TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 Day 4—SIGNAL's Online Show Daily

Tuesday, November 02, 2010
by Robert K. Ackerman
E-mail About the Author

Quote of the Day:
“Command and control of command and control is an extremely fertile ground that bears harvesting.”—Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, USN, deputy commander and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet


The final day of TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009 featured two panels and two speakers looking at the way ahead. First up was Lt. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, USMC, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, who explained which technologies were necessary for the Marines’ Pacific region mission.

High on his list are language translators. Saying “we bridge coalition language barriers every day,” Gen. Stalder specifically cited how useful the Marines would find a translation tool for PowerPoint slides. Other technologies he cited include mine countermeasures technology as well as shallow-water intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

But atop his technology requirements is improvised explosive device (IED) defeat technologies. Gen. Stalder allowed that he loses more Marines to IEDs in Afghanistan than he does in Iraq, and these deadly devices are spreading around the world to countries such as Thailand.

Gen. Stalder warned against what he described as a worrisome trend—the movement in the Defense Department to collapse all voice, data, video and mobile communications into a single Internet protocol (IP) network. The uncertainty of combat threatens this approach, he said, warning against “putting all our eggs in one basket.”


Lt. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, USMC, commander of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, gives the Thursday breakfast address at TechNet Asia-Pacific 2009.

The general related that the Marines are moving ahead into cyberwarfare. Admitting that cyberwarfare normally is not associated with the Marines, he noted that nonetheless the Marines are moving into training and making investments in cyberwarfare capabilities and facilities. A Marine cyber headquarters already has been established, and one company of Marines will serve there. Lt. Gen. George Flynn, USMC, will serve as a component commander to Lt. Gen. Keith G. Alexander, USA, director of the National Security Agency, who has been nominated for promotion to general and assignment as head of the U.S. Cyber Command.

A slightly different slant on the Marines was presented by Master Sgt. Glenn A. Brown, USMC, operations chief, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF)--Afghanistan. He warned in a panel discussion that the Marines are not training as they fight when it comes to information systems. As a result, personnel have to learn how to use vital command, control and communications (C3) gear in the field, which hinders their effectiveness in a combat zone. The master sergeant called for pre-deployment training on the same hardware and software that will be used in the field.

“If we can work on networks here and deploy that way in theater, then I don’t have to worry about that when I get into theater,” he said. “I already know how to do my job.”

The Navy has its own set of priorities, and explaining them was Rear Adm. Scott Van Buskirk, USN, deputy commander and chief of staff, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Rather than technology, the top information system priority was a capability—command and control of command and control (C2C2). The admiral said that the operationalization of C2C2 is a major element of work underway in his command. He described four elements: theater sensing/intelligence; network architecture, including cyber; commander’s decision aids that compile transmitted data into useful information; and network protection.

The lack of C2C2 automation tools is a challenge, and the admiral urged industry to remedy that shortcoming. “Command and control of command and control is an extremely fertile ground that bears harvesting,” the admiral stated.

Linda Newton, deputy chief of staff for C4I, U.S. Pacific Fleet, described the challenges of C2C2: intelligence architecture; network/cyber architecture—seabed to space, sensor to user; decision aides architecture—common operating pictures and other tools; and protection of individual architecture and the “whole” of the enterprise.

She added that the Navy is attempting to develop a C2C2 concept of operations and processes; incorporate it into maritime operations center; develop common C2 architecture management for all C2 architecture; continue technology development; and conduct experimentation.

Brig. Gen. Bret Williams, USAF, PACOM J-6, weighed in on the C2C2 discussion. He told the audience at a panel focusing on operationalizing cyber that, unless cyber is operationalized, C2C2 of a system cannot be realized.

And effective C2C2 may be necessary to combat the rising cyber threat to information systems. John Grimes, former assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, noted that exfiltrations happen every day. About three years ago, hackers stole some of the country’s most sensitive technology weapons systems through industry partners.

Since then, measures taken have helped avoid those types of losses in that manner, and new data centers provide redundancy is one is taken out by an adversary.

Acquiring all of these technologies and capabilities is a tall task that faces many hurdles. Lt. Gen. Robert Shea, USMC (Ret.), executive vice president, Smartronix, and former J-6, the Joint Staff, said that, too often, respective services build different systems for similar capabilities at the operations level. Budgetary pressures may render that approach a luxury, and thereby force military planners to do some of the things that the services and agencies have not been doing themselves.

To ensure that the right capabilities reach the user, requirements people should be kept tightly engaged throughout the entire process. They should be part of any discussions of tradeoffs, he emphasized.

Gen. Shea offered that part of the acquisition problem is the politicization of the process. People who are not part of the process come in and leave their mark and then depart the program, he charged.

The United States is not the only Pacific Rim nation facing these cyber challenges. Brig. Gen. Michael James Milford, AM, director general information, policy and plans, Chief Information Officers Group, told the audience about Australia’s efforts to operationalize cyber.

Slow procurement will be our Achilles’ heel, he warned, as faster and more agile adversaries will get better quicker than the military will. And, under the thumb of slow procurement, organizations will work to get around procurement rules, which in turn will result in a loss of procurement control and lead to system holes that will create vulnerabilities in the network.

Stating that signals intelligence (SIGINT) had the same standing 20 years ago, Gen. Milford called for normalizing and demystifying cyber to make it a part of other military activities. He noted that Australia has made several key decisions over the past few months. First, the government is creating a single portfolio for communications and information technology in defense. If a service chief or commander wants to obtain equipment, the request must go through a single budget and follow standards.


Mark your calendars for TechNet Asia-Pacific 2010, October 25-28, 2010, at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Enjoyed this article? SUBSCRIBE NOW to keep the content flowing.