Which emerging technology will have the biggest impact on your organization in the future?
As director of the Command, Control, Communication and Computer Systems Directorate at U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM), the question of which technology will most impact this command is not easily answered. In our network-centric, global-reaching environment, technology will be the fulcrum around which success or failure will pivot. The level of measured success for the warfighter will depend directly on how evolving technologies are used to enable JFCOM’s role within of the U.S. Defense Department as an organization where the military services, combatant commands, multinational partners, industry and other governmental agencies rely on each other in a truly interdependent relationship.
From the beginning of data networking, networks have been stitched together in an ad hoc fashion, growing more out of immediate necessity than out of the disciplined engineering and planning that was the hallmark of the telephone system. The nonsecure Internet protocol router network (NIPRNET), secret Internet protocol router network (SIPRNET), Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System (CENTRIXS), Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS), Globally Reaching Interactive Fully Functional Information Network (GRIFFIN) and Combined Federated Battle Laboratory Network (CFBLNet) are just some examples of networks warfighters use daily that have minimal ability to interface smoothly and seamlessly with each other. National security and disclosure policies and directives place hurdles in the way of the seamless movement of data and communications. However, outdated technologies, protocols and processes are just as responsible because they require human interaction in the integrative process.
Enabling an environment where networks and communities of interest are integrated and interdependent represents the technological breakthrough that will have a direct and lasting impact for the command and the warfighter. To that end, two notable efforts have been initiated at JFCOM. Command and Control on the Move (C2OTM) and the Joint Intelligence Operations Capability (JIOC) have emerged as tools that will provide an immediate benefit to the warfighter as well as will use emerging technologies to enable greater warfighting capabilities.
In January 2005, the U.S. Army V Corps, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, asked JFCOM to develop a capability that could provide broadband, Internet protocol-based, on-the-move communications to support two tactical vehicles deploying into the U.S. Central Command’s area of operations as part of V Corps’ rapidly deployable Assault Command Post concept. In response, JFCOM’s subordinate command, the Joint Systems Integration Command, developed an operational prototype that closed the existing capability gap and that will provide the tactical field commander with a mobile command and control (C2) capability similar to the level of C2 support at a stationary command post.
C2OTM allows the user to tie back into the Global Information Grid and traditional NIPRNET, SIPRNET and CENTRIXS networks while also offering the familiar set of collaboration and common operational picture tools such as InfoWorkSpace and Command and Control Personal Computer that previously were available only at fixed locations. Users also can place secure telephone calls while on the move to any secure telephone within the Defense Department and can remain connected to all their information sources via a laptop using secure wireless technology despite being away from the vehicle.
The JIOC will greatly enhance the intelligence capabilities of the warfighter. It integrates many efforts to adapt intelligence technologies and processes for a human intelligence environment, where the enemy can quickly adapt to changes in strategy and tactics.
Many sensors are stovepiped, and the information collected is sometimes not shared with the department’s intelligence community. The JIOC effort will accelerate the fielding of proven technologies from Distributed Common Ground Station programs allowing all intelligence analysts to access near-real-time data from tactical, theater and national sensors. JFCOM is leading the JIOC tactics, techniques and procedures effort to incorporate supporting systems and processes from all services and the Defense Department’s intelligence community.
These programs are just two examples of JFCOM’s ability to adapt emerging technology to facilitate the distribution of critical information to the joint warfighter. JFCOM will continue to do this by partnering with the Defense Department, the Joint Staff, combatant commands, military services, multinational partners, other government agencies and industry to tackle the obstacles that stand in the way of integrating technology to achieve a true net-centric operational environment and to move us into a coherently interdependent state.