LandWarNet 2011 Opens With Major Announcements

August 23, 2011
By Rita Boland

Lt. Gen. Susan S. Lawrence, USA, chief information officer/G-6, opened LandWarNet 2011, by promising that every one of the 453 vendors at the conference will be visited by a member of her senior team. They will fill out surveys describing the technologies they saw, which she will review, and she encourage all attendees also to contribute their insights about solutions that can address the Army's challenges by filling out the surveys. Gen. Lawrence introduced Maj. Gen. Alan R. Lynn, USA, Chief of Signal, Fort Gordon, who described some of the changes that are on the way, including the use of avatars to track each soldier as he or she enters the Army. The avatars will have the same characteristics of the individuals from their PT score to their weapons qualifications. Change is coming, Gen. Lynn said, from equipment to training to education to the way the Army employs troops. AFCEA International President and Chief Executive Officer Kent Schneider made one of the top announcements during the opening presentation about the future of the conference itself. In response to the need to tightened financial belts, LandWarNet 2012 will be the conglomeration of three regionally dispersed smaller events, reducing travel costs. Renamed TechNet Land Forces, the first event will take place in Tucson in March and focus on security and network operations. The second will be located in Tampa in July and concentrate on joint and coalition issues. The third will occur in Baltimore in August and focus on cyber. Vincent Viola, West Point graduate and financial sector entrepreneur extraordinaire, emphasized that the difference technology has made in both industry and the military transcends any changes that have occurred in the past. Prior to 1997, trading pits required physical fitness to literally elbow competitors out of the way to get an edge. Ten years later, with the introduction of technology, six times the amount of trading goes on, yet it is so quiet that the sound of a pin drop means something's not working right, he related. The military has experienced a comparable sea change, though Viola candidly revealed that at first many commanders were not thrilled about computers replacing their push-to-talk radios. Although today command centers are quieter than in the past, he challenged the Army to hold "silent exercises," where commanders would only be able to use a computer tablet to command and control the troops. "And if they talk, there's a punishment," he quipped. The drawback to these great technological advances, Viola was quick to point out, is that the cyberthreat has increased in tandem with benefits. Both to the military and industry, the ability to disrupt communications has a lower barrier to entry as technology costs plummet; malware is proliferating at a rate that can no longer be handled; cyberspace has truly become the 5th domain of warfare; and now battles are no longer about topography but about topology, he stated. These changes mean the military must rethink the people they seek to recruit. New soldiers not only must be physically fit but also have mental stamina as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance will be ever ubiquitous, which will require warfighters who can quickly assess incoming information. "They must be able to get 'inside the code,'" he said. "The Army of the future will be one of force power and a heart. We need to gather around the geeks. Maybe we need to find geeks who love their country. The Gestalt will be around 'geek-dom,'" Viola stated with a smile. The military must think of cyberwarfare in active rather than reactive ways, he added. There must be an offensive doctrine that includes identifying proactive, preemptive opportunities. "If you are not encouraging penetration tests of your systems, you'll fail," Viola stated. "We are at cyber war right now. There's no doubt in my mind."

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