Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Mattis: Military should rely less on technology

May. 13, 2010 - 11:59PM   |   Last Updated: May. 13, 2010 - 11:59PM  |  
  • Filed Under

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The military relies too much on technology, and soldiers need to practice more "with the radios turned off," a key general said.

  • Please enable JavaScript for your browser in order to use armytimes.com.com.
Want to read more?
Current Subscribers
Access to Army Times Prime is free for current Army Times subscribers.
Log in
Haven't registered online?
Activate Account
New Subscribers
Start your subscription to Army Times Prime for as little as 59¢ a week!
Subscribe

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The military relies too much on technology, and soldiers need to practice more "with the radios turned off," a key general said.

"We must be able to operate when systems go down," Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, head of Joint Forces Command, told a luncheon audience Thursday at a joint war-fighting conference. "It is much more important for officers to get comfortable operating with uncertainty rather than to keep grasping for more certainty."

Mattis recalled when, as a young officer training during the Cold War in Germany, radios were turned off so that units could operate without directly relying on headquarters for intelligence or direction.

"What are we creating today with our command-and-control systems?" Mattis asked. "I don't think we have turned off our radios in the last eight years. What kind of systems are we creating where we depend on this connection to headquarters? While we want the most robust communications, we also want to make sure we can operate with none of it."

Leaders also need to plan on that possible loss of communications, he said.

"Mission-type orders rather than bandwidth are the key to the future," he said. "We need officers who can operate off a commander's intent, understand what the boss several levels above wants, and carry them out to suffocate the enemy's hopes."

Mattis called on industry to help.

"If what you're doing is going to enable the human interface, then you're on the right track," he said. "If not, you don't want things that take geniuses on the battlefield to operate. We need to create systems and organizations and equipment that don't need a master's degree in math.

"We've got to integrate air, land and sea but equally so cyber and space," Mattis declared, "and I do not want a single point of failure."

Mattis, often a blunt speaker who has had his fair share of run-ins with the media over the years, repeatedly called on the military "to define the narrative."

The military needs officers "who are able to win the battle of the narrative, to be there first with the truth. The true high ground today is not just the truth but the perceptions of the global audience."

The military needs to back up the government's position, he said.

"Military officers must stand up and bring confidence. Explain it in military and ethical terms to a world audience. Ultimately," he said, "we're going to defeat these enemies with better ideas."

Soldiers are often able to put ideas into terms easily translated through the media, he said.

"A lance corporal in Iraq is sometimes able to better explain our Iraq policy than all the generals can," he said.

Mattis was the final speaker at the three-day conference, sponsored by AFCEA and the U.S. Naval Institute, and left to a standing ovation.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

The Army at 420K
One retired colonel is campaigning for more cuts -- and Congress is listening

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook