Commentary

Tuesday, January 02, 2010
By Kent R. Schneider

As we kick off the new year, it is appropriate to give you an update on AFCEA—what have we accomplished over the past year and where we are headed in 2010.

The year 2009 was good for AFCEA globally. As most of you know, we put both a strategic plan and an execution (500-day) plan in place. These plans are important to achieve a common vision for AFCEA and to provide a framework for decision making at every level of leadership. In these plans, two fundamental tenets of AFCEA were reaffirmed. First, AFCEA is a member-based organization, and service to all our members is Job 1. Second, our chapters remain the core of the association.

December 2009
By Kent R. Schneider

Periodically, we ask the senior leadership of the global security community to give us feedback on their top priorities in the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence and information technology domains. In the past couple of years, they have been fairly consistent in saying that their top priority is interagency and coalition information sharing.

As a result, AFCEA and its members have focused a good deal of attention on these issues. Not surprisingly, we have found that there are a number of crucial factors to address that can be grouped into the categories of technology, security and governance. But, in the end, we have found that it comes down to trust.

April 2009
By Kent R. Schneider

We all know the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as the keeper of enterprise networks for the defense community. We know DISA as the agency cognizant of many of the U.S. Defense Department’s key joint enterprise applications. But we also know that in recent years, DISA’s role in network centricity has grown.

June 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

In 1986, the Goldwater-Nichols Act mandated jointness in the Defense Department. This affected training, doctrine, personnel management and assignments, force structure and operations. Joint operations and a joint approach to command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) have become fundamental to the way we fight.

May 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

We all know the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) as the agency that grew out of its predecessor—the Defense Communications Agency (DCA)—to manage a full range of information technology systems and services for the Defense Department. But more than a name change took place since that transition. The DISA of today bears little resemblance to the organization that took on this expanded mission.

April 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

Wireless connectivity is everywhere and is becoming a more important part of our personal and professional lives.

In the personal domain, Wi-Fi and WiMAX coverage has grown dramatically, and the number of devices to use this wideband coverage has grown even faster. Third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) cellular technologies have become even more pervasive, and the functionality of new cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) is truly impressive, empowering road warriors like never before.

March 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

Web 2.0. Web 3.0. Webinars. Podcasts. Blogs. RSS feeds. Virtual environments. Social networking. This is the language of today’s Internet. It has not been the language of AFCEA, but that is changing. Our younger members are very comfortable in this environment. The rest of us in government and industry are trying to catch up and learn how to apply these technologies and this culture to our work. AFCEA is moving to help.

February 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

A number of you in government and industry have told us that AFCEA should provide smaller, more interactive forums focused on critical issues. We have listened and created a new series of events called Solutions. You should have begun to see some communications regarding these new events. I think the introduction of this new series of forums is such a critical milestone for AFCEA and such an opportunity for our membership that I should explain why this series of events is fundamentally different from anything we have done before.

January 2008
By Kent R. Schneider

As AFCEA enters its 62nd year, I am pleased to report that the association has never had a stronger program of services nor been sounder financially. We have been listening to our stakeholders and are responding with a new set of offerings that will be important to every member.

December 2007
By Kent R. Schneider

In an era in which commercial research and development dominates scientific progress, government research is important—particularly for the military. It is research in critical technologies that allows our national security structure to maintain the edge—to differentiate the United States from potential adversaries. This enables force projection, allows us to work more effectively with our coalition partners, and maximizes our force effectiveness while minimizing loss of life for the United States.

November 2007
By Kent R. Schneider

In my commentary last month, I discussed information sharing, a topic that has reached virtually every organization in government and industry. This month I address command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) in the tactical environment. The two are closely related, as their symbiotic relationship virtually dictates that success in one is essential for success in the other.

October 2007
By Kent R. Schneider

We are seeing a level of partnership and collaboration in information sharing that we never have seen before. The national security community, now expanded to include homeland security, long has recognized the need for information sharing, and we have had some interfaces among these elements for some time. But only in the past few years has this requirement received appropriate priority. Homeland security, the Global War on Terrorism and increased emphasis on nontraditional missions have placed a premium on information sharing. However, this remains a work in progress.

September 1, 2007
By Kent R. Schneider

My involvement with AFCEA goes back 38 years. I have been in a number of volunteer leadership positions at the chapter and international levels, and I am excited about starting out on this journey as your association’s president and chief executive officer.

March 2007
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

After five and a half years in which you have entrusted in me a leadership position at AFCEA International, it is now time for me to step down as president and chief executive officer.

These years have been eventful ones replete with challenges and opportunities. I assumed the helm of AFCEA less than three weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. That 21st century Day of Infamy changed the world forever, and our association and its members found themselves in the thick of the activities that followed.

February 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

A former boss used to remind all of us, “Security is like oxygen. You never think about it until you don’t have it. And when you don’t have it, you don’t think about anything else.” But this brings to mind the question, security of what?

 

Many people think of homeland security in terms of physical entities—infrastructure elements such as railroads, power grids or even the World Wide Web. But in fact, the centerpiece of any security system is people. We safeguard physical plants to provide effective security for the people they serve, not just to preserve hardware.

January 2007
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

Governments, militaries and businesses worldwide are in the midst of various types of transformations. AFCEA members can be pleased with their own association’s embrace of change. It always is important for an organization such as ours to transform as nations around the globe adjust to the dynamic information age as well as the changing nature of conflict and security amid the Global War on Terrorism.

December 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The U.S. Navy, master of the seas and leader in net centricity, faces an uncertain future in the very information technology applications it has led for years. If the Navy does not change its personnel system and its education system, then it will be a Navy that can maintain only information tools that are developed elsewhere and modified to fit the maritime role. Without a change in direction, our Navy will not be able to build and support the tools designed to serve the maritime warfighter from requirements development to acquisition.

November 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The tactical level of the Global War on Terrorism is having a greater effect on the war’s strategic outcome than we ever would have predicted. Rather than being an issue of doctrine or force structure, this is largely an information technology issue. Today, information gathering and information transfer occur blindly from the tactical level to the strategic level.

October 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

It has been said that the two news items published most inside the Beltway are “operational successes” and “intelligence failures.” Nothing would please me more than to be able to list all of the positive developments in real intelligence collection and sharing that have occurred since the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004—but I cannot. However, the intelligence community, in the wake of this restructuring, has provided a greater glimpse than ever before of its goals and effectiveness. Unfortunately, the public seems aware of only those widely publicized intelligence failures.

September 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

AFCEANs always have prided themselves on looking to the future, especially with regard to change and transformation. An association cannot flourish and remain successful for six decades without its members and leaders maintaining a visionary approach to operations and planning.

But it also is good to take a look in the rearview mirror every now and then. AFCEA turns 60 this year, and all of us connected with the association are exceptionally proud of what its members have done to bring government and industry together as a team. While that team might have formed anyway, with AFCEA merely serving as a catalyst, nonetheless being a catalyst is an important role and one in which we all should take pride.

August 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

July 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

Back in 1946 when AFCEA and SIGNAL Magazine were new, the number-one technology problem vexing military planners was to provide mobile communications to the warfighter. Now, 60 years later, we face exactly the same challenge. Even though all of the other factors of warfare have changed, that problem still persists.

June 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

May 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review and the fiscal year 2007 defense budget submission were noteworthy for their focus on special operations forces. Both documents called for increased emphasis on small, highly trained, mobile units in the ongoing global war on terrorism. Our success in ridding Afghanistan of its Taliban rulers showed how effective coalition special forces can be in the shadowy war against terrorists.

April 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The military is on the cusp of a new generation of sensor advances. Signal processing and detection technologies are uniting to provide better information and understanding than ever before. Combine that development with the global network being extended to the warfighter and you have the potential for the greatest situational awareness picture ever envisioned by a military planner.

But the pitfall that the military must avoid has not changed: sensor overload. Information that is collected by a sensor must get to the person who needs it in the right format and in a timely manner. How to do that without overwhelming the user has been a topic of debate for years.

March 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

Last summer’s Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) change of command was bittersweet for the information technology community, as we said farewell to one friend and welcome aboard to another. It also was a reflection of how blessed our nation is that as we make changes at the highest levels in our armed forces and their agencies, we continue to provide superb leadership and management. Even when styles and methods are different, the change almost always turns out to be healthy.

February 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The headline-driven controversy over the PATRIOT Act tends to obscure many of the key issues that buttress this important element in the war on terrorism. The Free World is facing an unyielding enemy that is using every aspect of Western society—from its liberties and protections to its technological infrastructure—to suit its twisted ideology that lauds mass murder of innocents. The United States faces a difficult task in that it must adjust its institutions and its way of life to prevent further mass casualties, but it must do so without destroying the very foundation of our 230-year-old society.

January 2006
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

This year, AFCEA International marks its 60th anniversary. As with other successful organizations, the key to AFCEA’s future lies in its members. Our corporate, government and military members do more than just define the association; they also serve as the focal point of our activities, which are entering a new phase in the association’s storied saga.

As AFCEA embarks on a course into its seventh decade, I am very proud of the service that our association continues to provide to our members’ nations. This reflects well on the ability of our chapters and their regions to bring together government and industry to understand requirements and to develop solutions.

December 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

From its start as an adjunct to warfighting to its expanded role in all forms of military activities, the discipline of information operations has steadily increased in importance to the modern force. The concept has grown in size and scope, and it now finds itself occupying an important seat at the table of force projection. Yet this evolution did not come about without difficulty, and challenges still remain before the true effectiveness of information operations can be realized.

November 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The recent disasters caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita on the Gulf Coast of the United States laid bare many long-overlooked facts. Among them is the importance of local communications interoperability. From individuals at home to emergency responders operating on a national scale, communications connectivity is vital during a crisis. The communications shortcomings experienced during that series of disasters contributed to the difficulties faced by the populace.

October 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

September 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The U.S. decision to reduce the number of its forces in Europe has increased the need for interoperable systems among the militaries of the Continent. For decades European nations could focus on working with a large U.S. force structure, secure in the thought that “if it works with the United States, it will work throughout NATO.” Now the interoperability focus must shift to reach across the range of European nations.

August 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

There should be no debate over the need for effective information security in the information revolution. As digital information becomes more vital with the growth of cyberspace, securing it increases in importance. However, even with broad public awareness of the need for cybersecurity, the infosphere is faced with a serious challenge that is multifaceted and that defies easy solution.

For example, recently my wife’s computer rebelled and refused to cooperate. As the machine’s functions deteriorated and my wife’s frustrations grew, she declared that if the cause were another virus, then she would give up going online and would cede cyberspace to the bad guys.

July 2005
By Cmdr. Henry Johnson, USNR (Ret.), AFCEA San Diego Chapter President

June 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

When people look at the ongoing force transformation, they probably see investments in technology changing the way that the military services are equipped. The goal is for the military to be better prepared to fight the nation’s wars in the foreseeable future. This visage might translate to lighter, more agile forces; a more ground-centric military; or more automated and unmanned platforms—depending on the viewer’s perspective.

January 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

This year will mark a watershed event for AFCEA International; one that we think will be very beneficial to all of our constituencies: government, military, industry and academia.

AFCEA International’s objective always has been—and will continue to be—to inform the public, to provide professional development opportunities, and to bring together industry and government with unquestionable ethics. As part of this thrust, for more than 50 years AFCEA has held its annual convention and exposition in Washington, D.C. Recently known as TechNet International, the event has served to consolidate association sponsors, members and their related technologies—in effect, AFCEA International’s identity—under a single roof.

February 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

As Alvin Toffler predicted almost 30 years ago, society is transitioning from its second wave, the industrial revolution, to the third wave, the information age. All three waves, beginning with the agrarian age, offered their own elements of control that proved vital to prevailing economically and politically. In the first wave, the objective in the agrarian society was to control the land from which life-giving food would be harvested. In the industrial second wave, the objective was to control the means of production. Now, in the information age, the objective is to control the information technology.

March 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

Just one year after the Defense Department launched its Defense Reform Initiative, information technology is proving to be a vital player in this effort to bring the department into the next millennium. The U.S. military’s increasing reliance on information systems for operations and support has opened the door for the commercial sector both to enable change and to benefit from it.

May 2005
By Vice Adm. Herbert A. Browne, USN (Ret.)

The network-centric Free World is placing a greater emphasis on intelligence than ever before—both for battlespace military operations and for winning the war on terrorism. However, while much attention has been focused on intelligence collection, processing and dissemination, it is knowledge management that will win or lose conflicts in the future.

April 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

This month, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) celebrates its 50th anniversary. In addition to preserving peace and freedom for members on three continents, NATO’s strength and resolve contributed to the collapse and dissolution of its adversary. With the alliance’s original task accomplished, NATO now stands on the cusp of a new era where its primary mission can be to extend freedom to those long denied.

May 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

As they become interconnected through the evolution of network-centric warfare, military forces are discovering the increasingly indispensable nature of geospatial information systems, or GIS. At many levels, mission planning now relies on GIS products to ensure success and reduce losses during potentially hazardous actions. Even the civil government and commercial worlds are incorporating these emerging technologies into their everyday operations. While all this activity ensures a continued flow of innovation into the GIS wellspring, new and considerable investments must be made now to ensure that GIS continues to meet user needs in the foreseeable future.

June 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

Tradition permeates AFCEA International. Our roots are in the military, an organization that many affectionately refer to as “family.” And our heritage also stems from the government—the cornerstone of every country. Intertwining these two entities is industry that supports them, provides for them and depends on them. As we look toward the beginning of a new century, information technology has become the common language between these three organizations, and AFCEA has evolved into the conduit for communication.

July 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

In government, industry, the military and society as a whole, technology reigns. Change is coming faster than words can be written to describe it. In virtually every corner of the world, information systems are remaking governments, re-engineering economies, restructuring militaries and redefining societies. Not even the industrial revolution had as far-reaching an effect when it sprang upon the world less than two centuries ago.

August 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

If knowledge is power and information is a force multiplier, then security is the key to defense and commercial supremacy in the information age. Any kind of strength, whether military or economic, represents a target for adversaries or competitors. Information, however, is to modern civilization what fire was at the dawn of humankind: an unlimited asset that, if not controlled, quickly can be turned against its user.

September 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

The fast pace of change occurring in technology and business today has prompted industry and government agencies to explore innovative approaches to conducting business. While old paradigms are not being discarded, they are being reviewed to determine their effectiveness. Organizations that are willing to venture into uncharted waters are encountering successes and obstacles, but regardless of the outcome, they have learned lessons that both they and others can incorporate into future endeavors.

October 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

The U.S. intelligence community must take the initiative in developing a broad, cohesive plan for national intelligence. This effort must encompass specific funding requirements, new sensor and collection systems, information architectures and centralized authority over the intelligence community.

The sense of urgency comes from the uncertainty that is characteristic of the post-Cold-War era. This includes the lack of a single, easily defined threat and the explosion of information throughout cyberspace. International coalition operations add new requirements for collection, processing and dissemination. And, despite budget surpluses, significant funding increases are unlikely.

November 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

The vast Asia-Pacific region, rife with emerging democracies and revitalized economies, must turn its attention to establishing a viable security framework. Greater economic interdependence and the benefits of the information revolution present that region with both opportunities for growth and threats of destabilizing unrest.

December 1999
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

The military information revolution has been underway for many years now, but its outcome remains far from clear. Advances in communications and computing are teaming with promising materials developments to reshape the defense environment for decades to come. However, the defense community may be starting to suffer an Alvin Toffler-style “future shock” as it tries to embrace too many technology-enabled opportunities. It is absolutely vital that defense planners focus on their goals for the military and plan accordingly, rather than merely design future forces around new or anticipated technologies.

February 2000
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

Never before has the potential for significant sociological change resided so strongly—and so clearly—in the hands of technologists. Computers already are redefining virtually every aspect of human existence. The onset of the year 2000, along with Y2K computer bug concerns, caused many users to reflect on the importance of these information machines in their lives. In addition to streamlining many duties and opening up new applications, the ongoing evolution of computers also is changing the way that businesses, governments and their militaries interact with the people they serve.

April 2000
By Lt. Gen. C. Norman Wood, USAF (Ret.)

The future of telecommunications is being shaped by new usage trends driven by emerging technologies. These trends long have molded both military and civilian requirements.