Forum Brings Critical Security Needs Into Focus

April 2003
By Maryann Lawlor
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Convention integrates information and technology to meet homeland defense requirements.

Today’s challenges call for cooperation and collaboration among the various agencies charged with ensuring homeland security. Information technology systems will be the conduit through which critical data will be shared, and senior government leaders are looking for solutions in several areas, including information security, maritime monitoring and interagency collaboration. TechNet International 2003 will showcase these capabilities and provide a forum for discussion about future requirements.

The convention, which takes place May 6-8 at the new Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C., will be a confluence of professional development opportunities. Representatives from the military, government and industry will discuss challenges and solutions. Although a primary focus will be on the multitude of technologies that will support the homeland security mission, organizers of this year’s event describe it as “more than a trade show.”

TechNet 2003 will take a holistic approach to homeland security issues. Top-level military and government decision makers will present overviews of the roles their organizations will play in homeland defense. Panels will focus on specific aspects of homeland security and be led by program leaders who will share specific current requirements and anticipated future needs. Mini-courses, organized and presented by AFCEA’s Professional Development Center, will offer attendees a sample of the full-length courses that take place throughout the year. And the Solutions Showcase will give convention participants the opportunity to learn about current technology products.

Lt. Gen. John A. Dubia, USA (Ret.), vice president for operations, AFCEA International, and one of several coordinators of TechNet 2003, explains that this year’s event ties together the various elements of national security. “The panels have been designed to be an integral part of the technologies that are available for viewing and testing in the Solutions Showcase. These technologies supplement the information about overall objectives that attendees will hear about from senior military leaders,” he offers.

In many ways, TechNet 2003 is the end result of an evolution of lessons learned from AFCEA events that have taken place since the terrorist attacks, Gen. Dubia says. Last year’s conference, which took place in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, examined the immediate homeland security issues that needed to be addressed. Since that time, AFCEA has woven homeland security topics into local, national and international events, and TechNet 2003 is, in part, the culmination of insights that have been gleaned and requirements that have been identified during those conferences, he says.

“In organizing this year’s TechNet, we took a look at how far we as a nation and an international community have come since the immediate shock of 9/11. Just a few months after the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, we are examining what homeland security means and looking at the requirements. TechNet 2003 brings together government, industry and academia to focus on the technologies that are now available and some of the new processes and products that have developed during the past year,” Gen. Dubia offers.

This year’s event also will bring together agencies and communities that have not collaborated or shared information about challenges in the past. “It will be a good place for cross talk among representatives from the federal, state, local and international communities. Homeland security requires that these people, who have not traditionally worked together, solve common problems or work on individual aspects of problems. The convention gives them a place to connect,” the general says.

Panel discussions and technology demonstrations have been arranged based on input from top-level personnel from leading military commands, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, combatant commands and intelligence agencies. Gen. Dubia relates that senior leaders identified more than 100 information technology requirements—exceeding any year in AFCEA’s history.

The group identified several requirement categories based on current and anticipated operations. Information exchange and protection, interoperability and content management were among the topics these leaders pointed to as critical areas of interest.

Under the heading of information exchange, senior government officials emphasized the need for systems that are inherently collaborative. Current operations require that these tools be invisible and omnipresent.

Bringing the power of information to bear in homeland security missions requires that data be derived from various sources then merged into a single knowledge picture. Data fusion and management technologies can help accomplish this task and support operations from intelligence gathering to shipment tracking.

Relying on information requires techniques and technologies that ensure communications equipment reliability as well as accuracy of content. To this end, government leaders agreed that robust networks and information security technologies are key to homeland security efforts.

Gen. Dubia points out that, although homeland security efforts seem to be focused primarily in the United States, the issue of security is a worldwide  concern and requires an international approach. “This is not just a U.S. issue. It is a Free World issue,” he states.

Many of the discussions and presentations that will take place at TechNet 2003 will involve participation from U.S. allies and NATO nations, the general says. Nations that have dealt with terrorism for decades can offer valuable insight about solution sets and approaches that U.S. government personnel and industry professionals need to hear, he adds.

“On the industry side, things are not as clear-cut as they used to be. Companies may have their headquarters in Germany or Italy or Japan, but they have numerous offices in the United States. At the same time, businesses with headquarters in the United States have a considerable presence in various nations around the globe.

“International dependence also pervades homeland security and defense equipment. Today, there are very few systems—from computers to weapons systems—that do not include elements manufactured by a variety of companies located in several countries,” Gen. Dubia offers.

This kind of interdependence makes events such as TechNet even more critical, he says. “First, top government leaders can tell industry what their organizations need today and will need in the future. Second, multinational companies can see how they may be able to collaborate with other large firms. Third, small firms with niche products can demonstrate their capabilities that meet specific needs and at the same time network with other small businesses that may be a good match to offer the government a total solution. Finally, all of this can take place in an atmosphere that is charged with the information that program leaders have just shared during panel sessions and speeches,” he says.

As in past years, each day of the conference will begin with a presentation during the Four Star Breakfast Series. Tuesday, Gen. Paul Kern, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Materiel Command, will be the featured speaker. On Wednesday, Gen. William Nyland, USMC, assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, will speak about technology needs of the sea services. Gen. Robert H. Foglesong, USAF, vice chief of staff, U.S. Air Force, will share his insights during Thursday’s breakfast.

The J-6 Worldwide Conference will take place concurrently with TechNet 2003, and Wednesday’s lunch will feature a J-6 representative from each of the services who will participate in a panel discussion. Lt. Gen. Joseph K. Kellogg Jr., USA, J-6, the Joint Staff, will moderate the panel.

Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., USN, commander, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), will be the featured speaker at Thursday’s luncheon. As part of the U.S. Defense Department’s effort to transform the military, U.S. Space Command and STRATCOM merged in October 2002. STRATCOM is responsible for early warning and defense against missile attacks as well as long-range strategic attacks. As a result, Adm. Ellis is the sole commander responsible for planning, targeting and wartime employment of strategic forces.

Four panel sessions will take place during the three-day event. Panelists will be a combination of representatives from government and industry. AFCEA’s Technical Committee, which comprises approximately 40 senior government and industry leaders, determined the topics of the sessions. The general points out that panel themes illustrate how requirements and processes have evolved during the past year.

The Tuesday afternoon panel, Emergency/Consequence Management Systems in a Multi-Agency Environment, will delve into the need for integrated and interoperable systems, policies, procedures and organizational links. Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., USAF, director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), is scheduled to moderate this panel discussion.

Information sharing will be the topic of two panel sessions on Wednesday. Dr. Mark M. Lowenthal, vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council and assistant director of central intelligence for analysis and production, Central Intelligence Agency, will lead the Intelligence and Homeland Security: Transcending Federal, State and Local Boundaries panel in the morning. On Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Alan Harbitter, chief technology officer, PEC Solutions Incorporated, will moderate the Information Technology Support to Interagency Coordination panel.

On Thursday morning, Government and Industry Organizational Structure for Homeland Security pan elists will discuss the current structures, evolution of organizations, requirements management, collaboration and supporting technologies of government agency reorganization and industry partnerships. Maj. Gen. Robert Nabors, USA (Ret.), senior vice president for enterprise solutions and homeland security, EDS, will lead the session’s discussion.

In addition to his participation as a panel moderator, Gen. Raduege will oversee the DISA Developer Technical Exchange, which will run concurrently with TechNet at the Washington Convention Center. In the DISA Theater on the Solutions Showcase floor, which complements DISA TechNet 2003 booth, the agency’s senior leaders will discuss the organization’s transformation plans. More than 400 people are expected to attend DISA’s event.

The level of support and participation from both DISA and the Joint Staff illustrates the value the Defense Department and government agencies place on the TechNet event. “These organizations are faced with a daunting challenge, and they are confident that this convention is an opportunity to find ways to meet that challenge,” Gen. Dubia offers.

Additional information on TechNet International 2003 is available on the World Wide Web at