At the heart of the Capstone Concept for Joint Operations released Sept. 28 by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is an idea called globally integrated operations, which will be used to build and organize Joint Force 2020.
The concept stresses the military’s agility and flexibility as the United States faces unclear and unknown threats in the future.
It is a confusing time, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey noted in the forward to the concept. While the overall security situation is trending toward greater stability, “destructive technologies are available to a wider and more disparate range of adversaries,” he wrote. “As a result, the world is potentially more dangerous than before.”
To face these varied threats, a globally postured U.S. joint force must be able to quickly combine capabilities – both U.S. and allied nations – across “domains, echelons, geographic boundaries and organizational affiliations,” said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. George J. Flynn, the director of Joint Force Development on the Joint Staff. Flynn spoke about the Capstone concept during a recent interview.
A key aspect of the Capstone concept is these networks of forces can “form, evolve, dissolve and reform in different arrangements in time and space with significantly greater fluidity” than today’s force.
Events will happen faster, Flynn said, and the military has to create the ability to operate at “the speed of the challenges.”
There are eight key elements to globally integrated operations. The first is mission command. “This is all about people, it’s all about empowering leaders to be able to operate on trust and on commander’s intent,” Flynn said. This means, he said, developing leaders who understand the environments they are working in, react well to surprise and uncertainty and who can lead transitions.
Another element is to seize, retain and exploit the initiative in time and across domains. “We want to be in position to control the pace of operations or control the tempo,” Flynn said.
The United States will have a smaller force so this is going to rely on partnering, the general said. This means not just partnering with allies, but other U.S. agencies and international agencies.
“Partnering means being able to work with anyone who has a stake,” in the outcomes, Flynn said.
Integrated operations means flexibility, he said. Joint commands can be local or functional or both. “As we look to the future and how we form out joint task forces, this concept says we need to have flexibility in how we do these relationships,” he said. “The chairman sees this document as the lens to see if we are developing the force he needs to do that,” Flynn added.
Globally integrated operations place a premium on partnering, he said. This allows the U.S. military to absorb qualities and capabilities from other agencies, helping to employ the “whole of government” strategy.
Joint forces also must leverage integration to improve capabilities across domains. “What is new today are the cyber and space domains,” the general said. The U.S. military, he said, needs to use capabilities from one domain to increase the advantages it enjoys in these new domains.
Another concept element, he said, involves small-footprint capabilities such as cyber operations, space, special operations, global strike and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance that will play a more important role in the future.
The last element of the concept is joint operations, he said, which will become more and more precise to lessen the risks of unintended consequences.
The Capstone concept will permeate the military from professional military education, to training, to equipping, to mindset, Flynn said.
Last week, Dempsey said that 80 percent of Joint Force 2020 is already in the ranks. The remaining 20 percent that’s being developed must dovetail with the concept, he said, because it will serve as a catalyst for the military.