In late November, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld named retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski to head a new Pentagon Office of Force Transformation (OFT), aiming to increase the velocity of an effort to 'transform' the U.S. military to better face the new challenges of the 21st century. Cebrowski now reports directly to Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and has around 20 staff in two offices at the Pentagon and nearby Rosslyn, Va.
The OFT will be working on five broad issue areas: linkages to key elements of strategy; concept formulation; technology issues; experimentation programs, at the joint and service level; and operational prototyping. Five OFT departments or sections have been set up to work on each of these areas.
In addition, Cebrowski will evaluate each service's transformation activities and recommend steps to integrate those activities into overall DoD transformation efforts. In order to do this, Cebrowski launched a study on assessing and merging Army, Navy, and Air Force transformation programs in February. He also is monitoring ongoing experimentation programs.
OFT's five sections draw both on their own staff - each is made up of a director (as noted below) plus three or four staff - as well as a consultants from a wide range of research institutes, consulting firms, and defense contractors in the Washington area. Only two of the five sections are headed by military personnel, though the office's deputy director is also military, former Cebrowski Naval War College aide Capt. Terry Pudas.
The strategy section, however, is comprised entirely of outside thinkers on transformation, including Andrew Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who was one of the first to use 'transformation' as a distinct term, and Hans Binnendijk from the National Defense University. Part of the reason for this approach may be to ease financial worries, as the office's funding is still not on a firm footing within the varied revenue streams of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
For the future, a key question about the office is whether it will have enough influence to effectively alter the direction of the rest of the department. DoD agencies and the military services traditionally have been skeptical of radical transformation, preferring slower evolutionary development. The extent to which the OFT forces change on an inertia-filled profession will be the key on which its success will be judged.