Members of today's industry panel at LandWarNet discussed many of the issues that have long been a source of consternation to military contractors including the need for a level playing field and better, more agile acquisition policies especially for information technology. However, one person added a slight twist to the discussion by stating that not only do many in government not understand the acquisition process and its difficulties, but industry does not do a good job educating them.
The U.S Army signal community is preparing for budget cuts and a drawdown of personnel that includes reducing the number of contractors supporting the military branch by 30 percent without any replacement by military or government employees. However, with the Army's current plan only the officer corps would face reduction through means other than attrition; more drastic cut mandates could alter future decisions.
Joint is the name of the game on the battlefield and at LandWarNet as Lt. Gen. William T. Lord, USAF, chief of warfighting integration and chief information officer for the U.S Air Force gave the final address of the conference this afternoon. The general said that he believes all future operations will be joint because the services are too small now to operate on their own. Everyone needs the synergy of the combined force to carry out their operations.
Policy and governance remain the biggest hurdles to interoperability among military services and their various allies and partners according to the joint/coalition panel held this morning at LandWarNet. Representatives from the British Armed Forces, U.S. Marine Corps, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) and the Office of the Secretary of Defense sat on a panel moderated by a U.S. Navy admiral from the joint staff to discuss the issues inherent in information sharing in coalition and disaster response missions. Throughout the discussion, panelists made jokes to amuse and engage the audience, but their message was deadly serious-information must be delivered to warfighters at the tactical edge so they can successfully, safely carry out their missions.
The feel and focus of LandWarNet took on a slightly different feel this afternoon as retired IBM Chief Executive Officer Louis V. Gerstner took the stage to discuss institutional transformation. Rather than address military-specific needs, Gerstner explained how he worked to turn around IBM by changing the entire culture of the organization. He told listeners to take the lessons he imparted and apply them as appropriate to military needs.
The Army needs to fix its acquisition process and move good ideas to top leaders according to Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, USA, vice chief of staff, U.S. Army. Gen. Chiarelli delivered the morning address of LandWarNet today via teleconference, stating that he wants the ideas people have to make things better. He also emphasized repeatedly the need to change acquisitions to keep up with technology changes and the enemy.