The recent humanitarian assistance/disaster response (HA/DR) effort in the wake of the Philippine typhoon demonstrated new capabilities and vulnerabilities for the broad networking necessary for successful operations. Information was shared to a degree greater than at previous emergencies, but this opened the door to potential information assurance problems.
TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 1
Quote of the Day:
"If you allow the United States to operate out of sanctuary, we will beat the crap out of you." - Lt. Gen. Stanley T. Kresge, USAF, vice commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, addressing potential adversaries.
The recent U.S. strategic pivot toward the Pacific has placed that region at the forefront of change in the military. Where in the recent past activities in the area of responsibility (AOR) for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) defined military needs, now the requirements for the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) are emerging as the leading edge of the defense technology sword.
Years of exercises between the Philippine and U.S. militaries helped both countries work together in the massive rescue effort after the Asian nation was devastated recently by a typhoon. The U.S. effort, designated Operation Damayan, featured effective coordination amid a sterling execution by the Philippine military, according to U.S. military officers.
At TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s discussed how those rescue efforts came together. Col. James Dillon, USMC, the assistant chief of staff for G-6, Marine Forces Pacific, noted that when the disaster struck, personal relationships already existed, and both sides could leverage that.
U.S. Pacific Command military leaders agree that any future operation will be conducted amid a coalition, and partner countries must be networked. However, that networking opens the possibility for greatly increased network vulnerabilities as less-secure nations provide weak links for network security.
This vital issue was discussed by a panel featuring the U.S. Pacific Command’s -6s at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Col. Michael Finn II, USAF, director of communications and chief information officer, headquarters, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, noted, “all of our partners are hungry for this [cyber] domain.” Japan and South Korea in particular are primary information sharing partners.
North Korea’s growing missile and nuclear capabilities “keep us awake at night,” according to the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, warned that the communist government’s recent developments pose a much greater threat to peace and security than traditionally offered.
U.S. forces may be over relying on cyber to meet challenges in the Asia-Pacific region at a time when potential adversaries view it as a key to disrupting U.S. operations, according to the top leaders of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, deputy commander of PACOM, offered that U.S. forces must expect to operate without at least some of their cyber assets in a time of conflict.
Any future U.S. military network architecture must accommodate allies, or it will not work for the vast Asia-Pacific region. Operations from humanitarian aid to military conflict will involve partners, and their effective participation will depend on access to U.S. networks.
That point was driven home by the deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, told the audience at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii, “We cannot do anything with our networks without the coalition built into our processes.”
The U.S. Pacific Command needs effective intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to address its increasing mission activities, according to the command’s deputy commander. Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, USMC, was blunt in his assessment to the audience at the opening breakfast at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii.
“We need ISR,” the general declared. “We have a paucity of ISR in this theater.”
He noted that when the command lacks the needed ISR, it must use general purpose forces to collect data. “We have DDGs [guided missile destroyers] steaming around serving that role,” he related.
Two pictures have taken up residence in my mind over the past few weeks. They highlight the growing disconnect between the U.S. Defense Department and the broader strategic environment—not just in terms of geopolitics but also in the way the rest of the world lives, works and interacts.
The first image captures how the Defense Department views the world. It is a simple map with neat lines delineating the different joint combatant commands. While the boundaries make sense in a conventional way, they are drawn merely for geographic convenience. Implicitly, those lines preclude interaction between constituent elements.
A new destroyer being deployed by China offers improvements in technology that rival those of the newest destroyers being built for the U.S. Navy. Its advances include phased array radars and improved missiles and launch systems. With room to grow, this ship seems destined to play a significant role in naval operations.
Known as the 052D, the destroyer represents the culmination of technology development among People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) destroyers. It likely will be prominent in future PLAN carrier group operations.
It has been less than two years since the president and the secretary of defense released the latest strategic defense guidance, titled, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” A key tenet of this guidance was a strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region. This guidance acknowledged the ongoing threat in the Middle East and South Asia, but it also postulated that the threat capability had been reduced there. It also made the case that, “U.S. economic and security interests are inextricably linked to developments in the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean region and South Asia, creating a mix of evolving challenges and opportunities”—hence the rebalance.
The U.S. Pacific Command intelligence community is fostering an increased dialogue between China and other nations with interests in the Pacific Rim. The expanded effort is designed to build trust, avoid misunderstandings and improve cooperation in areas where China’s national interests converge with the national interests of the United States and others.
Legacy communications are underpinning new capabilities as the U.S. Army Pacific works to upgrade its systems before obsolescence defeats innovation. The new technologies and systems that will define U.S. military networking are beginning to reach across the Defense Department’s largest theater of operations. Yet, budgetary constraints are hindering implementation of new capabilities, and the existing systems that form the foundation of theater networking badly need upgrades before they begin to give out.
People, not technology, are still the greatest advantages or inhibitors in the world of military interoperability. For NATO, bringing together the right humans has enabled amazing advancements during the last five years, but it has also caused confrontations delaying momentum in certain cases.
The signal brigade in charge of U.S. Army communications in the Republic of Korea is incorporating new technologies and capabilities with one eye on ensuring success and the other eye on the hostile neighbor to the north. System improvements such as the advanced Warfighter Information Network-Tactical, voice over Internet protocol and a Korean theater version of the Joint Information Environment are designed to give allied forces a significant edge should war break out.
Cooperation and conflict define the new strategy guiding U.S. Pacific Air Forces as the air element of the U.S. Pacific Command adjusts to the strategic pivot to that vast region. The former aspect includes efforts with many regional allies as well as closer activities with the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, the latter element entails power projection to be able to respond to crises whenever they emerge, including those over water.
Biometrics is on the verge of becoming more pervasive than ever in everyday life, setting the stage for personal identifiers to take the place of other common security measures. The expansion mirrors increased usage in fields such as military operations, citizen enrollment and public safety.
China’s activities in space have caught the attention of U.S. and other countries’ officials, altering how personnel must consider the domain. The importance of the area outside of Earth to military operations makes the location critical for any nation looking to put itself into a terrestrial position of power. During 2012, China conducted 18 space launches and upgraded various constellations for purposes such as communications and navigation. China’s recent expansion into the realm presents new concerns for civilian programs and defense assets there.
NATO officials are laying the groundwork for a centralized enterprise networking architecture with invitations to bid expected to be released by year’s end. The new approach is expected to offer a number of benefits, including cost savings, improved network reliability, enhanced cybersecurity and greater flexibility for warfighters.
The economic and technological challenges facing Western militaries are magnified for Portugal as it tries to ensure the viability of its navy. The small maritime nation that regularly participates in NATO naval operations is facing severe budgetary constraints as its domestic economy contracts, but it must improve and even increase its capabilities as a result of a growing mission set.