Networking gives allied troops the advantage, but challenges persist.
Leaders from each of the armed forces make presentations during the J-6 panel session at TechNet International 2004. Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, USA (at podium), U.S. Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6, speaks about various programs that will improve communications on the battlefield. Panelists include (l-r) Mark Mohler, acting deputy director for command, control, communications and computers (C4) integration and policy, and deputy CIO for the U.S. Navy; Debra Filippi, deputy director C4/deputy CIO, U.S. Marine Corps; Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC, J-6; Maj. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., USAF, director for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) infostructure, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Warfighting Integration; and Capt. Ron Hewitt, USCG, deputy, assistant commandant for C4 and information technology, U.S. Coast Guard.
Information technology is the key differentiator in operations in southwest Asia and the global war on terrorism, according to military leaders who spoke at TechNet International 2004. Each shared his or her individual perspective on how information systems are transforming the way the military is fighting today and will fight in the future. Speakers included key U.S. Defense Department and information technology leaders from each of the armed forces as well as the joint community.
A J-6 panel discussion kicked off AFCEA’s 58th annual convention and exposition event, which took place May 11-13 at the Washington, D.C., Convention Center. Lt. Gen. Robert M. Shea, USMC, J-6, the Joint Staff, moderated the session, which focused on TechNet’s theme, “Combating Emerging Threats.” He emphasized five key points: Networks link the world but also help adversaries; collaboration and shared information are key force multipliers; the network is the center of gravity and will be attacked; new concepts must be encouraged through simulation, training and war gaming; and the military must empower all of its people—not just the command, control, communications and computers (C4) community—with education.
Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, USA, U.S. Army chief information officer (CIO)/G-6, offered that the Global Information Grid–Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE) program is vital to Army C4 efforts. Standard Tactical Entry Point, teleports and Global Broadcast System sites are the building blocks to the architecture, and these efforts will increase the capacity of the fixed infrastructure. Despite successes in Iraq, the operation revealed some shortcomings.
Discussing “a network in the sky” featuring shared data, Internet protocol (IP)-based routing and assured service was Maj. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., USAF, director for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) infostructure, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Warfighting Integration. Every platform becomes a sensor or a router moving information across the network. This will provide instantaneous, time-sensitive targeting through a single network linking ground, air and space. The general cited the need for satellites to provide beyond-line-of-sight links.
Mark Mohler, acting deputy director for C4 integration and policy, and deputy CIO for the U.S. Navy, discussed how the Navy’s FORCEnet program is changing the service. One challenging aspect is that the Navy must maintain its legacy networks while transitioning, he noted.
Debra Filippi, deputy director C4/deputy CIO, U.S. Marine Corps, explained how, through information technologies, sea basing will provide force advantages. The Iraq War highlighted challenges, such as considerable limitations on over-the-horizon C4 capabilities and the inability to provide data to lower echelons.
Filippi noted the importance of computer network defense. Last year saw 146 million attempts to access defense computer networks, and 57 million of those were filtered down for analyst review. All told, only 20 such incidents were successful—17 at the user level, two denial of service incidents and one at the root/administration level. This works out to a 99.99996 percent success rate in defending networks, she pointed out.
Capt. Ron Hewitt, USCG, deputy, assistant commandant for C4 and information technology, U.S. Coast Guard, described how the Deepwater project will incorporate fundamental changes in Coast Guard equipment and functions. Observing that the Coast Guard must communicate and exchange information with the homeland security community, the military, and the search and rescue community, the captain explained that satellite communications will play a bigger role in the Coast Guard’s future.
Tuesday’s luncheon featured a presentation by Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, who shared what he called “the 30,000-foot view” of the role information technology is playing in current operations. Referring to command and control as the U.S. military’s greatest assets, Gen. Myers said he believes that the term C4ISR no longer adequately describes the power technology brings to the battlespace. Proposing that the term C4 battlespace awareness more accurately represents the effects of networking, the general said that the military’s technical capabilities are turning information into action.
Gen. Myers emphasized that the United States and its allies cannot afford to underestimate the dangers asymmetric enemies pose. However, he added that technology is the U.S. military’s asymmetric advantage because it is the link that ties together the armed forces’ assets of people, weapons and strategies. When information from agencies and the services is integrated, it allows diverse organizations to act as one. “Command and control is the glue that holds us together and the caulk that fills in the gaps,” he stated.
Gen. Myers admitted that, despite all of the benefits of information technology, problems still exist. Among the technologies that require improvement are combat identification capabilities, intelligence gathering and sharing techniques, and common operational picture systems.
The U.S. military is moving from joint warfighting to integrated warfare, he said. “For most of us, this is a new way of thinking, but we have to get away from stovepipes in organizations,” he stated. The armed forces as well as the commercial sector must think horizontally in terms of responsibilities and tasks. This is especially true in sharing information where specific organizations or individuals decide who else sees what information and in which format.
Gen. Myers emphasized that the key to successful operations in the war on terrorism as well as to effective homeland security and defense will be the ability to share information quickly, and one goal is to take all the battlespace awareness assets and make them work together automatically.
Gen. Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Central Command, opened TechNet 2004’s Wednesday events. The general talked about the tremendous leaps that have occurred in technology since he served in Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, many of the communications technologies had to be jury-rigged to provide adequate communications. As the combatant commander during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, he watched missions unfold on 16 flat panel screens in the command center.
The general said that when he testified before the 9/11 Commission, he told panel members that many incidents—including the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut and the first World Trade Center bombing—indicated that the United States was in danger of being attacked, and the government should have been attuned to the clues. In addition, he cited partisan politics that held up the confirmation of several key U.S. Defense Department officials in early 2001 as an issue the commission should consider as it attempts to determine how the United States could have been better prepared.
Gen. Franks said the administration identified Afghanistan, a terrorist-sponsored state, as the responsible party immediately following the attacks. Within days of the attacks, he and his staff began developing plans to go into Afghanistan and remove Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Acknowledging that conflict still exists in Afghanistan, the general praised the work the military did there and said the next terrorist attack on the United States will not be led by people based in that country.
Operations in southwest Asia were not without problems, Gen. Franks allowed. He specified a shortage in bandwidth as one of the biggest challenges. While troops were device-rich, they were bandwidth-poor, he said.
The Thursday session began with a breakfast speech by Michael Wynne, acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, Defense Department. Wynne highlighted how network-centric technologies are enabling the U.S. military to move toward more rapid, expeditionary-style operations and warfare. These changes will lead to a smaller force that is more agile with a smaller logistics footprint.
Wynne challenged the contractors in the audience to help speed network-centric systems into service. He questioned why it is not possible to develop an appliqué to update legacy systems rather than waiting until 2018 for new equipment. He added that the services need a joint plug-and-play system that enables equipment to be connected into joint force modules quickly. Bringing coalition forces into a future networked common operating picture is another requirement the United States faces.
Coalition forces operating in littoral waters also could use new technologies to help defend against attackers using small boats. Noting that littoral areas are finite, Wynne described a technique called metrification that lays down a grid of sensors to monitor shipping traffic. He added that in international waters, radio frequency identification tagging systems could be used to track ships leaving and entering a region.
Coordination is even more important for logistics than at the tip of the spear, Wynne said. Capabilities such as sense and respond logistics will allow forces to be flexibly supported, he added, but asked why just-in-time logistics is now common in the commercial sector but not in the military.
Future warfighters will rely on “trusted warfare,” what Wynne referred to as timely logistics support and the ability to safely request fire support from any nearby unit. These technologies require a variety of networked sensors and platforms scattered throughout the theater of operations. But to achieve this objective, the military must move to a common systems approach.
Wynne cautioned that while many of these technologies will soon be in use, they are not quite ready, and much work remains before they can be used operationally. “This is all ‘says’ easy, and ‘does’ hard,” he said.
Thursday’s luncheon speaker, Lt. Gen. Edward G. Anderson III, USA, deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM), and vice commander, U.S. element, North American Aerospace Defense Command, outlined recent developments at NORTHCOM. The general began his speech by noting that the country is at war and that vigilance is necessary because the enemy is patient. “Time is of no consequence to them. Success is their key, and they will wait for a weakness,” he warned.
Citing NORTHCOM’s unique region of responsibility, the general noted that the command has to work with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and governments. A new regional force also has been activated called the Joint Force Headquarters, National Capitol Region. It is designed to unify the various military forces in the area.
Gen. Anderson observed that although NORTHCOM does not have many forces under its direct control, the command can request additional units for different missions. He added that in matters of homeland defense, there are three levels of emergency: extraordinary circumstances, emergency circumstances and temporary circumstances.
But to fully protect the United States, its defense must extend to all of North America. The general noted that the United States is negotiating with Canada and Mexico to possibly include them in a unified North American defense command. A binational planning group already has been established with Canada. Gen. Anderson expects that this independent organization will become a part of the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The general added that one task of the command is to reorganize security for the nation’s borders to cover other law enforcement groups and meet homeland security requirements. He noted that in 2003, 400 tons of illegal drugs entered the United States. If these drugs could enter the country, what about weapons of mass destruction, he asked.
Leaders at NORTHCOM have thought about this issue and are working with the DHS to launch a series of national level exercises focusing on weapons of mass destruction, he offered. These events would alternate between Top Off, which will be run by the DHS, and Ardent Sentry, which NORTHCOM will administer. Every year, the command also will conduct another exercise called Vigilant Shield. This will be a six-day event with multiple federal, state and local governments and agencies.
|Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF, is chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.|
|Gen. Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.), is the former commander of the U.S. Central Command.|
|Michael Wynne, is acting undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, U.S. Defense Department.|
|Lt. Gen. Edward G. Anderson III, USA, is the deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command.|