U.S. forces may be on the verge of a new era of connectivity, information sharing and individual empowerment-if immediate needs are addressed, both programmatically and technologically. That was the message delivered by Linda Newton, deputy chief of staff for C4I, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Newton outlined two scenarios-near future and distant future-in which effective networking and new information technologies empower individuals regardless of location.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2008
The people responsible for network centricity among their forces have a common item on their wish lists: a new network that addresses current shortcomings and accommodates new capabilities. Little details such as network management, language, security and seams are major impediments to maintaining network centricity, say J-6s from the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. Coast Guard's fight against minor maritime law violations may be a precursor to terrorism activities, according to one of its district commanders. Rear Adm. Manson K. Brown, USCG, commander, 14th Coast Guard District, described how fishing violations in U.S. exclusive economic zones may be laying the groundwork for terrorist actions in the same manner that piracy and terrorism have become linked.
Military recruitment and retention rates are steadily being met, but cracks are beginning to appear in the personnel infrastructure. A panel of senior enlisted leaders both lauded the quality and motivation of their enlisted personnel and warned against the possibility of losing large numbers of them in the near future.
|Maj. Gen. Mike Hostage III, vice commander, Pacific Air Forces|
The U.S. Pacific Air Forces are rolling out new technologies and capabilities to government and industry partners while seeking to consolidate for efficiencies. But, its vice commander bemoans continuing cultural and technological hurdles to effective network centricity.
All the advances in network centricity are creating greater problems that threaten to undo the advantages wrought by network-centric operations, noted several panelists discussing support to the warfighter. Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN, J-6, the Joint Staff, put it bluntly: "We say we fight joint, but our network is absolutely not joint."
Being joint is not sufficient for military operations in the 21st century, say leaders of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. Col. Scott Blankenship, USMC, the G-6 for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, said that the complex environment of the 21st century requires new cooperative security concepts.
Civil government and the military must work together if the United States is to achieve its strategic aims in the Pacific, said a panel of civil government and military experts. And, meeting those strategic goals increasingly is a matter of "soft power challenges" that involve the military in decidedly non-military actions.
While other commanders speak of esoteric needs, the head of the U.S. Army, Pacific cites both technological and cultural expertise as the key to mission success. Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon, USA, commander, U.S. Army, Pacific, is calling for specific new technologies to help his force meet its dynamic mission requirements.
The biggest challenge in securing and operating networks efficiently may be to understand them-which currently is not taking place, said Lt. Gen. Douglas M. Fraser, USAF, deputy commander, U.S. Pacific Command. Leading off the first full day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2008, Gen. Fraser offered observations about network operations and security that tended to be more philosophical than technical.
Intelligence officers in the Pacific theater have seen the future, and it is commercial. That was a point driven home by the opening panel in TechNet Asia-Pacific 2008, now under way in Honolulu, Hawaii. The J-2 panel focused on intelligence challenges, and panelists cited the need for commercial technologies and capabilities to fulfill intelligence sharing needs across diverse coalitions and partnerships.
The next event we will feature here on SIGNAL Scape will be TechNet Asia-Pacific, Nov. 3-6 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu, Hawaii. SIGNAL Editor-in-Chief Robert K. Ackerman will be sending us updates as things break from the conference.