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CHIPS Articles: Q&A with Rear Adm. Kevin Scott

Q&A with Rear Adm. Kevin Scott
Selected for promotion to Vice Admiral and to take over as the new Joint Staff J7
By CHIPS Magazine - October-December 2015
Rear Admiral Kevin Scott currently serves as vice director, Joint Force Development, J7, Joint Staff in Suffolk, Virginia.

The mission of the J7 is to support the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) and the joint warfighter through joint force development (JFD) to advance the operational effectiveness of the current and future joint force.

J-7 performs its duties across the spectrum of joint force development by focusing on the following core functions: Joint Training & Exercising, Joint Education, Joint Doctrine, Joint Lessons Learned, and Joint Concepts.

Admiral Scott briefed at the Joint Warfighting Conference in May in Chesapeake, Virginia about national security threats, attracting, retaining and educating a diverse joint force, the Defense Department’s innovation strategy, and how the J7 supports the Secretary of Defense’s top three priorities of: safeguarding troops and their families, providing the president and national leadership with the best military advice and leading the way in innovation to develop game-changing technologies that will ensure America’s superior technology edge.

Rear Admiral Scott has been on the move since the announcement that he will be promoted to Vice Admiral and take over as the new Joint Staff J7 replacing U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser.

Scott responded to questions in writing in September on the eve of his departure.

Q: How would you describe the current threat environment?

A: We live in a very dynamic time and our country faces many challenges. We are dealing with an uncertain global security environment, rapid change, new and sophisticated threats and continued political turbulence. The less visible but very dangerous threats in the cyber and space realms are on the rise, not to mention the expanded small state and non-state actors who have access to new weapons. All this as we face tough budget decisions. It’s a complex environment.

Q: A good part of your brief was dedicated to developing the future force, for example, you said DoD must fund and develop leaders of consequence with competence and character. What are your recommendations?

A: The leaders of the future force must possess and display superb character as the stewards of our professional values. We are a Profession of Arms not simply because we say we are — our status as a profession is granted by those whom we are accountable to, our civilian authority, and the American people. To ensure the public's trust we have several initiatives that will help ensure our future leaders exhibit the proper morals and values expected of all of us.

Last year, we created a Joint Staff 360-degree evaluation for all General and Flag Officers on the Joint Staff, which we have recently expanded to all Combatant Command general and flag officers. The Joint Staff 360 is the only 360-degree evaluation in use today that solely focuses on ethics. Although leadership and competency are also measured, the focus of this tool is to enhance our ethics and professionalism. All of the services have a similar tool but this shows how seriously this is viewed within the highest ranks of our military.

Likewise, the [then] Chairman, General Dempsey, has published, and the Joint Staff has implemented, six Desired Leader Attributes, or DLAs, for our officers and enlisted corps. Over the past year, the National Defense University and the Services have incorporated the DLAs into their officer and enlisted professional military education curricula.

The Joint Staff J7 and the Special Assistant for Military Professionalism, Rear Adm. [Margaret DeLuca "Peg"] Klein, began an annual ethics conference with representatives from OSD (Office of the Secretary of Defense), the Joint Staff, and the services. This initiative brought together each of the Service's ethics centers to discuss ideas and share best practices. Additionally, the Joint Staff Inspector General has started staff assistance visits at each of the Combatant Commands to help them better understand ethics regulations and policy.

Q: You said the DoD must update the military education system and you discussed the joint professional military education (JPME) prototype and the expansion of wargames. Can you discuss how these will improve military training? Are there other initiatives to improve military education?

A: We have created a pilot program, the JPME II Non Resident Satellite Program, which allows us to take the Joint Combined Warfighting School to where the student is assigned, specifically at the Combatant Commands. This allows us to sustain broad joint learning across the force while tailoring aspects to the Combatant Command's specific area of responsibility. Additionally, we will seek to include JPME topics in distance learning in all of our service's war colleges. However, this will take a change in law which we are working to accomplish with Congressional support.

Q: In describing national security concerns, you mentioned that technology innovation and streamlining the acquisition process were areas ripe for improvement, can you discuss?

A: In the training domain we are focused on the application of technologic innovations, for example, to support the delivery of synthetic or computer-based training environments and to prepare data associated with provisioning the Joint Context. We must continue to evolve in order to support the development of warfighting knowledge, skills and abilities across the force in a dynamic operational environment. We are continuing to look at ways in which we might exploit the investments of the commercial sector to better store, reuse, and apply data associated with training and force development.

Q: You said that the Joint Staff's J7 are leaders in innovation. Can you provide some examples?

A: We are investigating the applicability of nascent capabilities such as Micro Services and Containers for use in the synthetic training environment. The concept of the Joint Live Virtual and Constructive federation of DoD modeling and simulation capabilities is by its nature innovative. Here we have multiple components — individually designed. Modeling and simulation is pulled together through the Object Modeling and Run Time data base to provide operational realism and real world command, control and communication stimulation that also supports warfighting skill development. We are also advocating the Common Data Base format as the standard for all training. J7 continues to apply the latest technologies to protect the training and education networks against malicious cyber actors.

Notably, last year we initiated Iron Crucible 2014 with the purpose of assessing the ability of the programmed Joint Force 2020 to execute globally integrated operations through global agility and flexible joint command. We’ve gained insights on how we project power across contested domains to deter and defeat aggression while responding to a crisis in a second region. These insights and the lessons learned about flexible and hybrid command and control arrangements will be taught at our JPME institutions.

Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, vice director, Joint Force Development, J7, Joint Staff. Scott will be promoted to Vice Admiral and take over as the new Joint Staff J7 replacing U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser.
Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, vice director, Joint Force Development, J7, Joint Staff. Scott will be promoted to Vice Admiral and take over as the new Joint Staff J7 replacing U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser
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