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Lt. Gen. Kearney Explains His Communications Frustrations

March 4, 2009
By Henry Kenyon

Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney III, USA, deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, shared frustrations he has with communications during a speech at TechNet Tampa, and told industry members how they can help. His first frustration is the lack of data exposure capabilities, which he illustrated by explaining the problems inherent in military medical records. The U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) use two different systems, making it impossible for the VA to access the active duty records of service members without someone bringing information in on a desk or on paper.

Gen. Kearney's second frustration is the inability for leaders to command and control from anywhere. Technology prevents decision makers from accessing the communications they need at any place, anytime. The third item on the general's list is the absence of a Global Sensor Network. In that, the general envisions a single network with redundant communications and a single workstation. This network will help make information on the ground more transparent  to operators.

The final two frustrations the general voiced are the need for permanent infrastructure in the U.S. Central Command area of operation and the impact of Web 2.0 on the military. The military should take better advantage of new media offerings, but security is still an obstacle. Gen. Kearney appealed to industry for assistance. "We're on the edge of change, but you have to help us," he said.  

Gen. Kearney said that industry partners can play an important role in improving military communications through their technical developments and through sharing knowledge they already possess with the military.

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