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Joint Staff Upgrades Global Command and Control

By Staff Sgt. Lee Roberts, USAF
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 1996 – The Joint Staff is making use of new technology to command and control.

The Worldwide Military Command and Control System, a computer network used since the early 1970s, was permanently replaced Aug. 30 by the Global Command and Control System. The new system proved itself capable for operations during extensive testing by the Joint Staff, unified combatant commanders, the Defense Information Systems Agency and each service in the months leading up to its implementation.

Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, lauded the new command and control system, especially its potential to meet future requirements. The general said the new system, a secure internet providing combatant commanders and subordinate joint force commanders one predominant source for generating, receiving, sharing and using information, will help evolve joint warfighting into the 21st century.

Navy Cmdr. Rick Doran of the Joint Staff Operations Directorate's Command and Control Systems Branch said the new system is not only a replacement, but also allows units from all services to communicate in a network that has virtually unlimited capabilities.

Doran said the Global Command and Control System gives individuals and commanders like Shalikashvili "point and click" access to secure information like the strategic movement of forces, employment of forces, intelligence briefings and e-mail.

As usage increases, the system will slowly evolve and incorporate other missions and tasks, Doran said. An example is to eventually add deployment and execution orders currently transmitted via the AUTODIN message system.

"I think the best way to visualize it is to look at the Internet right now," Doran said. "The Internet (initially started as Arpanet within DoD) expanded to the World Wide Web, and then people started putting their homepages all over the place. Now it seems every week or month a new product or new information is available. We have the same kind of technology here available to us."

Developing and fielding the system involved putting hardware and software in place with forces around the world," Doran said. Now that the Global Command and Control System is on line operators will continue to evolve the system and maintain it, he said.

Marine Lt. Gen. Pete Pace, Joint Staff Operations director, is primarily responsible for the new system. The Operations Directorate's Global Command and Control Branch oversees the system for the general, ensuring it remains focused on the needs of combatant commanders and operations personnel. Doran said the Operations Directorate also works closely with the Defense Information Systems Agency, which implements systems and software, and with the Command, Control, Communications, and Computer Systems Directorate, which provides technical oversight.

"We oversee policy and requirements for the system," Doran said. "We represent the operators and work to ensure the system meets their needs. The staff is made up of people with warfighting experience representing all services."

Officials said they believe scrapping the old system will spur big savings in reduced maintenance costs. "Improved reliability will further reduce costs," Doran noted.

Doran calls the new command and control system amazing. "We used to send out weekly faxes because that was the only way we had to communicate," he said. "Now we're here and we've got this whole network in place. It's going to be an interesting future. This system is going to be able to move more information rapidly. It will be interesting to see what GCCS evolves to."

(Roberts writes for the public affairs office, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.)

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