By Ian Graham
Special to American Forces Press Service
March 17, 2010 - U.S. Joint Forces Command is providing military leaders with valuable insight for the future of the military, the command's chief of staff said this week. Air Force Maj. Gen. David M. Edgington discussed a paper called U.S. Joint Forces Command Joint Operating Environment 2010 during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable March 15.
The document depicts the strategic framework of the future operational environment and its implications on the joint force, both structurally and operationally, Edgington said. The idea behind the new plan, he explained, is to help U.S. combatant commanders determine their resource requirements over the coming years.
"What we're trying to do is set the context for what are possibly evolutions in the future," he said, explaining that the document is "speculative," not "predictive."
The document doesn't claim one thing will happen as opposed to other possible outcomes, the general said. Rather, it simply lays out a number of possible outcomes. From there, he said, it's the job of the military's top brass to determine which are most likely, and then to prepare for one or more of the outcomes.
The Joint Forces Command document uses data from outlets ranging from the Energy Department and the Congressional Budget Office to civilian publications such as "The Economist." Though the report doesn't necessarily contain anything brand new, Edgington said, it uses available data to support different speculations.
"We're trying to lay out possibilities for the future, so we can encourage intellectual dialogue [and] strategic discussion as to what types of futures we should be prepared for ... so we can determine the implications for the future force," Edgington explained. "We aren't pretending to try to predict that any of these things will happen."
Using energy as an example, Edgington noted that energy resources and the effects of energy consumption pose possible threats to national security. But the report doesn't necessarily link those outcomes to operations in, for example, Afghanistan or Iraq. Though someone can make a case for connecting Afghanistan with energy-related challenges, Edgington said, specific connections are not the report's aim. "That's certainly not our intent to focus on a specific country and their relation to a certain challenge," he said.
Neither, he added, does the Joint Forces Command document make any recommendations for required resources or action. Those decisions, the general said, are left to the leadership in the services. From there, the information might be transformed into specific missions or training requirements for rank-and-file troops, but the strategic picture Joint Forces Command is presenting is intended for higher-level officers, Edgington said.
(Ian Graham is assigned to the Defense Media Activity's emerging media directorate.)