Threats and Challenges Predominate In the Dynamic Asia-Pacific Region

February 2000
By Melvin Ing

Leaders count on information technology for operations into the next century.

Past met present and looked toward the future as top-level decision and policy makers convened in Hawaii to discuss the role of the military in the Pacific. With reminders of Pearl Harbor and the Cold War present, key military, industry and government leaders expressed the need for preparedness in the region. They also explored the technologies that are key to operations in the area.

AFCEA's TechNet Asia-Pacific '99 Conference, held in November in Honolulu, began with opening remarks by Gen. John H. Tilelli, Jr., USA, commander in chief, United Nations Command/U.S. Forces Korea/Combined Forces Command Korea. Gen. Tilelli spoke about Korea and the successes, challenges and threats concerning the region. He also explained many of the command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) challenges. The general described the Korean situation as the last bastion of the Cold War. Based on what he called the "tyranny of proximity"--closeness of Seoul to the 38th parallel--and given that the Korean Peninsula could fit into the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area, Gen. Tilelli concluded that C4I is one of the critical factors for preparedness in the region. He noted that, despite the obstacles and challenges inherent in the area, there is a silver bullet--the service men and women serving in Korea.

The conference officially began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by the opening of the exhibit hall, where Hawaii Governor Benjamin Cayetano and Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris reiterated the important role and value of AFCEA, the military and the TechNet Asia-Pacific Conference. The exhibit hall highlighted products and services from a number of different industry vendors such as Booz*Allen & Hamilton, Cabletron Systems, General Dynamics, Lucent Technologies and MCI Worldcom.

Gen. Patrick K. Gamble, USAF, commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, and air component commander, U.S. Pacific Command, spoke at Tuesday's keynote luncheon. Gen. Gamble's discussion centered around the theme of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) in the new millennium and explained the challenges involved when the analog past confronts a digital future. He discussed PACAF's mission to control aerospace power and what it has taken to make that goal a reality.

The first day's activities concluded with a reception aboard the USS Missouri. The USS Missouri is the site of the treaty signing that brought an end to the final chapter of World War II. The ship is within sight of the sunken USS Arizona, and that memorial calls attention to the importance of military preparedness.

Wednesday's sessions began with a breakfast speaker, Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti, USMC, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific; commanding general, Fleet Marine Forces Pacific; and commander, U.S. Marine Corps Bases Pacific. The general presented a commander's viewpoint and focused on the technology needed for the 21st century.

He discussed new technology initiatives for the Marine Corps such as the force warfighting laboratory, the exercise and simulation center, and the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps intranet. He stated that the ability to fight and win as well as the ability to be ahead of the opponent's decision cycle is key to ultimate success. The systems approach to sharing, disseminating and using information with decision makers and troops on the battlefield is vital to that success.

Adm. Dennis C. Blair, USN, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command, spoke at a luncheon later that day. He discussed how information technology drives change and how information technology will affect operations in the future. Adm. Blair also explained how security policy and procedures need to be changed.

The evening's social activity was an oceanside luau at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. In association business that evening, Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.), president and chief executive officer, AFCEA International, recognized Brig. Gen. James D. Bryan, USA, director, command, control and communications systems, U.S. Pacific Command, and Col. Bill Haney, USA (Ret.), for their outstanding support of AFCEA.

Thursday began with a breakfast presentation by Lt. Gen. James C. King, USA, director, National Imagery and Mapping Agency. In his discussion, Gen. King explained the importance of providing forces with the best doctrine, training, material, hardware and software to do their jobs. He explained that one aspect of this is battlespace visualization, which gives the commander a clear picture of the battlefield.

The luncheon speaker was Rear Adm. Charles L. Munns, USN, deputy chief of staff for resources, requirements and assessments, U.S. Pacific Fleet, who spoke about knowledge superiority. The concept of knowledge superiority embraces several aspects that include the network afloat, network ashore, information management and process change.

Throughout the conference, distinguished guests led several informational and discussion panels. These included a ManTech panel led by Maj. Gen. Eugene C. Renzi, USA (Ret.), president, ManTech Telecommunications and Information Systems Corporation; a warfighters panel led by Gen. King; a General Services Administration panel led by Federal Technology Service Deputy Commissioner Sandra Bates, General Services Administration; and a J-6 panel led by Gen. Bryan.