I am certain that every successful military leader in our nation's history would say that people constitute the armed services' most value asset; and perhaps at no other time in history has that been truer. In operations around the world, the United States is relying on fewer people-both military and civilian-to do more with less. This is a spot-on description of service members, government workers, corporate personnel and law enforcement agents alike who are keeping our country safe or responding to those in need after disasters. And sometimes, in the middle of all the hype about technology, we lose sight of the fact that it is human-ware, if you will, that is the centerpiece of every successful operation.
Back in 1946 when AFCEA and SIGNAL Magazine were new, the number-one technology problem vexing military planners was to provide mobile communications to the warfighter. Now, 60 years later, we face exactly the same challenge. Even though all of the other factors of warfare have changed, that problem still persists.
I am concerned-despite the discussions that take place in favor of information sharing, information security, network-centric operations and communications support to the warfighter-that the U.S. military remains a platform-centric force. That same case may be made for many NATO and other allied nations. Military leaders throughout the Free World continue to focus their discussions on tanks, ships and aircraft. These warfighting platforms are important big-ticket items that have a key role in warfare. But, to move from our industrial-age mindset to today's information age, I suggest that virtually every platform planning session include a discussion on how that platform fits into the warfighting network.
The U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review and the fiscal year 2007 defense budget submission were noteworthy for their focus on special operations forces. Both documents called for increased emphasis on small, highly trained, mobile units in the ongoing global war on terrorism. Our success in ridding Afghanistan of its Taliban rulers showed how effective coalition special forces can be in the shadowy war against terrorists.
The military is on the cusp of a new generation of sensor advances. Signal processing and detection technologies are uniting to provide better information and understanding than ever before. Combine that development with the global network being extended to the warfighter and you have the potential for the greatest situational awareness picture ever envisioned by a military planner.
Last summer's Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) change of command was bittersweet for the information technology community, as we said farewell to one friend and welcome aboard to another. It also was a reflection of how blessed our nation is that as we make changes at the highest levels in our armed forces and their agencies, we continue to provide superb leadership and management. Even when styles and methods are different, the change almost always turns out to be healthy.
The headline-driven controversy over the PATRIOT Act tends to obscure many of the key issues that buttress this important element in the war on terrorism. The Free World is facing an unyielding enemy that is using every aspect of Western society-from its liberties and protections to its technological infrastructure-to suit its twisted ideology that lauds mass murder of innocents. The United States faces a difficult task in that it must adjust its institutions and its way of life to prevent further mass casualties, but it must do so without destroying the very foundation of our 230-year-old society.
This year, AFCEA International marks its 60th anniversary. As with other successful organizations, the key to AFCEA's future lies in its members. Our corporate, government and military members do more than just define the association; they also serve as the focal point of our activities, which are entering a new phase in the association's storied saga.
From its start as an adjunct to warfighting to its expanded role in all forms of military activities, the discipline of information operations has steadily increased in importance to the modern force. The concept has grown in size and scope, and it now finds itself occupying an important seat at the table of force projection. Yet this evolution did not come about without difficulty, and challenges still remain before the true effectiveness of information operations can be realized.
The recent disasters caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast of the United States laid bare many long-overlooked facts. Among them is the importance of local communications interoperability. From individuals at home to emergency responders operating on a national scale, communications connectivity is vital during a crisis. The communications shortcomings experienced during that series of disasters contributed to the difficulties faced by the populace.
Changes are taking place in the world of intelligence. The creation of the new position of director of national intelligence, or DNI, illustrates how the U.S. government views
The U.S. decision to reduce the number of its forces in Europe has increased the need for interoperable systems among the militaries of the Continent. For decades European
There should be no debate over the need for effective information security in the information revolution. As digital information becomes more vital with the growth of cyberspace, securing it increases in importance. However, even with broad public awareness of the need for cybersecurity, the infosphere is faced with a serious challenge that is multifaceted and that defies easy solution.
A little more than a month ago, the United States observed Memorial Day, during which it remembered the men and women who have given their lives in support of freedom. Many other AFCEA-chaptered countries celebrate the equivalent of Remembrance Day, Armistice Day or Veterans Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, commemorating the coming of peace in Europe after World War I and honoring those who have given their lives for freedom or another noble cause. Here in San Diego at Camp Pendleton, Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, USMC, commanding general, 1st Marine Division, was the keynote speaker for Memorial Day services held May 30, 2005, at Camp Pendleton. He paid tribute to the 420 U.S. Marines who have died in the past 365 days of the global war on terrorism. Quoting George Orwell, he said, "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."
When people look at the ongoing force transformation, they probably see investments in technology changing the way that the military services are equipped. The goal is for the military to be better prepared to fight the nation's wars in the foreseeable future. This visage might translate to lighter, more agile forces; a more ground-centric military; or more automated and unmanned platforms-depending on the viewer's perspective.
This year will mark a watershed event for AFCEA International; one that we think will be very beneficial to all of our constituencies: government, military, industry and academia.
As Alvin Toffler predicted almost 30 years ago, society is transitioning from its second wave, the industrial revolution, to the third wave, the information age. All three waves, beginning with the agrarian age, offered their own elements of control that proved vital to prevailing economically and politically. In the first wave, the objective in the agrarian society was to control the land from which life-giving food would be harvested. In the industrial second wave, the objective was to control the means of production. Now, in the information age, the objective is to control the information technology.
Just one year after the Defense Department launched its Defense Reform Initiative, information technology is proving to be a vital player in this effort to bring the department into the next millennium. The U.S. military's increasing reliance on information systems for operations and support has opened the door for the commercial sector both to enable change and to benefit from it.
The network-centric Free World is placing a greater emphasis on intelligence than ever before-both for battlespace military operations and for winning the war on terrorism. However, while much attention has been focused on intelligence collection, processing and dissemination, it is knowledge management that will win or lose conflicts in the future.
This month, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) celebrates its 50th anniversary. In addition to preserving peace and freedom for members on three continents, NATO's strength and resolve contributed to the collapse and dissolution of its adversary. With the alliance's original task accomplished, NATO now stands on the cusp of a new era where its primary mission can be to extend freedom to those long denied.