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WASHINGTON — Next year, when Pentagon leaders roll out its Quadrennial Defense Review, battlefield logistics and intelligence won’t make the list of successful transformational issues, said retired Vice Adm. Arthur Cebrowski, who heads the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation.

“Folks will look to whatever the last operation is and hold that up as an example,” Cebrowski told defense writers Tuesday. “Where you’re not going to see people waving the flag and saying ‘this is really good’ is battlefield logistics or battlefield intelligence.

“If those things were good, the 3rd Infantry Division would have been able to deliver some spare parts,” he said.

The QDR is a congressionally mandated midrange planner done every four years that lays out the military’s view of threats, military capabilities and strategies.

“That doesn’t mean that was a failure. Those systems were pushed to their limits and they were pushed to the limits by a new style of warfare,” he said, citing guerrilla warfare, terrorism and subversion as examples.

So the services are looking for fixes, such as the Army’s 10 new lighter and more agile Brigade Combat Team (Units of Action) to new communication satellites, and vertical lift aircraft that can carry heavy loads and fly long distances.

But the office has failed to shake loose systems and plans rooted in the Cold War era, there are no measurable successes, said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the think tank Lexington Institute. Transformation is the latest failure in Thompson’s listing of defense shortcomings over the past several years.

“And now, in the summer of 2004, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s most cherished initiative — military transformation — is beginning to unravel,” Thompson wrote in a July 22 paper.

“The waning influence of transformation is readily apparent to those who have reviewed the Strategic Planning Guidance for the 2006 defense budget and the revisions of U.S. national-security strategy due for release after the election,” he wrote.

“But the place where transformation is retreating fastest is the Pentagon’s investment accounts. Several huge initiatives championed by the administration are failing to successfully navigate the political minefield formed by unanticipated needs, budget constraints, congressional skepticism and technological complexity.”

He cites costly changes in the Army’s Future Combat System, a family of fighting vehicles that is the centerpiece of the modern fighting force; the effectiveness and ability of the office to launch space-based radar and communications systems, and the setbacks in the multiservice Joint Strike Fighter.

“Rumsfeld set the stage for these reverses by trying to impose change from above rather than working with Congress and the services,” Thompson wrote.

Cebrowski challenged that notion, saying transformation is coming from the grassroots, from those returning from combat zones and instituting some of the change from experience.

Some initiatives aren’t seen in equipment alone, he said.

Some changes are seen at service academies, for example, where young lieutenants and captains, sharing lessons learned from the battlefield, are instead teaching the faculty.


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