Gen. Craig R. McKinley, USAF, chief of the National Guard Bureau, opened the final day of Joint Warfighting Conference 2010 describing how the Army and Air National Guard has been seamlessly integrated into active duty forces. This melding between full-time and what used to be disparagingly called "weekend warriors" is the result of both dedicated leadership and willing U.S. citizens. The number of guardsmen involved in current military operations overseas is a prime example of this integration: between 55,000 and 60,000 of the troops in the Middle East today belong to the National Guard. This has allowed active duty personnel to spend more dwell time at home.
The final panel of the 2010 Joint Warfighting Conference focused on two topics that have been discussed consistently for more than a decade: lack of interoperability and convoluted acquisition. Though the panelists agreed on the problems, their opinions about solutions differed slightly. Vago Muradian, panel moderater, opened the discussion stating that the need to improve interoperability has been at the heart of the last two administrations and remains a priority in the Obama administration. One topic of particular interest to members of industry in the audience concerned changing import/export rules. Muradian believes that changes to these policies would help ensure interoperability.
If there is one military leader who can be counted on to tell it like it is, it's Gen. James N. Mattis, USMC, commander, JFCOM. And as the final speaker of the Joint Warfighting Conference, attendees were not let down. With the strength of words, he brought his depth of experience to thoughtfully describe what he sees as the needs for the future. In an international age, every nation brings something to the table, each country brings a tone to an alliance, Gen. Mattis began. This mind-set must be more than just words and become an attitude coalition partners admire. As panelists had discussed just moments earlier, Gen.
From what would only be referred to as "an undisclosed location," Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, commander, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), joined the Joint Warfighting Conference for lunch via VTC. After only a few brief remarks, Gen. Petraeus opened the floor for questions and spoke eloquently off the cuff to questions on subjects that ranged from cyberspace to shortfalls. The general noted that the topic of the conference, "Combatant and Coalition Commanders: What Will They Need Five Years From Now?" is apropos, but at the same time, he has never met a combatant commander who hasn't insisted that he needs more of everything. That said, Gen.
Led by Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.), AFCEA International's former president and CEO, the final panel on Wednesday took on one of the toughest topics yet: fighting through a digital meltdown. But panelists were stand-offish about tackling this topic head on. Instead, they referred to how well prepared the U.S. military is to defend against attacks, how equally dependent adversaries are on technology as well and how warfighters on the tactical edge already are operating without dependable network connectivity. Robert Carey, DON CIO, questioned whether the entire network could be taken down. Today, the military is far better equipped than it ever has been in this arena, he stated.
Joint Warfighting Conference attendees enjoyed the rare opportunity to listen to the former leaders of homeland security and homeland defense in a roundtable discussion moderated by David Hartman, former host of Good Morning America. Hartman asked some of the pointed questions that were on many attendees' minds going from as far back as the institution of the PATRIOT Act through to cyberthreats. The Honorable Michael Chertoff, former DHS secretary, and Adm. Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Pacific Command, agreed that the increase of information sharing between agencies is by far the greatest tool the U.S. has to support homeland security and aid in homeland defense.
One of only two non-U.S. military leaders of NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Gen. Stephane Abrail, French Air Force, launched the second day of the Joint Warfighting Conference by calling it the most important conference of its kind. First and foremost, coalition commanders in the future will need balance to prepare for the operations of tomorrow. Although the militaries must not neglect Gen. Stanley McCrystal's needs as a leader of the fight in Afghanistan today, they also must plan for the needs of mission leaders of 2015 and 2025. "The five-year horizon is a tricky one.
In the emerging global landscape, it seems increasingly clear to many that China's catapult to power will bring more challenges for international security to the surface. Dr. Patrick Cronin, senior adviser and senior director, Asia-Pacific Security Program Center for a New American Security, said that China has focused on an asymmetrical rise to power using cyber warfare-hacking without precedent in the world of espionage. Joe Purser, director, Joint Futures Group, U.S. Joint Forces Command, added that China has changed more in the past 40 years than any other nation in the world.
While many conferences suffer from waning interest as panel session after panel session and speaker after speaker present valuable information over two days, this year's AFCEA Homeland Security conference proved to be quite the opposite. The Thursday afternoon sessions were nearly as full as the presentations that took place on Wednesday, at least in part because of the last topic discussion: procurement.
AFCEA's 9th Annual Homeland Security Conference kicked off yesterday morning with a panel session focused on cybersecurity issues. The panelists highlighted a variety of ongoing federal initiatives to defend the nation's critical infrastructure from cyberattacks and discussed some of the new threats developing in cyberspace. Representing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Bruce McConnell, counselor to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD) Deputy Under Secretary, outlined several efforts being undertaken by the department.
The popularity and growth of social media networks and blogs offers federal agencies new tools to get their message to the nation's citizens. However, the openness of social media platforms also presents a security challenge. A panel of government and commercial media experts pondered the implications of widespread adoption of social media platforms at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. The U.S. military has recently adopted social networking as an extension of its public affairs activities. Col. Kevin V. Arata, USA, director of the Army Online and Social Media Division, explained that the service wanted to formalize how it approached social media.
Technology has had a significant impact in streamlining the work of Washington D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). This was the message conveyed by D.C. MPD Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier yesterday during a lunchtime address to the attendees at AFCEA's Homeland Security Conference. In her three-year tenure as police chief, Chief Lanier has worked to revamp what she described as an antiquated, paper-driven record-keeping and reporting system. She explained that when she became chief in 2007, all police reports were written by hand and hand-delivered by police officers across the department.
Managing the myriad programs designed to provide border security has proved challenging. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has launched a variety of technology efforts designed to enhance border security. Likewise, civilian firms are deeply involved with DHS in supporting these programs. Two panels running Wednesday examined the government and industry perspectives of coordinating border security. To adequately track the millions of people crossing U.S. borders every day, the DHS launched the US VISIT program. Initiated in 2004, the program logs and records the identities of foreign nationals entering the United States.
Industrializing the production of software will provide a huge improvement in capability, said an adviser to OPNAV. Thomas Hone, Naval War College Liaison with OPNAV, was addressing solutions to Navy needs at West 2010 in San Diego, but his perspective applies across the spectrum of information technology users. "We don't have software that can make software," he observed, and he drew a historical parallel to how the automobile became ubiquitous after Henry Ford automated its construction to mass-produce millions. Great achievements can take place when software is mass-produced, he said.
The 21st century U.S. Navy is building around information as it reshapes its force for new challenges, according to the chief of naval operations. Adm. Gary Roughead, USN, told a packed luncheon audience on the last day of West 2010 that information will be the guiding force for the Navy in the coming years. "Our way forward must be centered on information and how we use it," Adm. Roughead declared. A key to that information exploitation is unmanned vehicles and systems. The admiral noted that the Navy has deployed a vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on a ship involved in counterdrug operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Today was an exciting day at West 2010--and I'm not talking about the dynamic speakers and exhibitors. This morning my hotel had a small fire somewhere near the lobby, so I woke up before my alarm because of the loud, persistent sirens coming in through my window. Fortunately the situation was handled quickly and easily--thanks to San Diego's finest first responders. Unfortunately, I saw those first responders this afternoon after a medical emergency occurred on the exhibit floor.
A swash-buckling Johnny Depp may be what most think of when the word "pirate" is mentioned, but the problem is much more serious that anything Hollywood could portray. Today's WEST 2010 mid-day panel discussed just how critical this problem has become-especially off the coast of Somalia-and what is holding back solutions from being implemented. Moderator Dr. Virginia Lunsford did an excellent job of juggling as she encouraged each panel member-as well as audience members-to speak their minds about the problem. Perhaps the most candid member of the panel was Col. David W. Coffman, USMC, commander of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
It's rare that an audience of industry and service members at all ranks get the chance to hear first hand from the first of a kind. But that was the case after eating lunch on Wednesday of WEST 2010. Vice Adm. Jack Dorsett, USN, the Navy's first N2/N6 may have begun his speech by wondering why he was among other high-ranking military experts at the conference, but he followed through with revealing the latest approaches the Navy is taking to achieve information dominance. The Navy is developing new mini-road maps of sorts that address nearly a dozen topics, including undersea dominance, maritime ballistic C2 and improved maritime domain awareness.
Finally have time to see some of the dynamic techs here at WEST 2010. Am at the Microsoft booth right now because I needed technical assistance to connect. What better place to go?!? So here we go with the incredible capabilities being demo'ed here. And of course, I'm going to start with Microsoft! At booth 1703, you'll find four major themes in newest techs: Microsoft virtualization leveraging Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008 R2. It promotes high-availability server consolidation. And of course, since I'm running Windows 7, this has got to be the next one I talk about. Come to the booth to see the newest software and how it's different from what you've used before.
The U.S. Navy, the dominant power of the waves, is actually a relic of the Cold War that must be reshaped to deal with modern threats, according to the lead author of a 2007 maritime strategy. Cdr. Bryan McGrath, USN (Ret.), director of consulting, studies and analysis, Delex Systems, Inc., told a breakfast panel audience at West 2010 that today's U.S. Navy was designed in the Carter administration to defeat the Soviet Union in battle. It is the inherent flexibility of naval forces that allows it to be hyper relevant today, he stated. McGrath urged a return to the traditional naval mission-sea control. "We are oversubscribed in land attack," he said.