Experts Zero In On Information Sharing

June 2005
By SIGNAL Staff

 
Thomas W. O’Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, gives a keynote address at TechNet Tampa 2005.
Network-centric operations just one aspect of combating terror worldwide.

Defeating terrorism will require close coalition coordination, especially for information garnered in the network-centric battlespace. Being able to provide accurate intelligence rapidly to the right coalition forces may prove to be a key element in winning the war on terror.

These issues formed the core of discussions at TechNet Tampa 2005, held March 8-9 at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida. Sponsored by AFCEA International and the AFCEA Tampa St. Petersburg Chapter, the event focused on the theme “Winning the Global War on Terrorism Through Effective Information Sharing.”

With a marked increase in participation over the past several years, TechNet Tampa is emerging as an important regional event for industry-government partnerships and professional development. Participants included members of the U.S. military, coalition partners from around the world and law enforcement.

TechNet Tampa was held in parallel with the 12th Annual Joint Tactical Communications Summit (JTCS) sponsored by the Joint Staff J-6 and the Joint Forces Command. The JTCS brings together command, control, communications and computers (C4) staff from across the U.S. Defense Department to discuss issues and solve problems of common interest in joint communications, such as spectrum use, acquisition reform and standards. The Joint Communications Support Element conducted a technology exercise on the grounds of the Tampa Convention Center during TechNet Tampa along the lines of the conference theme. The focus of the exercise was to integrate emerging information-sharing technologies into a deployable, tactical architecture.

Dr. Linton Wells II, acting assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration and U.S. Defense Department chief information officer, addresses the audience
at TechNet Tampa.
In alignment with the joint and coalition operations theme, TechNet Tampa hosted visiting coalition members from the 71 countries represented at the Coalition Village on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Some of those members, including Brig. Khan Tariq, Pakistan, and Air Cmdre. Bob Allan, RAF, participated in panels. Additionally, a four-member military delegation from Afghanistan was in attendance. Delegates were Brig. Gen. Mehrab Ali, Brig. Gen. Shahniaz Baba Merza, Col. Mohamad Karim Abdulla and Col. Abdula Rahim Said Farooq. In a special presentation, Gen. Ali presented Lt. Gen. John A. Dubia, USA (Ret.), executive vice president at AFCEA International, with a map of Afghanistan handmade from materials native to each region of the country.

Conference keynote speakers included Thomas W. O’Connell, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict; Gen. Bryan D. Brown, USA, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; and Maj. Gen. John G. Castellaw, USMC, chief of staff, U.S. Central Command.

The event featured two distinct tracks: one for C4 and one for intelligence. Four professional development courses were presented in these tracks by instructors from The Mitre Corporation and Fortress Technologies.

An intelligence panel led by Vice Adm. Eric Olson, USN, deputy commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command, focused on “Working the Seams: Intelligence in a Multi-Agency, Multi-National, Multi-Coalition Environment.” Adm. Olson was joined by panel members Brig. Gen. Michael Ennis, USMC, deputy director for human intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); Jeffrey N. Rapp, deputy director for combating terrorism, DIA; John T. Elliff, special adviser for policy matters, Office of Intelligence, Federal Bureau of Investigation; William Dawson, deputy intelligence community chief information officer (CIO) and special assistant for information sharing, Central Intelligence Agency; and Brig. Tariq, ranking officer, Pakistan Coalition Forces, MacDill Air Force Base. Panel members engaged in a discussion of the challenges facing the coalition in executing the global war on terrorism.

 
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio meets with members of a military delegation from Afghanistan including (l to r) Col. Mohamad Karim Abdulla, Brig. Gen. Mehrab Ali, Brig. Gen. Shahniaz Baba Merza and Col. Abdula Rahim Said Farooq.
Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Foley, USA, U.S. Central Command J-6 and CIO, led another set of panelists on the topic of “Building a World Class Network to Support Coalition Operations.” Cmdre. Allan, Permanent Joint Headquarters (U.K.) assistant chief of staff J-6, discussed the challenges of coalition interoperability as an enabler for information sharing. Col. Robert J. Steele, USAF, Air Force Communications Agency vice commander, reviewed combined air operations and joint theater command and control challenges. Dave Weddel, director, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Washington Operations, discussed FORCEnet and coalition interoperability, including the Multi-National Information Sharing project. This project’s objective is a single multinational information-sharing environment at strategic, operational and tactical levels. Richard Hale, Defense Information Systems Agency chief information assurance executive, wrapped up the panel with a briefing on authentication challenges in coalition networks and needed innovations for the road ahead.

TechNet Tampa attendees were able to peruse an exhibit area filled with technologies ranging from visualization software to tactical radios to robotics systems. AFCEA International provided its Career Transition Seminar at the conference, designed as a service for military and government personnel who are planning a transition to the private sector, as well as for industry personnel who are contemplating a career change. And for the first time, a small business workshop was featured at the conference. The workshop was introduced by Dr. Linton Wells II, acting assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration and Defense Department CIO. Its keynote speaker, Ed Miller, program executive officer for intelligence and information systems, U.S. Special Operations Command, was joined by a panel of experts from the community who provided in-depth advice on marketing, contracting and administration issues to help attendees understand how to do business with the government. Conference keynote speakers received signed copies of Maj. Gen Robert Scales’, USA (Ret.), book The Iraq War: A Military History, presented by Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.