Leadership: November 3, 2004

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The U.S. Department of Defense is developing an information system that will let all senior commanders, in all the services, know the status (and availability for action) of all major units, at all times. Youd think that such a system would have been available long ago, because every time the United States goes to war, the senior commander on the spot has to be provided with units from all the services. Getting the troops, ships and aircraft together for the 2001 Afghanistan war, and the 2003 Iraq operations, produced the usual complaints over inadequate, or untimely, information on who had what, and when it could be sent into action. The public didnt see any of this, as staff officers and commanders quickly improvised and got enough troops and equipment to where it was needed. But everyone realized that there had to be a better way, and the old timers were well aware that this sort of thing had happened over and over again since World War II. 

So why should a joint database come to pass now? Because jointness (all the services working closely together) has become more accepted. After twenty years of effort by jointness advocates in all the services, and among Department of Defense civilian officials, the momentum seems to be there. Of course, what the commanders in each branch fear is that this combined reporting system may result in a more senior commander from another service telling them what to do. Those fears are not unfounded, and that sort of thing has already been happening since the early 1990s. 

So if you hear mention of the JFCOM (Joint Forces Command) global visibility tool, youll know what its all about.

 


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