Everyone agrees that intelligence is at the top of the requirements list for the war on terrorism. And, many experts agree that technology derived from the commercial sector will complement human expertise in this vital endeavor. The time has come for both government and industry to stop thinking of the commercial sector as a vendor and embrace treating it as a partner with the intelligence community.
It is preaching to the choir to tell SIGNAL readers how information technology has improved military capabilities. The network-centric environment that defines the 21st-century force may be the most important military technology development since gunpowder. And, as with all innovation-driven changes, this one is spawning a host of side effects—some of which actually challenge the tactical force effectiveness that these technologies aim to empower.
A great deal has been written about how information technologies represent a new industrial revolution, and many of the changes of that revolution have reached into virtually every corner of our lives. Yet, that two-decade-old transformation is now being changed by a revolution emerging from within: the advent of ubiquitous wireless connectivity.
Individuals in the industrialized West are living this change firsthand as they equip themselves with cellular telephones, BlackBerrys and other personal digital assistants (PDAs). But, the importance of this revolution best can be seen where it has the greatest impact—in the military.
Since 1946, AFCEA has prided itself on the role it plays in being a conduit between government and industry. Our association has served to help move the finest technology offered by the Free World into the hands of its warfighters. This has been accomplished because of the ethical environment that AFCEA creates to allow frank “roll-up-the-sleeves” dialogue. This environment enables government to be exposed to the great advances that information technology (IT) is making in the commercial sector. I am convinced that AFCEA has played a key role in making the use of COTS, or commercial off-the-shelf, equipment an accepted practice for government IT professionals.
Being an AFCEAN for many years gives one a unique perspective on what makes AFCEA International so successful. As with any good organization, AFCEA comprises several elements that work well together. And, as for any organization that has continued to thrive over several decades, an examination of AFCEA’s successes should help pinpoint areas to make the association as a whole even stronger.
It’s time for us to admit that operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom both were victories for the command and control capability provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA. The military’s communications provider rose to the occasion and served up a platter of bandwidth to information-hungry network-centric forces. The result was two overwhelming victories that reinforced the concept of information as the linchpin for U.S. military supremacy.
Now, DISA enters a new era in which its status as a Defense Department agency is taking on an operational role. It is becoming a part of a combatant command, and this promises to alter DISA’s character as well as its standing within the defense community.