Periodically, we ask the senior leadership of the global security community to give us feedback on their top priorities in the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and information technology domains. In the past couple of years, they have been fairly consistent in saying that their top priority is interagency and coalition information sharing.
We all know the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as the keeper of enterprise networks for the defense community. We know DISA as the agency cognizant of many of the U.S. Defense Department’s key joint enterprise applications. But we also know that in recent years, DISA’s role in network centricity has grown.
In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Act mandated jointness in the Defense Department. This affected training, doctrine, personnel management and assignments, force structure and operations. Joint operations and a joint approach to command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) have become fundamental to the way we fight.
We all know the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as the agency that grew out of its predecessor—the Defense Communications Agency (DCA)—to manage a full range of information technology systems and services for the Defense Department. But more than a name change took place since that transition. The DISA of today bears little resemblance to the organization that took on this expanded mission.
Web 2.0. Web 3.0. Webinars. Podcasts. Blogs. RSS feeds. Virtual environments. Social networking. This is the language of today’s Internet. It has not been the language of AFCEA, but that is changing. Our younger members are very comfortable in this environment. The rest of us in government and industry are trying to catch up and learn how to apply these technologies and this culture to our work. AFCEA is moving to help.
A number of you in government and industry have told us that AFCEA should provide smaller, more interactive forums focused on critical issues. We have listened and created a new series of events called Solutions. You should have begun to see some communications regarding these new events. I think the introduction of this new series of forums is such a critical milestone for AFCEA and such an opportunity for our membership that I should explain why this series of events is fundamentally different from anything we have done before.
As AFCEA enters its 62nd year, I am pleased to report that the association has never had a stronger program of services nor been sounder financially. We have been listening to our stakeholders and are responding with a new set of offerings that will be important to every member.
In an era in which commercial research and development dominates scientific progress, government research is important—particularly for the military. It is research in critical technologies that allows our national security structure to maintain the edge—to differentiate the United States from potential adversaries. This enables force projection, allows us to work more effectively with our coalition partners, and maximizes our force effectiveness while minimizing loss of life for the United States.