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General Discusses Focus on Younger Force, Cyber Capabilities

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2013 – NATO officials are closely analyzing what the future cyber warrior will look like as the war landscape shifts from air, ground and sea to cyberspace, Allied Command Transformation’s deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and policy said here this week.

In an interview during a March 26 “Young Professionals Forging the Future” event at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Army Maj. Gen. Peter C. Bayer Jr. said it’s time to lean into the younger generation in preparation for new and more complex challenges.

Enhanced e-training and application of cyber skill sets need to be customized to the millennial generation born into, rather than adapting to the information age, Bayer said.

“The folks that are going to solve the problems of 2030 [are] not me; I’ll be doing something else,” the general said. “It’s some 25-year-old already in the uniform of their nation. They already have experience in Afghanistan or somewhere else. They’re going to be the two- or three-star generals or admirals solving problems.”

Bayer said his charge is to develop ongoing training and an open problem-solving environment to tap into the minds of young leaders who can bring an innovative perspective as NATO and its transformation command shift from operational to contingency-based missions.

“I want the junior leaders already in uniform [to be immersed] in this future world of complex problem-solving and begin to develop skills they need to work in an ambiguous uncertain, complex, fast-paced [environment],” Bayer said.

As U.S. forces pivot to the Pacific during the simultaneous drawdown in Afghanistan, Bayer said, NATO priorities should adjust accordingly.

“When Afghanistan is over, we go from an operations-centric alliance to a contingency-based alliance, which means being ready for the next thing, but unsure what that thing might be,” he explained.

And NATO, he added, has played a large role in the United States being able to focus its attention on new challenges.

“The only reason the U.S. can think about shifting priorities and emphasis to the Pacific is because we have a secure flank, and it’s called NATO,” Bayer said. “NATO should see this as an opportunity, not a threat, [as] increasingly, centers of power are going to be in that part of the world -- less so on the traditional East-West axis.”

The general acknowledged the occasional challenges of consensus.

“It’s frustrating to have 28 [nations] trying to work on something, but there’s nothing more powerful than when we get to the point where 28 say, ‘Yep, that’s the answer we can live with,’ because now we’re speaking as one.”

After spending most of the last 20 years in operations since the advent of missions in the Balkans, Bayer said, it’s vital for NATO to update its training concept and revitalize its exercises program, the general said. “I could see the day where the security interests of the alliance will be challenged by some adversary who will employ information, influence, cyber and space,” he added.

The response from the alliance, Bayer said, would not necessarily require the alliance to use air, sea or land forces in the way it traditionally has.

“We’ve already forced [younger people] to operate very decentralized, and they’re ready for it, so we’ve got to figure out now how to get the institutions to catch up.”


Contact Author

Army Maj. Gen. Peter C. Bayer Jr.

Related Sites:
NATO Allied Command Transformation

Related Articles:
NATO Officials Host Young Professionals at Johns Hopkins

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