Abizaid says networked force key to success in Iraq

The U.S. can still win the war on terror and the war in Iraq, but needs to be a more networked force to do so, retired U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid told the Transformation Warfare Conference last month.

Aug 1st, 2007

By John McHale

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The U.S. can still win the war on terror and the war in Iraq, but needs to be a more networked force to do so, retired U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid told the Transformation Warfare Conference last month.

“The enemy is more networked than we are and his commander’s intent more broadly known that ours,” said the former Commander of U.S. Central Command during his address at the conference sponsored by the U.S. Naval Institute, AFCEA International, and AFCEA Hampton Roads and Tidewater Chapters.

This need for networking starts at the top with more intelligence integration needed between the services, he said. The services must also share common platforms-the days of an Air Force program only being for the Air Force are over.

Every platform must be a joint sensor platform, he added.

Abizaid said networking and tactical decision-making capabilities also should be provided to the lower levels of the battlefield, to the individual soldiers.

The enemy has that capability, he continued, its version of networked command and control is the individual cell phone, Abizaid said; it is that simple.

The U.S. needs to get technology and tactical decision making to the lower levels of the battlefield so young soldiers can act immediately “to fight the close fight,” he said.

Networking the individual soldiers will be necessary in this unique war.

“Asymmetrical warfare is with us for next 50 years,” Abizaid said. “They believe asymmetrical warfare is the only way they will defeat us.” Nuclear weapons are at the high-end of that goal.

The U.S. military and its allies have performed well, “never losing a tactical engagement,” Abizaid said. However, for real change to take place and for the enemy to be eventually defeated the U.S. and its allies must wield their substantial economic, diplomatic, and political power in Iraq.

The enemy will not give up this fight easily; it is part of a struggle that has been going on for 500 years, Abizaid said. It cannot be won overnight by traditional military techniques.

Abizaid said to win “we must control virtual space” as well.

Al Qaeda and other groups also get their message through much more clearly than the U.S. does, Abizaid said. He said he believes the U.S. must improve their cyberspace efforts to combat the success the terrorist have in propaganda and in recruitment of new terrorists.

Abizaid added that getting the proper message out is also the duty of the press and political leaders. They need to better explain the cause of the U.S. in this struggle, he said.

Today’s press is not a World War II press, Abizaid said. The Internet has changed it dramatically, enabling coverage of events and battles to happen instantaneously.

Just as today’s press covers extensively and holds accountable what the U.S. does in the war, they need to do the same with the enemy, he said.

No one is covering what the enemy is doing and why they are doing it and this needs to be reported, Abizaid said.

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