force Tracking and the benefit of Stryker Brigade Combat Teams....
Meanwhile, DOD gave OFT’s technology projects and research funding,
along with four staff members, to the Office of the Director for Defense Research
and Engineering, led by John Young. Those projects are continuing as planned,
said Alan Shaffer, the office’s director of plans and programs....
DOD will rename the part of the office that houses those projects the
Operational Experimentation Division, Shaffer said. As those projects reach the
demonstration phase, the office will replace them with new, midsize projects that
carry higher-than-normal risk.
Overall, DOD must figure out how to make transformation fiscally sustainable
by leveraging initiatives that offer returns and losing others, Pudas said. DOD
officials must also balance investments in information with investments in other
capabilities to close a gap in usability, he added.
The new OFT policy section still can be a catalyst for innovation, Pudas19
said. “We haven’t lost that charter.”
U.S. Joint Forces Command. As another measure to help implement
transformation, DOD designated U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), a unified
military command with a staff of more than 800 headquartered in Norfolk, VA, as
the military’s premier “transformation laboratory.” USJFCOM states:
U. S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) is one of nine combatant
commands in the Department of Defense, and the only combatant command
focused on the transformation of U.S. military capabilities.
Among his duties, the commander of USJFCOM oversees the command’s
four primary roles in transformation — joint concept development and
experimentation, joint training, joint interoperability and integration, and the
primary conventional force provider as outlined in the Unified Command Plan
approved by the president.
The Unified Command Plan designates USJFCOM as the “transformation
laboratory” of the United States military to enhance the combatant commanders’
capabilities to implement the president’s strategy. USJFCOM develops joint
operational concepts, tests these concepts through rigorous experimentation,
educates joint leaders, trains joint task force commanders and staffs, and
recommends joint solutions to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines to better
integrate their warfighting capabilities....
As the joint force integrator, USJFCOM helps develop, evaluate, and
prioritize the solutions to the interoperability problems plaguing the joint
warfighter. At USJFCOM, joint interoperability and integration initiatives
continue to deliver materiel and non-materiel solutions to interoperability
challenges by working closely with combatant commanders, services and
government agencies to identify and resolve joint warfighting deficiencies.
This work is one of the most important near-term factors required to20
transform the legacy forces and establish a “coherently integrated joint force.”
New Weapon Acquisition Regulations. As an additional measure to help
implement transformation, the Administration has revised the regulations governing
19 Josh Rogin, “Defense Transformation Searches For New Identity,” Federal Computer
Week, April 16, 2007.
the acquisition of new weapons and systems with the aim of reducing costs and
“acquisition cycle time” — the time needed to turn useful new technologies into
fielded weapon systems. One element of DOD’s effort in this regard is evolutionary
acquisition with spiral development (EA/SD), which DOD has identified is its new
preferred acquisition strategy. EA/SD is an outgrowth of the defense acquisition
reform movement of the 1990s and is intended to make its acquisition system more
responsive to rapid changes in threats, technology, and warfighter needs. For more
on EA/SD, see CRS Report RS21195.21
How Much Would Transformation Cost?
Calculating the potential cost of defense transformation is not an easy matter,
for the following reasons:
!Opinions differ, often significantly, on what kinds of planned
changes for DOD qualify as transformational, and which do not.
!Developing and acquiring new weapons and equipment that are
deemed transformational can be very expensive, but the cost of this
can be offset, perhaps substantially or even completely, by reducing
or cancelling the development and procurement of non-
transformational weapons and equipment that would no longer be
!Implementing transformational changes in organization can also cost
money, but these costs might similarly be offset by the reduced
recurring cost of maintaining the new forms of organization.
!While exercises intended to explore new warfighting concepts of
operation can be expensive, the cost of staging these exercises can
be offset by curtailing other exercises that are intended to further
develop older concepts of operations.
!If transformation is viewed as a continuing process rather than one
with an endpoint, any calculations of its cost become snapshots
rather than final figures.
In an article published in the summer of 2006, an official from DOD’s Office
of Force Transformation (OFT) stated:
A frequent question is how much DOD spends on transformation. That is
hard to say, because transformation is far more than a list of programs. The
concepts, capabilities, and organizations developed through innovative ideas,
experimentation, major training exercises, and assessment of lessons learned on
21 CRS Report RS21195, Evolutionary Acquisition and Spiral Development in DOD
Programs: Policy Issues for Congress, by Gary J. Pagliano and Ronald O’Rourke.
the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq cannot be categorized under a22
transformation line item in the defense budget.
Although some analysts who advocate defense transformation might personally
support increased spending on defense, most appear to advocate transformation as
a cost-neutral or cost-reducing proposition. Indeed, some advocates support their
proposals for transformation on the grounds that they represent a less-expensive
strategy for meeting future security challenges than the alternative of investing in
programs for making more incremental or evolutionary changes to current military
capabilities. Some analysts have gone even further, arguing that an increasing
defense budget might actually impede transformation by permitting officials to
believe that projected security challenges can be solved by investing larger amounts
of funding in today’s military forces, while a constrained or declining defense budget,
conversely, might help encourage transformation by forcing officials to contemplate
more seriously the idea of shifting to new and less expensive approaches for meeting
The Administration has stressed that its interest in incorporating current best
private-sector business practices in DOD operations, and in running DOD more “like
a business,” is driven in large part by a desire to run DOD more efficiently and
thereby generate maximum savings that can be used for, among other things,
investing in transformation.
The acting director of OFT, in an interview published in the summer of 2006,
Transformation should not be equated with plussing up the defense budget.
Transformation should be associated with how we make choices, using a new
logic, so it’s not necessarily about spending more money. It’s really about23
making better choices.
What Weapons And Systems Are Transformational?
Although transformation involves (and might even depend more significantly
on) changes in organization and concepts of operations, much of the debate over
transformation has centered on which military weapons and systems should be
deemed transformational, and which not. Experts disagree on this question, even when
working from a common definition of transformation. As a result, lists of weapons and
systems that qualify as transformational differ from one source to the next.
Supporters of various weapon procurement programs, keenly aware of the
Administration’s interest in transformation, have been eager to argue that their own
favored weapon systems should be viewed transformational, or at least not as
“legacy” — a label that for many has become synonymous with obsolescence and
22 Walter P. Fairbanks, “Implementing the Transformation Vision,” Joint Force Quarterly,
Issue 42, 3rd Quarter, 2006: 36-42.
23 “An Interview With Acting Director, DOD Office of Force Transformation, Terry J.
Pudas,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 42, 3rd Quarter, 2006: 32-35.
suitability for reduction or termination.24 As a result, a wide variety of military weapons
and systems have been presented at one point or another as transformational, while fewer
have been spotlighted as non-transformational or legacy.
Weapons and systems that have frequently been identified as closely associated
with the Administration’s transformation vision include but are not necessarily
limited to the following:
!C4ISR systems that link military units into highly integrated
networks for conducting NCW,
!forces for countering terrorists and weapons of mass destruction,
!special operations forces,
!precision-guided air-delivered weapons,
!lighter and more mobile Army ground forces, and
!smaller and faster Navy surface ships.
Weapons and systems that have been identified by various observers, not
necessarily by DOD, as non-transformational or legacy include the following:
!weapons and associated C4ISR systems that operate in an isolated,
stand-alone manner rather than as part of a network,
!heavy armored forces for the Army,
!manned tactical aircraft, and
!large, slower-moving Navy surface ships.
How Might It Affect the Defense Industrial Base?
A related matter of interest to Congress is how the Administration’s
transformation plans, if implemented, might affect the composition of U.S. defense
spending and, as a consequence, revenues and employment levels of various firms
in the defense industrial base. In assessing this issue, potential points to consider
include the following:
!Transformational vs. non-transformational/legacy programs.
To some degree, implementing the Administration’s transformation
vision could lead to increased DOD spending on the items listed
above as transformational, and more restrained amounts of spending
on the items listed above as non-transformational or legacy.
24 The term “legacy” was originally a policy-neutral term used to refer to existing or current-
generation weapons that, while not transformational, could well be worth procuring or
maintaining in inventory, at least for some number of years. Over time, however, the term
“legacy” has come to be used in a more pejorative manner, to refer to systems that are not
only not transformational, but obsolescent and ripe for immediate termination or
!Large-scale systems integration work. Implementing the
Administration’s transformation plan could lead to increased DOD
spending for the large-scale systems integration work that is required
to tie individual military weapons and systems together into
smoothly functioning “systems of systems.” Some defense firms,
particularly some of the larger ones, have taken steps to strengthen
and publicize their capacity for performing this kind of work.
!Large, diversified contractors vs. specific units within them and
smaller firms. For larger defense firms that perform a wide range
of work for DOD,25 implementing the Administration’s
transformation plan might transfer revenues from one part of the
company to another without necessarily having a major effect on the
company’s bottom line. The potential effect on individual units
within those firms, however, may be greater, if those facilities
specialize in producing only certain kinds of defense goods or
services. These units — as well as smaller defense firms that
perform a less-diverse array of work for DOD — may be more likely
to experience either an increase or decrease in revenues and
employment levels as a result of transformation.26
!Traditional vs. non-traditional DOD contractors. Some new
technologies that may contribute to transformation, particularly
certain information technologies, are found more in the civilian
economy than in the world of defense-related research. As a result,
implementing the Administration’s transformation plan could shift
some DOD spending away from traditional DOD contractors and
toward firms that previously have done little or no business with
DOD. Indeed, DOD is attempting to encourage firms that have not
previously done business with DOD — so-called “non-traditional”
contractors — to begin doing business with DOD, so that DOD may
make maximum use of applicable technologies from the civilian
How Might It Affect Operations With Allied Forces?
DOD states that it is working toward a transformed force capable of conducting
effective combined operations with other countries’ military forces:
25 Examples of such firms would include Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin,
Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon — the 5 leading U.S. defense contractors that emerged
from the consolidation of the defense sector that began in the early 1990s.
26 For more on the potential effects of transformation on the industrial base, see Peter J.
Dombrowski, Eugene Gholz, Andrew L. Ross, Military Transformation and the Defense
Industry after Next [:] The Defense Industrial Implications of Network-Centric Warfare,
Final Report, Newport Paper #18, (Newport: Naval War College, 2003).
As the U.S. military transforms, our interests are served by making arrangements
for international military cooperation to ensure that rapidly transforming U.S.
capabilities can be applied effectively with allied and coalition capabilities. U.S.
transformation objectives should be used to shape and complement foreign
military developments and priorities of likely partners, both in bilateral and27
Some observers have expressed concern that U.S. defense transformation could
widen the current gap between U.S. and foreign military concepts and capabilities,
which is already quite significant in some respects, and thereby make U.S. forces less
compatible with allied and friendly forces. Reduced compatibility, they believe,
could lead to reduced coalition warfighting effectiveness when the United States
engages in combined operations with allied and friendly forces, increased risk of
fratricide (i.e., friendly-fire) incidents involving U.S. and coalition forces, and
increased risk of political friction between the United States and its coalition
Whether transformation strengthens or weakens the ability of U.S. forces to
participate in combined operations with foreign military forces will depend in part
on decisions made by foreign governments. If these governments, for example,
invest in networking technologies for NCW that are compatible with those used by
U.S. forces, it could increase interoperability with U.S. military forces to a level that
was not possible in pre-NCW times. Conversely, if those governments do not
significantly invest in networking-related technologies for NCW, or invest in
technologies that are not compatible with those of U.S. forces, it could reduce
interoperability between U.S. forces and the forces of those countries below what it
is today. Under this latter scenario, operations involving U.S. and foreign military
forces might be combined operations in name only, with the foreign forces assigned
to marginal or other functions that can be performed acceptably without being fully
incorporated into the U.S. network or without creating complications.
Future interoperability with foreign military forces will also depend in part on
decisions made together by U.S. and foreign leaders. Decisions that align emerging
U.S. concepts of operations with those of foreign military forces, and to hold
combined exercises employing these new concepts of operations, could improve the
potential for conducting effective combined operations. Conversely, lack of
coordination in emerging concepts of operations, or of exercises to practice them
together, could impede interoperability and reduce the potential for effective
The acting director of DOD’s Office of Force Transformation (OFT), in an
interview published in the summer of 2006, stated the following when asked about
the transformation efforts of other countries:
I would point to three or four countries that have really accelerated their
efforts in thinking about transformation, in pursuing this information-age
construct of network-centric operations. We can look to the United Kingdom
and to Australia, who are very engaged in things like network-enabled
27 Military Transformation[:] A Strategic Approach, op. cit., p. 10.
capabilities, and that is to be expected because we operate with each other all the
time and we’re very close. We can also look to countries like Sweden, which has
taken this whole network-centric business to a really high level. Singapore is
doing an enormous amount of work. They have something that’s akin to a
transformation office as well. And of course we’ve got the Allied Command28
Transformation, which is stood up, and this NATO Reaction Force.
What Transformational Changes Has Congress Initiated?
Congress in past years has instituted changes that can be viewed as examples of,
or contributors to, defense transformation, including changes that were opposed (or
at least not proposed or actively supported) by DOD leaders. Examples of such
actions include the following:
!Congress played a leading role in promoting jointness within DOD
by creating the landmark 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act (P.L. 99-
433), which, among other things, strengthened the institutional roles
played by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders in charge of
joint forces assigned to various regions around the world. Although
the term defense transformation was not in common use in 1986, the
Goldwater-Nichols Act today can be viewed, in retrospect, as a
significant early example of defense transformation.29
!Congress in 1986 also expressed concern for the status of SOF
within overall U.S. defense planning and passed legislation —
Section 1311 of the FY1987 defense authorization act (P.L. 99-661)
— to strengthen its position. Among other things, Section 1311
established the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) as
a new unified command. To the extent that enhancement of special
operations forces is now considered a key element of defense
transformation, this action also can be viewed, in retrospect, as an
early example of transformation.
!In 2000, Congress passed legislation — Section 220 of the FY2001
defense authorization act (P.L. 106-398) — that established a
transformation-related goal for unmanned vehicles. The provision
stated that “It shall be a goal of the Armed Forces to achieve the
fielding of unmanned, remotely controlled technology such that —
(1) by 2010, one-third of the aircraft in the operational deep strike
force aircraft fleet are unmanned; and (2) by 2015, one-third of the
operational ground combat vehicles are unmanned.”
28 “An Interview With Acting Director, DOD Office of Force Transformation, Terry J.
Pudas,” Joint Force Quarterly, Issue 42, 3rd Quarter, 2006: 32-35.
29 For background information on the Goldwater-Nichols Act, see CRS Report RL30609,
Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986: Proposals for Reforming the Joint
Officer Personnel Management Program, by Katherine Lemay Brown.
Potential Oversight Issues for Congress
Transformation Under DOD’s New Leadership
One potential oversight issue for Congress relating to defense transformation is
how much DOD will continue to emphasize transformation, and how DOD’s overall
vision for transformation might change, as a result of Robert Gates succeeding
Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense in December 2006. Rumsfeld was a key
designer of DOD’s transformation plans and, at his departure, perhaps the most
prominent single advocate for defense transformation. Gates, whose career prior to
becoming Secretary of Defense was primarily in intelligence rather than defense, is
not generally known as a leading advocate of, or commentator on, defense
transformation. An April 2007 news article stated that:
far-reaching change toward a smaller, more high-tech force was to be a
cornerstone of Rumsfeld's legacy, and he had a vested interest in the answer....
Today, new Defense Secretary Robert Gates has yet to say much about
transformation. It's been largely pushed to the background by the immediate
needs to, if anything, expand the military — a move consistently resisted by30
A November 2006 news article stated:
Course corrections for Iraq are certainly anticipated, but officials predicted
that Mr. Rumsfeld’s push for future military transformation would become a
secondary priority as Mr. Gates deals with the challenges that threaten to
overwhelm both the military and its budget.
“Gates will focus less on transformation and more on understanding the
world around us,” one Pentagon official said. “We all agree that needs to31
A second November 2006 news article stated:
Rumsfeld, who first served as secretary of defense during the Ford
administration from 1975 to 1977, returned as defense secretary in 2001 vowing
to transform the military into a highly mobile and technological force.
But some of his decisions, such as relying more heavily on special forces
rather than large divisions and slashing prized weapon systems, immediately
sparked opposition. And his reputation for brooking little dissent and discounting
military advice engendered growing resentment.
Yet Rumsfeld — who next month will become the longest-serving defense
secretary ever — is also credited with bringing his corporate executive’s knife
30 Anna Mulrine, “Rumsfeld’s Unfinished Plans,” U.S. News & World Report, April 16,
31 Thom Shanker and Mark Mazzetti, “Gaining Military’s Trust Is Early Step For Incoming
Defense Secretary,” New York Times, Nov. 9, 2006.
to a massive bureaucracy in critical need of reform. In particular, he improved
the Defense Department’s famously imprecise financial controls and forced
unpopular changes to an entrenched civilian workforce.
Many of his supporters believe the changes he championed — over the
objections of a culture highly resistant to change — help explain his frayed
relations with military leaders and a handful of retired generals who have32
increasingly called for his removal.
A third November 2006 news article stated:
[Rumsfeld’s] many supporters credit him with making tough decisions,
speeding up the transformation of the military, cutting outdated weapons
systems, advancing the missile defense system, creating a new focus on domestic
security, repositioning forces out of Germany and South Korea, and reorganizing
the Army to make it more adaptable.
But critics shook their heads in dismay as he considered cutting the Army
by two divisions early in his tenure. They also charge that he allowed
strong-willed deputies to drop the military’s adherence to the baseline standards
of the Geneva Convention and created a military prison at Guantanamo Bay
beyond the reach of American courts.
The critics said he equated long experience with antiquated thinking, and
ran roughshod over people who offered alternate ideas. To these critics, the
difficulties of the Iraq war are the natural result of Rumsfeld’s tendency to ignore
the warnings of others.
Lawrence DiRita, a former advisor to Rumsfeld, disputed the criticism and
argued that his former boss accelerated the military’s move toward a more
nimble and faster-moving force.
“Adversaries around the world understand how much more capable we are
today,” DiRita said. “There has been a paradigm shift at the Department of33
Defense toward speed, agility and precision.”
A fourth November 2006 news article stated:
At the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld’s program was called “transformation,” and
it acquired the status of an official ideology. Mr. Rumsfeld was enamored of
missile defense and space-based systems, issues he had worked on during his
years out of office. Like many conservatives, he was wary about the Army
leadership, which he considered to be too wedded to heavy forces and too slow
Within the military establishment, however, the defense secretary quickly
became a contentious figure as his penchant for hands-on management and his
theories on military transformation were given a field test. Mr. Rumsfeld did not
32 Bryan Bender, “Secretary’s Style Drew Resentment,” Boston Globe, Nov. 9, 2006.
33 Julian E. Barnes, “Rumsfeld Sought A New Role For Pentagon,” Los Angeles Times, Nov.
decide how many troops would be deployed for the war in Iraq, but he helped
pick the generals who did. He never hesitated to push, prod and ask questions to
shape their recommendations....
In terms of his transformation agenda, Mr. Rumsfeld enjoyed, at best,
mixed success. He overhauled the cold-war-era system of military bases around
the world, a decision that has led to the reduction in American forces in Europe
and Korea. He also insisted on greater cooperation among the military services.
“On the positive side he brought the armed forces to a much higher degree
of joint thinking and integration,” said Barry M. Blechman, a member of the
Defense Policy Board, which advises Mr. Rumsfeld, and the president of DFI
International, a consulting firm.
Still, despite Mr. Rumsfeld’s avowed intention to challenge orthodox
Pentagon thinking, few major weapons programs were canceled and the
military’s force structure and spending patterns were not radically altered.
“At the end of the day you would have to say that for Rumsfeld,
transformation was more promise than reality,” said Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr.,
the executive director of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“He made a start, but these things take time, and it is clear now that Iraq has34
denied him that time.”
Specific Elements of DOD’s Transformation Vision
Certain specific elements of DOD’s transformation vision, at least as articulated
during Rumsfeld’s tenure as Secretary of Defense, have been subject to debate at
various points. These include the following:
!the emphasis on network-centric warfare,
!the planned total size of the force,
!the Army’s transformation plan,
!the balance of air power vs. ground forces,
!the balance of tactical aircraft and unmanned air systems vs. long-
!the emphasis on special operations forces,
!forces for stability operations,
!the role of reserve forces,
!ballistic missile defense, and
!the meaning of, and emphasis on, effects-based operations.
Overall Leadership and Management of Transformation
A December 2004 report from the Government Accountability Office on DOD’s
transformation efforts stated:
34 Michael R. Gordon, “Rumsfeld, A Force For Change, Did Not Change With The Times
Amid Iraq Tumult,” New York Times, Nov. 9, 2006.
DOD has taken positive steps to design and implement a complex strategy to
transform U.S. military capabilities, but it has not established clear leadership
and accountability or fully adopted results-oriented management tools to help
guide and successfully implement this approach. The responsibility for
transforming military capabilities is currently spread among various DOD
organizations, with no one person or entity having the overarching and ongoing
leadership responsibilities or the accountability for achieving transformation
results. In addition, although DOD established an informal crosscutting group
that meets occasionally to discuss transformation issues, this group has no
charter, formal responsibilities, or authority to direct changes. GAO has
previously reported that key practices for successful transformation include
leadership that sets the direction of transformation and assigns accountability for
results, and the use of crosscutting implementation teams, which can provide the
day-to-day management needed for success. In recent testimony on DOD’s
business transformation, we underscored the importance of these elements and
stated that DOD has not routinely assigned accountability for performance to
specific organizations or individuals who have sufficient authority to accomplish
goals. DOD officials believe that a single organization accountable for
transformation results and a formal implementation team are not necessary
because existing informal mechanisms involve key organizations that can
individually implement needed changes, and an annual assessment of
transformation roadmaps is prepared for the Secretary of Defense, who can direct
the transformation efforts of each organization. However, in the absence of clear
leadership, accountability, and a formal implementation mechanism, DOD may
have difficulty resolving differences among competing priorities, directing
resources to the highest priorities, and ensuring progress should changes in
senior personnel occur. In addition, informal mechanisms are not sufficient to
provide transparency to the process or assurance to Congress that DOD is
allocating resources to address needed improvements rather than desired
While DOD’s strategy to transform military capabilities is a good first step, DOD
has not fully developed results-oriented management tools that can help
managers effectively implement and manage major efforts, and focus on
achieving results. Specifically, DOD has not revised its initial transformation
goals, set in 2001, to reflect new joint concepts — thus, DOD lacks a foundation
for developing other tools such as performance goals and measures and linking
specific resources needed to achieve each goal. DOD faces challenges in
developing these tools because the joint concepts are being developed
concurrently with its plans to acquire new capabilities. But without these
results-oriented tools, it will be difficult for DOD to determine the extent to
which its transformation efforts are achieving desired results, to measure its
overall progress, or to provide transparency for how billions of dollars in planned35
investments are being applied.
Experiments And Exercises
Some observers have expressed concern about whether experiments and
exercises carried out nominally in support of transformation are sufficiently focused
35 U.S. Government Accountability Office. Military Transformation[:] Clear Leadership,
Accountability, and Management Tools Are Needed to Enhance DOD’s Efforts to Transform
Military Capabilities, GAO-05-70, December 2004.
on exploring transformational warfighting ideas as opposed to demonstrating existing
non-transformational capabilities. Observers have also expressed concerned about
whether experiments and exercises are sufficiently challenging and realistic, and
whether they are “scripted” to ensure the success of favored transformation ideas.36
Potential questions for Congress regarding transformation-related tests and exercises
include the following:
Culture of Innovation
DOD officials and other observers note that instilling a culture of innovation
among DOD personnel will be critical to implementing transformation.37 Instilling
such a culture could involve things such as actions to create an institutional and
workplace receptiveness to new ideas, procedures for protecting people who
generate new ideas, and avoidance of the so-called “zero-defect” approach for
assessing performance and selecting people for advancement.38
Potential challenges to creating a culture of innovation include a widespread
familiarity and comfort with the status quo, the so-called “not-invented-here”
36 Some observers, for example, expressed concern that USJFCOM’s large Millennium
Challenge 2002 exercise may have been scripted to ensure the success of favored DOD
transformation ideas. See Richard Hart Sinnreich, “Cooking The Books Won’t Help The
Military Transform,” Lawton (OK) Constitution, Aug. 18, 2002, p. 4; Dale Eisman,
“Pentagon Leaders Defend War Game,” Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, Aug. 21, 2002; Michael
Gilbert, “General: Stryker Unit’s Performance Not At Issue,” Tacoma New Tribune, Aug.
22, 2002; Dennis O’Brien, “Controversial War Game Improved Warriors,” Norfolk
Virginian-Pilot, Aug. 23, 2002; Sean D. Naylor, “Fixed War Game?,” Army Times, Aug. 26,
2002, p. 8; Jason Ma, “In Simulation, Navy Suffers Heavy Losses, Including Aircraft
Carrier,” Inside the Navy, Aug. 26, 2002: 1; Mackubin Thomas Owens, “Let’s Not Rig Our
War Games,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 29, 2002; William F. Kernan, “Joint War Games,”
Army Times, Sept. 16, 2002, p. 52 (letter to the editor); Bradley Graham, “Criticism Of War
Game Rejected,” Washington Post, Sept. 18, 2002, p. 27; Elaine M. Grossman, “Generals
Take Stock Of U.S. Vulnerability To Common Technologies, “Inside the Pentagon, Sept.
Sept. 22, 2002, p. B5; Lionel Van Deerlin, “Taking Their Warships And Going Home,” San
Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 6, 2002; and Jeff Huber, “Invasion of the Transformers,” U.S.
Naval Institute Proceedings, October 2003, pp. 74-76, particularly the section entitled “New
Dogs, Old Tricks.” See, also, Loren B. Thompson, “Revolution Gone Awry[:] How
Transformation May Undermine Military Preparedness,” Remarks Before the Council on
Foreign Relations Security Roundtable, Nov. 18, 2002 and Keith J. Costa, “Konetzni:
Transformation In Need Of ‘Solid Intellectual Analysis,’” Inside the Pentagon, May 22,
37 See, for example, Geoff Fein, “Intellectual, Cultural Change Needed For Transformation,
Official Says,” Defense Daily, Jan. 24, 2006.
38 Under the “zero-defect” approach, only applicants who have made zero mistakes are
selected for promotion, while applicants who have one or more mistakes on their record are
ruled out for promotion. Critics of this approach argue that people who have made no
mistakes in their careers are also likely to have never tried to accomplish anything that, if
successful, would have qualified as a useful innovation.
syndrome,39 a cadre of senior officers who were taught, and have spent their entire
careers abiding by, traditional ideas and practices, and the difficulty of quantifying
or explaining the potential advantages of proposed innovations. A 2002 survey of
more than 2,500 U.S. military officers provided mixed evidence on whether those
officers believed such a culture was being created.40
Adequacy of Information for Congress
Transformation is a broad topic with many elements subject to frequent change
and development. In addition, measuring progress in attaining transformation can be
a complex undertaking. Transformation thus raises a potential issue as to whether
Congress has adequate information and tools for assessing DOD’s progress in
implementing transformation. Potential questions for Congress on this issue include
!Are the defense budget and related budget-justification documents
that are submitted to Congress adequately organized and presented
to support the incorporation of the concept of transformation into
Congress’s review of the budget? If not, in what ways should the
organization and content of the budget and the budget-justification
documents be changed?
!Does DOD provide Congress with sufficiently detailed and periodic
information about the status of DOD transformation efforts to
support congressional oversight of these efforts? Should Congress,
for example, require DOD to submit periodic reports on the status of
transformation in general, or of specific aspects of transformation?
!Does Congress have adequate metrics for measuring military
capability in light of transformation-related changes, such as NCW,
or for assessing DOD’s success in implementing transformation?
Transformation As All-Purpose Justification Tool
Some observers expressed concern that the Administration’s regular (some
might even say habitual) use of the term transformation in discussing its proposals
for DOD during the period 2001-2004 turned the concept of transformation into an
empty slogan or buzz-phrase. Other observers were concerned that the
Administration invoked the term transformation as an all-purpose rhetorical tool for
justifying its various proposals for DOD, whether they relate to transformation or not,
39 This refers to an inclination to be uninterested, or hostile to, in ideas that come from
outside one’s own organization.
40 Thomas G. Mahnken and James R. FitzSimonds, The Limits of Transformation: Officer
Attitudes Toward the Revolution in Military Affairs, Newport Paper #17, (Newport: Naval
War College, 2003). See also Gordon Lubold, “Survey Shows Many Officers Skeptical Of
Transformation,” Marine Corps Times, Nov. 24, 2003, p. 22.) See also Thomas E. Ricks,
“A Test Case For Bush’s Military Reform Pledge?” Washington Post, Feb. 20, 2002, p. 13.
and for encouraging minimal debate on those proposals by tying the concept of
transformation to the urgent need to fight the war on terrorism.
Concerns along these lines were heightened by the “Defense Transformation for
the 21st Century Act of 2003,” a 205-page legislative proposal that the Administration
submitted to Congress on April 10, 2003, that would, among other things, permit
DOD to establish its own policies for hiring, firing, and compensating its civil service
employees; change the terms in office for certain senior generals and admirals; give
DOD increased authority to transfer funds between DOD budget accounts; alter laws
relating to the protection of marine mammals; and eliminate many DOD reporting
requirements that were instituted to assist Congress in conducting oversight of DOD
Potential oversight questions for Congress relating to the Administration’s use
of transformation in justifying its proposals for DOD include the following:
!Did the Administration debase the concept of transformation through
!Did the Administration, in justifying its proposals for DOD, draw
adequate distinctions between proposals that are transformational
and proposals that are not transformational but might nevertheless
be worthwhile for other reasons?
!Did the Administration use the term transformation in part to cloud
potential issues pertaining to its proposals for DOD or to minimize
congressional debate on those proposals?
!Did the Administration use the large, complex, and somewhat
abstract topic of transformation in part to occupy Congress’s
attention and thereby distract Congress from conducting detailed
oversight on DOD’s proposed budgets, or to keep Congress off
balance as it attempted to conduct oversight of DOD activities?
Legislative Activity For FY2008
The proposed FY2008 defense budget was submitted to Congress in early
41 See, for example, John M. Donnelly, “Hill Rebuffing Rumsfeld Plan To Kill Reports To
Congress,” Defense Week Daily Update, May 15, 2003; John Liang, “House Democrats
Object To DoD Transformation Legislation,” InsideDefense.com, May 14, 2003; William
Matthews and Gopal Ratnam, “Transformation Act Draws U.S. Lawmakers’ Fire,”
DefenseNews, May 5, 2003, p. 1; and Lawrence Korb, “Pentagon Independence,”
DefenseNews, June 2, 2003, p. 29. For more on this proposed legislative package, see CRS
Report RL31916, Defense Department Original Transformation Proposal: Compared to
Existing Law, by Robert L. Goldich, et al.