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Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Conference

By ADM Harry B. Harris, Jr. | U.S. Pacific Command | Oct. 4, 2016

Adm. Harry Harris

Commander, U.S. Pacific Command

Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Conference

Skype from Honolulu, HI to Washington, DC

 October 4, 2016

As Delivered



I’ve been given just a few minutes to explain the operating environment in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and the need to develop and integrate cross domain land-based capabilities into joint operations. That means I have absolutely no time to make jokes about Army football…which is too bad…because I’ve got lots of ‘em.

It says on my script I should 'pause for boos.'

Most of you probably think I'm just a token Navy guy in a green suit for this panel...but in all seriousness, I think it's telling that that we have Secretary Work, Navy Under Secretary Davidson, General Neller and General Goldfein -- great game last Saturday, by the way -- and Australia's Major General Gus McLachlan addressing A.U.S.A. -- it goes to show how truly joint and combined the U.S. military in general and the U.S. Army in particular have become.

It demonstrates our wisdom to think and fight jointly...and to work with critical allies like Australia to solve our collective security challenges.  That’s why I’m proud to work with all of our teammates in operations across all domains – land, sea, air, space, and cyber – in the vast Indo-Asia-Pacific. For us to 'be all that we can be' – pun intended – we can’t just think about one domain, or one Service, or even one nation.

I'm already on-the-record for saying that our security environment now, and in the future, will require all the Services to exert influence in non-traditional domains. That means the Army’s got to be able to sink ships, neutralize satellites, shoot down missiles, and hack or jam the enemy's ability to command and control its forces.

World events are underscoring the urgency to develop this cross-domain capability -- especially here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. Secretary of Defense Carter has rightly called this area the single most consequential region for America’s future. He’s also identified five global challenges to U.S. security that drive our defense planning and budgeting – North Korea, China, Russia, the Islamic State or ISIL, and Iran. And guess what? Four of these challenges are resident in the PACOM area of responsibility. In order to stay ahead of these challenges, we can't allow institutional inertia to stand in our way to achieve cross domain operations.

So let me take the next few minutes to layout the strategic and operational environment here in the Indo-Asia-Pacific. I’ll then provide you my idea of what a true land-based cross domain capability integrated into a joint force offers us. Finally, I’ll speak candidly about what may keep us from realizing this capability within a time frame that’s operationally relevant.

To characterize this AOR, we must first recognize that, despite the fact that the PACOM Commander has been a Navy job for the past 70 years, PACOM is not just a 'maritime' theater. Even though two-thirds of our AOR is covered by water, our outstanding Pacific Air Forces commander, General Shags O’Shaughnessy, reminds me that it’s 100 percent covered by air.

And my Naval Academy classmate, Admiral Cecil Haney, the STRATCOM Commander, reminds me that it’s 100 percent covered by space. And as he's watched North Korea's cyber activity from his USFK headquarters in Seoul, my good friend General Vince Brooks reminds me that hackers know no boundaries.

So it's clear that we can’t get tunnel vision and focus solely on one domain.

All of you should now be able to see a slide showing a picture of the world. This is the most important slide in the slide deck...it answers the question of why the Indo Asia Pacific matters to America. More people live inside this circle than live outside of this circle. By 2050, 7 out of every 10 earthlings will live inside that circle. Think about what this means for resource competition...for migration...for security...and the incredible potential engine of innovation and creativity that's represented by this circle.

But that’s not all. This circle within the PACOM AO also has thousands of islands and an untold number of maritime land features, like exposed reefs and rocks, scattered throughout this vast area.

It’s no secret that the sovereignty of some of these features is disputed...and that some of these disputes involve China and Russia. Both nations are investing in Anti-Access/Area Denial, or A2/AD -- sophisticated capabilities with long range missiles backed by networked ships, submarines, and aircraft. Let me give a shout out to CNO Richardson for his recent op-ed on A2/AD. The term means a lot to a lot of folks – so much so that it may mean anything to anyone.

And let's not forget North Korea, the only nation to have tested nuclear weapons this century. Last month's nuclear test, North Korea's largest ever and second this year, follows an unprecedented campaign of provocations including ballistic missile launches, which Pyongyang claims are intended to serve as delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons targeting the United States and our allies, South Korea and Japan.

So it’s safe to say that PACOM is a multi-domain theater with growing populations, and growing militaries with high end capabilities. This scene-setter brings me to my idea of what a true land-based cross domain capability offers us -- an integrated joint force capable of deterring rising powers by denying them the domains in which they seek to operate.

We must be able to execute joint operations across far more domains than planners accounted for in the past. We need a degree of ‘jointness’ in which no one military Service dominates, and no domain has a fixed boundary. A Combatant Commander must be able to create effects from any single domain to targets in every domain in order to fight tonight and win.

So it's time to break some rice bowls. Land forces must be capable of supporting, enabling, and when necessary, controlling operations in the other domains. Don’t worry, I’m not picking on the Army. I’ve got the same message for the other Services in venues similar to this.

When facing sophisticated multi-domain threats, our forces must be able to disperse. These dispersed and distributed forces -- joint and combined -- must be protected and supplied. Greater integration with our Pacific allies and partners is an imperative.

Multi-domain battle in the Indo-Asia-Pacific requires us to move beyond bilateral security arrangements toward multilateral frameworks...a principled security network, to use Secretary Carter’s words. We must integrate allied and partner battle networks and strengthen allied and partner capabilities to make our forces truly interoperable in operational environments.

Stagnant and declining defense budgets around the world mean that we need to make informed decisions to provide cost effective ways to secure sovereign domains and ensure rights within the shared domains. Mobile, deployable land-based systems that can be integrated with those belonging to our partners are probably a good place for us to invest.

Countries like Japan and Vietnam already proved that they are serious about building land based systems necessary to defend their coast lines and archipelagic spaces.

We have to build deployable, expeditionary, land-based air, missile, and maritime denial weapons systems that are integrated into domain awareness systems and can be shared with our key allies and partners. Then we can ensure access to shared domains and deter both aggression and coercion.

For example, I believe that the Army should look at ways to use the Paladin and HIMARS systems to keep potential enemies' naval forces at risk. If we get this right, the Army would kill the archer instead of dealing with its arrows.

Another area of cross domain warfare in which the Army is an expert is Ballistic Missile Defense. Let’s apply some of the lessons from THAAD and Patriot to learn how other branches of the Army can fight and win the multi-domain battle.

Taking a new path to turn these visions into reality will not be easy. I bet that many of you have been told the reason why we aren't doing more is because, quote, ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it,' unquote. The fancy phrase for this situation is 'path dependence.'

An example of how path dependence can kill an organization involves the famous fight between Fujifilm and Kodak. Both companies were aware of the coming digital age as consumers began to alter their choices in the photographic, or wet film, marketplace.

Fujifilm was brave enough to create a new path for consumers -- one that capitalized on the culture of photography and not the medium of photography, as well as diversification into new lines of business brought in by the digital age…like healthcare, document solutions, and imaging technology.

Meanwhile, the Kodak behemoth was slow to change and was hesitant to meaningfully divest from its dying wet film business. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 while Fujifilm thrived.

So path dependence is the idea that the answers to current challenges come from past knowledge and decisions that have long since been made. It doesn’t take into account how stale or outmoded the information that informed that decision might be. There is no analysis, ‘it’s simply the way we’ve always done it.’

This manner of doing business can be dangerous. We need to look at what the future may be sending our way to challenge old assumptions. Then we can create the vision for what we need to do to be successful.

For instance, take multi-domain battle. It's a difficult concept for us because we’ve been raised in cultures where our systems for development and procurement are based on parochial Services focused on single domain warfare. In order to realize the idea I described, and the vision of this panel, we have to break this path dependence.

Secretary Work and the Third Offset have given us the framework in which to do just that. Generals Perkins and McMaster have provided the Army with a vision for cross domain fires.

I’ll borrow a metaphor from Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar Animation, and tell you that these gentlemen have given birth to an Ugly Baby.

As shocking as this slide might be, stick with me for a second. Catmull explains that ideas are like Ugly Babies. If you dedicate time and resources to their care and feeding, they could grow up to be handsome, important, and successful...like this next slide.

Ideas such as the Third Offset, multi-domain battle, and cross domain fires are just like Catmull's Ugly Baby thesis.

The thing preventing us from nurturing these Ugly Babies is a very Hungry Beast.

As Catmull explains, the Hungry Beast is all those things that we have to do because we set up our systems to work a certain way with certain inputs…like our Service cultures and our Service-focused procurement systems. I’d even put sequestration in that category.

Secretary Work has given us the Ugly Baby of pursuing a Third Offset. This initiative could help us realize the power inherent to multi-domain battle and cross domain fires.

And if we feed the Hungry Beast at the expense of the Ugly Baby, it will be tough to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific and around the world.

Now, because I’m from Tennessee, and because my state is home to straight talkers, I’ll close by giving a very specific answer to a question that General McMaster posed to each of the panelists…what do you want the Army to do?

Before I leave PACOM, I’d like to see the Army’s land forces conduct exercises to sink a ship, shoot down a missile, and the air craft that fired that missile…near simultaneously…in a complex environment where our joint and combined forces are operating in other domains.

I don’t have a whole lot of time left at PACOM. Good luck.

Thank you very much.


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