Warfighters Fight The New Fight

October 2006
By Robert K. Ackerman
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Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, USA, Army chief information officer/G-6 (c), discusses radio communications systems at LandWarNet 2006 with Gen. William S. Wallace, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (l), and Brig. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center.
An agile foe requires flexible solutions.

The U.S. military must incorporate the ability to change on the fly in its information networks or it risks ceding the edge in the war on terrorism to the enemy. Better communications systems and networks must be implemented rapidly and in a manner that permits the force to adjust to the changing tactics of an elusive adversary.

These were just two of the points covered at LandWarNet 2006, held August 21-25 at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. While the conference was co-sponsored by AFCEA International, the U.S. Army Chief Information Officer/G-6, NETCOM/9th ADC and the Signal Regiment, the event had a decidedly purple color with its theme “Delivering Joint Integrated Solutions to the Warfighter Today.”

Lt. Gen. Steven W. Boutelle, USA, Army chief information officer/G-6, led off the conference by focusing on the global war on terrorism. Gen. Boutelle described the enemy as the first guerilla movement to migrate from the physical world to cyberspace. He told the audience of soldiers and industry officials, “They use it better than you—they use it to survive and to kill you.”

The G-6 called for more military communications satellites, saying that too much traffic is going over commercial orbiters. Noting that the cost of commercial transponder leases for Southwest Asia totaled $800 million last year, Gen. Boutelle reported that 80 percent of the bandwidth to brigade levels is commercial. He added that he would like to see that reversed. The Wideband Gap Filler satellite is essential, and the military “must have” the ultrahigh frequency Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), he declared.

Gen. Boutelle also emphasized the importance of data security, saying “data at rest is data at risk.” He urged immediate full implementation of the Army Gold Master security software—“Lock the systems down,” he commanded. “Don’t be the first one to have a [security breach] happen.”

Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, gives a plenary session address at LandWarNet 2006.
Gen. Boutelle’s remarks about al-Qaida were echoed by Gen. James E. Cartwright, USMC, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command. Speaking at a plenary session immediately following Gen. Boutelle’s address, Gen. Cartwright declared, “Al-Qaida is beating you on ‘My Yahoo.’”

He noted that the military is just a customer on the Internet, which was developed by industry. The Internet is a national interest domain.

“We’re in an age defined more by Moore’s Law than by industrial constructs,” he said. “We’re trying to jam this stuff into an industrial system that is a five- to 10-year construct.”

Gen. Cartwright emphasized the importance of speed in providing vital information to the commander and the warfighter. “Perfect information after the fact is useless,” he declared. “Speed of information is key.” After speed, flexibility is the most important priority, he added. Many networking plans do not survive first contact.

Transformation is a key element of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, and information technology is at the heart of its activities. Lt. Gen. John R. Wood, USA, deputy commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, told the audience at the first day’s luncheon how “the long war” was the focus of the command’s efforts.

The six dimensions of transformation are organizational design, capabilities, processes, authorities, concepts and cultures, the general offered. When something goes wrong, it usually can be pinned to one of these six items.

The command is trying to generate unified action among U.S. military, civilian and international organizations to achieve several goals: rapid capability development, which includes “defining joint before it goes in”; interoperable command and control (C2), which could be attained by patching the seams between operating spaces and all partners; jointly enabled warfighting headquarters; strengthened operations intelligence; better logistics management; and leveraged partnerships among U.S. and international players. The aim is to deliver joint integrated solutions to the warfighter, the general stated.

Gen. Wood added that the command has signed cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs) with four companies, and six more are being reviewed. More than half of those CRADAs have an information technology objective, he pointed out.

A perspective from industry came via Craig Mundie, Microsoft Corporation’s chief research and strategy officer. Mundie focused on security aspects of computing, saying that the lack of trustworthy computer systems could stop adoption of these systems.

He described measures that his company is taking to improve trustworthiness, adding that many of these measures are being engineered from the beginning of operating system development. But, for all aspects of computing, identity is essential for both trust and security, he emphasized, particularly for programs.

The chief research and strategy officer offered a look ahead into the future of computing. He predicted that the biggest leap, which lies just around the corner, will be the ability of machines to talk to each other. This is not artificial intelligence, he said, but instead is a business process that will transform the network.

Computer hardware is on the verge of a paradigm shift, Mundie stated. Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) access speed has not kept up with processor speeds. The only way to eliminate the DRAM bottleneck and allow computers to become faster is for them to become more parallel.

This affects software, too. “The free lunch for traditional software is over,” Mundie declared. The newest faster processing chips no longer are able to run software any faster than their predecessors, so the model for writing software must change. Mundie called for software composition to follow the example of manufactured structures such as aircraft and skyscrapers to be decentralized and resilient. He described this effort as “a potential strategic recapitalization of the computer industry.”

John G. Grimes, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration and U.S. Defense Department chief information officer (CIO), led off the second day of LandWarNet 2006 with a plenary session address. Grimes lauded the cooperation that he has seen among the lieutenant generals and vice admirals throughout the services, but he warned of other personal and cultural challenges to effective network centricity.

For example, he noted that the inspector general (IG) has “inserted himself in our business” with regard to information assurance. Grimes added that he and Lt. Gen. Charles E. Croom Jr., USAF, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), “have had some pretty heated discussions” with the IG about securing information.

The Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) program “is causing a lot of heartburn,” Grimes added. “I told them long ago that somebody is smoking pot if they think they can put 33 waveforms on the same platform.” Grimes said he blames industry for maintaining that this goal could be achieved, and the problems it has spawned have allowed Congress to go after the program.

“Just about all of our space programs” have fallen under the congressional programmatic scrutiny mandated by the Nunn-McCurdy Act, Grimes related. But some programs are going well. Grimes lauded the Transformational Satellite program, and he noted that the Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion (GIG-BE)—which is now the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) Core—came in on time and below budget.

Spectrum management remains a challenge with new problems emerging. Some warfighters show up in theater with radio frequency emitters that are not registered and that actually jam vital equipment such as the Global Positioning System, Grimes charged.

The Defense Department continues to seek new ways of protecting data, he stated, adding that the Army “is way out in front” on demanding public key infrastructure and common access card (PKI/CAC) security. The department is looking at the next generation of identity management, which will feature biometrics.

Members of the panel discussing joint interoperability are (r–l) moderator Brig. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, USA; Maj. Gen. Dennis E. Lutz, USA, commander of the 335th Theater Signal Command; Marlin Forbes, vice president of defense and international services for Verizon Business; Maj. Gen. Michael R. Mazzucchi, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command; and Gerard J. DeMuro, executive vice president for information systems and technology, General Dynamics.
Immediately on the heels of Grimes’ plenary address came a plenary panel discussion on enabling the joint fight, led by Brig. Gen. Randolph P. Strong, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Signal Center. Gen. Strong set the tone for the discussion by noting that the Army Signal Center is truly a joint center that trains service personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

Maj. Gen. Dennis E. Lutz, USA, commander of the 335th Theater Signal Command, described some of the lessons emerging from Iraq. The Joint Network Node has won many fans among the troops, and they want it deployed down to the company level. Blue Force Tracking is another welcome system, but it can be jammed by many improvised explosive device (IED) countermeasures. And, forces never have enough bandwidth.

Maj. Gen. Michael R. Mazzucchi, USA, commanding general of the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), noted that on any given day more than 54,000 contractors are deployed in support of forces worldwide. CECOM is managing billions of dollars worth of contracts to develop or field new technologies to the warfighter as quickly as possible. “We no longer can experiment in the field,” he declared.

Gerard J. DeMuro, executive vice president for information systems and technology, General Dynamics, allowed that warfighters across all the services have become accustomed to using commercial technologies, which is what they want. Network-centric enterprise services must be pulled down, and he called for DISA and the services to establish uniform policies from the top down, not from the bottom up.

Marlin Forbes, vice president of defense and international services for Verizon Business, described how his company helped establish a communications infrastructure in Iraq by airlifting voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) stations into Baghdad along with establishing Global System Mobile cell towers throughout the city. He told the military that his company could reduce its telecommunications bill by 75 percent if it could move usage off satellites and onto fiber, but Iraq is not yet capable of providing the necessary OC-48 connectivity.

Gen. Boutelle returned to address the audience at the event’s AFCEA South Florida Chapter luncheon, where he described the elements of this war that are driving change in the network-centric arena. “This is the clash of two great religions, and it will last,” he said of the global war on terrorism. “The big don’t eat the small anymore. The fast eat the slow.”

Al-Qaida uses the Internet because it must to survive, the general observed. Blogs and instant messaging burned down the Paris suburbs. So the military has many lessons to learn about the management of information as it puts the network together in this new type of war. “But, at the end of the day, we must be able to step back into a campaign-type war,” Gen. Boutelle stated.

Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN, director, command, control, communications and computer systems (J-6), the Joint Staff, gives a Wednesday plenary address.
Joint network-centric operations were the focal point of a following address by Vice Adm. Nancy Brown, USN, director, command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems (J-6), the Joint Staff. Ten years ago, the military lacked bandwidth but did not need to share information outside the force. Now, it has much more bandwidth, but it also has to share data across outside domains. Data has become a community property not possessed by anyone, and sharing it is essential to victory in the war on terrorism.

“We are fighting a war in the information domain, and our enemy is outmaneuvering us in that domain,” she charged. “The information domain is a battlespace, and we have to figure out how to get in front of that enemy who is beating us.”

Problems continue to emerge in ongoing operations. The admiral related one bandwidth conflict in a convoy in Iraq in which a system for countering IEDs conflicted with a radio used for calling for help. Both systems canceled each other out, so the convoy lost both capabilities.

Adm. Brown cited key challenges to achieving joint network operations. They include to clarify and balance roles and responsibilities of C4 stakeholders, to improve joint configuration management and network command and control, and to strengthen information assurance by balancing the securing of networks with ensuring the free flow of information.

The third day of the LandWarNet 2006 conference began with an early morning plenary session by Gen. Croom. The DISA director described some of the security issues facing the agency as it manages network operations. Roughly 70 percent of the GIG travels over the Internet, he noted, and information remains the greatest weapon in the U.S. arsenal.

By July, 85 percent of the network was PKI/CAC compliant, and that number is expected to rise to 95 percent by year’s end. DISA is performing vulnerability assessments to help ensure security compliance. Gen. Croom explained that when violators are uncovered they are given fair warning to change their ways, but if they don’t address the security issues then their nonsecure/secret Internet protocol router network (NIPRNET/ SIPRNET) circuits are closed to them. Very few violators allow themselves to be shut out of the network after they receive warnings, the general added.

Gen. Croom bemoaned the long acquisition time for information technology systems. In many cases, just developing requirements takes from 18 to 24 months. That is counterproductive with a technology that improves even more rapidly, and reducing or eliminating that lag is vital. “Don’t give me requirements that are too detailed and specific,” he cautioned. “Stay with broad statements of capabilities.” This will reduce system acquisition time and provide badly needed program flexibility.

The conference’s final speaker was Gen. William S. Wallace, USA, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, or TRADOC. Calling TRADOC “the architect of the Army,” Gen. Wallace provided his own assessment of the war on terrorism and what it may take to win it.

The enemy is using information technology to its advantage. The general stated that terrorists know how to use commercial networks better than the U.S. military does; they pass tactics, techniques and procedures across networks without worrying about satellite connectivity or other issues; they use commercial encryption; and they understand information operations better than anyone in the world, where they are uninhibited by the need to tell the truth.

“They don’t play by the rules, and they break their own,” the general said. “They have gone to school on the U.S. Army, and their lethality is going up. They are tough fighters who do what their leaders tell them.”

Defeating this adaptable foe will require a rapidly deployable maneuver force and joint networked forces all linked—including allies—with sensors and other elements. The force must have assured access to the network at the onset of and throughout an operation. “The bridge cannot be built while we’re walking on it—it must be in place,” he stated.

Gen. Wallace offered that the Army’s top priorities are to expand SIPRNET access across the Army; to plan, coordinate and implement enterprise solutions so that individual commanders “don’t buy their Gucci stuff that doesn’t work across the whole Army”; and to effectively leverage distance and distributed learning. Another need is a resourced single director of information management (DOIM) action plan. “A single DOIM plan won’t work if we can’t provide the resources and manpower,” Gen. Wallace said.

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