Pacific Rim Technologists Focus on Warfighter

February 2001
By Melvin Ing

A vast area must be networked properly to ensure security.

New technology for the warfighter and the interoperability issues that encompass the expansive Pacific region were the focus of top-level leaders at the 15th annual TechNet Asia-Pacific 2000 Conference and Exposition held in Honolulu, Hawaii, December 5 to 7. The conference and exposition brought together numerous entities that make the warfighter successful. The location of activities at sites such as the USS Missouri, and the timing of the event during the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, highlighted the relevance of the conference.

This year’s annual event featured many distinguished U.S. military commanders in the Pacific, leading military communicators from numerous Pacific Rim nations, members of major federal agencies and numerous executives from the business sector. Attendees and distinguished guests at the kickoff breakfast were welcomed by Mary Jane McKeever, chairman of the board, AFCEA International; Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.), president and chief executive officer, AFCEA International; and Timothy Freeman, president of the AFCEA Hawaii Chapter.

Lt. Gen. Frank Libutti, USMC, commanding general, U.S. Marine Corps Pacific, who was the speaker at the first breakfast, presented his perspective as a warfighter, which helped frame the purpose and overall mission of the conference.

Featured at the USARPAC Luncheon was Lt. Gen. Edwin P. Smith, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Pacific. Gen. Smith presented an insightful view of what is needed to ensure the success of the warfighter. He not only provided insight on the Army but also provided an interservice perspective.

The conference’s first panel, “Information Services in Support of PacRim-Military/Industry Roles and Mission,” began in the afternoon.  Moderated by Maj. Gen. Eugene Renzi, USA (Ret.), president, ManTech International Telecommunications and Information Systems Corporation, this session explored the relationship of the military and industry in support of the ultimate end-user—the warfighter. Panelists included Sandra Bates, commissioner, General Services Administration, Federal Technology Service; Maj. Gen. James D. Bryan, USA, deputy director, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA); Paul Kayatta, president, Global Government Solutions Group, Global Crossing; Dawn Meyerriecks, chief technology officer, DISA; and Brig. Gen. Joe Oder, USA (Ret.), director of federal relations, Nortel Networks.

That evening, as the muffled sounds of taps echoed across the starlit waters of Pearl Harbor, several hundred TechNet Asia-Pacific 2000 participants paid their respects to the fallen crew of the USS Arizona entombed within its hull. Attendees gathered onboard the USS Missouri for a conference reception that reflected on the theme of support to the warfighter.

The second day’s breakfast speaker featured a first for the conference—a video address. The speaker, Lt. Gen. Daniel R. Zanini, USA, commander, Eighth U.S. Army, and chief of staff, U.S. Forces Korea, delivered his comments via videoconference from Korea. He noted that the Army’s position in the Korean peninsula provides unique and real life situations that test the reliability of communications for command and control and for joint interoperability.

Immediately following the breakfast was the panel “Logistics Automation: Supporting the Pacific Warfighter and Theater Engagement.” Hosted by Col. Stephen R. Cooper, USAF, chief, Logistics Automation and Re-engineering Directorate (J41), U.S. Pacific Command, the panel also featured Lt. Col. Wanda K. Garrity, USAF, chief, Logistics Automation Branch, U.S. Pacific Command; and William S. Crowder, program manager for technology assessments, Logistics Management Institute.

The CINCPACFLT Luncheon featured comments from Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, USN, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Adm. Fargo made several critical points when discussing the importance of readiness and achieving knowledge superiority. Additionally, his thoughts about creating a climate that fosters recruitment and retention of the Navy’s best people provided a perspective on how important it is not only to have modern systems and tools, but also to have outstanding people at the controls.

Maj. Gen. Nancy R. Adams, USA, commanding general, Tripler Army Medical Center, was the moderator for a panel titled “Telemedicine: Enabling 21st Century Business Strategies in Health Care.” Typically a significant subject, this topic also was discussed from the perspective of support within the Pacific Rim. The panelists included Col. Rosemary Nelson, USA, program manager and chief information officer, Tripler Army Medical Center; Frank Fukunaga, vice president Pacific operations, MELE Associates; and Donald R. Northam, principal, KSJ & Associates Incorporated.

Business leaders in the audience at the Commander PACAF Breakfast gained a balanced view of the type of solutions being provided to the military. Gen. Patrick K. Gamble, USAF, commander, Pacific Air Forces, who hosted the breakfast, presented an Air Force view and gave the audience another perspective of command and control and interoperability.

All effort ultimately comes back to supporting the warfighter, emphasized members of an ensuing panel moderated by Brig. Gen. Jan Hicks, USA, director for command, control, communications and computer systems, U.S. Pacific Command. Other panel members included Col. Sue Ann Olsavicky, USAF; Col. Steve Spano, USAF; Capt. Steve Sudkamp, USN; Col. Ronnie Hawkins, USAF; Col. Charles Cooke, USMC; Capt. Jim Fordice, USN; Col. Randy Strong, USA; and Lt. Col. Dave Miller, USAF. The standing-room-only audience comprised many senior communicators from other Pacific Rim nations.

The need for plug-and-play capabilities versus stand-alone or stovepipe systems is critical—not only for interservice command and control, but also among coalition forces. The success of the warfighter is dependent on many factors and groups, related Adm. Dennis C. Blair, USN, commander in chief, U.S. Pacific Command (USCINCPAC), at the USCINCPAC Luncheon. The admiral’s insight and ideas on how best to support his command’s mission—and ultimately the warfighter—sent a clear and concise message to the audience, especially to members of industry, and helped put the conference’s purpose into proper perspective.