Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 16-- Six Emerging Trends in Information Management
Good morning. ... The topic of this symposium, "Information Management for the Warfighter," I believe should be the assumed nature of all information systems for the Department of Defense. It may be that our warfighters are being called upon to be peacekeepers, but peace is only enforceable when backed by the clout of warfighting capabilities.
As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us in his letter from the Birmingham jail, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Indeed, in peacekeeping and humanitarian relief, as well as in warfighting, our nation's capabilities must be second to none.
This means that we must maintain our edge in weaponry, in training, in motivation and in technology.
As we track our progress in Bosnia -- and information on that progress is openly and readily available to everyone through DoD's BosniaLINK on the Internet -- we are reminded of the fortitude and dedication of our men and women in the field.
The Internet was also the medium in December for the wide dissemination of a poem about Santa Claus being reminded that he was safe to deliver gifts because of the American military presence around the globe.
The Internet is a prime example of technology research funded and fostered by the Department of Defense that has come to have massive payback to all aspects of our society. The idea started in the 1960s with the intent of having a computer communications network that would have no single point of failure.
In 1969, the ARPANET [Advanced Research Projects Agency network] was begun by DoD for research in data networking. It began with four nodes, all of which were within the research realm. Now the number of users totals in the millions, and yet the Internet is still seen as being in its infancy.
Industry and entrepreneurs are running with the ball, but we didn't get to this point by just following the philosophy of letting a thousand flowers bloom. It started with a vision that at the time seemed far-fetched or of limited use.
President Clinton recently released a white paper detailing how investments in technology drive economic growth, generate new knowledge, create new jobs and improve our quality of life. He also emphasized that advances in technology are essential to sustaining our national security. It is these national security aspects that I would like for us to keep uppermost in our minds today -- and throughout this symposium -- and into the future.
As we do our planning for the future of our nation's security, we in the DoD and industry must be both practical people and dreamers at the same time. While we in DoD must do rigorous analyses of our requirements and mission needs, we must also envision defensive and offensive capabilities that do not exist but that we believe are attainable. And we must do this in these times of austere resource levels to operate our government.
I would like to cover with you today some of the future capabilities in the information systems arena that have been identified as focus areas. These are areas that we believe should be exploited to our future national security strategies.
Our warfighters need to be able to maintain near-perfect, real-time knowledge of an adversary and to communicate that knowledge to all forces in near-real time. Note that I did not say deliver the information. I said communicate.
This means we must not only have the mechanisms to obtain, assimilate and distribute information, we must have the ability to filter it according to the recipients' needs. And we must be able to discern which information and intelligence must be made most readily available to which combatants or potential combatants.
We must have all our forces and coalition partners share information with great ease, but this information must be secure, timely and accurate. We are placing higher priority on our information security initiatives, and this increased emphasis is shown in our increases in funding levels for these programs for the immediate and foreseeable future.
Protection of information is a high priority, and so is harmonization. We have set into motion the mechanism to establish a single, unifying DoD technical architecture that will become binding on all future DoD C4I [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] acquisitions and development efforts.
We are having to move away from our legacy of dissimilar systems and architectures. We need to have systems that are born joint and interoperable. Our architecture working groups are setting up the genetic blueprints for those new systems.
The need for interoperability and integration of C4I capabilities, along with those for surveillance and reconnaissance, are recognized at the highest levels of the department. In October 1995, the deputy secretary of defense directed the establishment of a DoD-wide C4I integrated product team. C3I [command, control, communications and intelligence] is the sponsor, organizer and manager of the effort.
The effort has evolved to become the C4ISR [surveillence and reconnaissance] integration task force and has already produced results in identifying proposals that are "low-hanging fruit." Most notable of these are the C4ISR decision support center and the complementary joint C4ISR battle center.
Efforts such as these can be best understood within the context of overall defense planning. The director of the joint staff, in December 1995, forwarded to the secretary of defense a joint planning document that identifies warfighting capabilities needed for the future and for related R&D [research and development] initiatives.
It identified 12 emerging trends for achieving future joint warfighting objectives. Of the 12, half of these are information system capabilities. These are:
- Dominant battlespace knowledge. This requires the totality of C4ISR capabilities to work together in a seamless fashion to acquire and assimilate information needed to dominate and neutralize adversary forces.
- The next is precision force. This capability to destroy selected targets with precision -- yet limiting collateral damage to the fullest extent possible -- requires advances in sensor guidance and control. Additionally, sensor-to-shooter C4I enhancements are necessary for responsive, timely force application.
- A key capability that must be enhanced is combat identification. We must have the capability for assured, reliable identification, friend or foe. These decisions must be made quickly enough to do good and not so quickly as to do harm. This thorny issue has been around as long as there have been combatants.
- This brings us to electronic warfare. This includes capabilities for deceiving or disrupting, as well as destroying, the surveillance and command control systems that go along with an opponent's weapons.
- Information warfare is another leading, emerging trend. This is both offensive and defensive. We must have the ability to affect adversary information and their information systems, while leveraging and protecting our own information and information systems.
- Another important emerging trend is for real-time logistics control. This is an information window into the innermost workings of the entire logistics support structure. It includes both total asset visibility across service and agency lines and in-transit visibility throughout all forms of transportation.
We must bring all these capabilities together, so we will pursue the global command control system as our core C2 [command and control] capability for the 21st century. We will continue to build the Defense Information Systems Network, the Defense Messaging System and MILSTAR [Military Strategic and Tactical Relay System] programs.
We must also turn to the commercial sector for many vital information capabilities: selected satellite capabilities; mobile, personal communications services; and the commercial global fiber grid.
The expansion of DoD's use of commercial assets and capabilities was well articulated by the commission on roles and missions of the armed forces.
The commission pointed out, and I staunchly agree, that outsourcing is a valuable tool to refocus our attention and resources on our core competencies, increase efficiencies, save money and enhance effectiveness. There are many companies out there who have a longstanding, excellent reputation for providing information processing services in a cost-effective, reliable manner. Couple this with my views that:
- Our data centers do not have a compelling need to be operated and maintained by military or civil servants;
- In-house O&M [operations and maintenance] is not necessary for national defense; and
- We would very likely achieve significant savings if these operations were contracted out.
I firmly believe that many of our data center operations can and should be outsourced, I am doing everything I can to make this a reality. Prior to the commission's recommendation on outsourcing data center operations, I requested that the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency conduct a study, focusing on the 16 defense megacenters that are owned and operated by DISA. We just received a report of the results of the study, and we are currently reviewing these results in conjunction with DISA.
Let me now turn your attention to software. I am a strong advocate for the use of commercial, off-the-shelf software. Why? Because it makes good business sense and common sense to use COTS software.
Simply put, we will use COTS software, whenever it exists, to satisfy DoD requirements. However, it must indeed be a commercial product already in use, with a proven track record and a market demand.
In those cases where no COTS solution exists and DoD must develop new codes for which we are responsible for life-cycle maintenance and support, we will write it in ADA. This includes the code for interfacing among COTS packages and for interfacing among systems supporting various defense functions. This policy applies to all -- let me repeat, all -- software-driven systems regardless of functions supported.
As you can see from all the information-related capabilities that are deemed to be crucial to our nation's defense, we cannot afford to squander resources on software that are not interoperable or are unreliable.
We must proceed with all due haste, but we must proceed methodically. President Truman told us, "Patience must be our watchword if we are to have world peace." Patience must also be our watchword if we are to have interoperable, seamless, robust C4 capabilities for all of our peacekeepers and warfighters.
We must work together for results. This is especially true for information management programs, where there is all too often the urge to charge individually ahead of the pack, rather than work cooperatively toward a more solid and lasting foundation for all programs concerned.
We have accomplished much together already. We have re-engineered many processes away from service-unique stovepipes to being truly joint. But we are just scratching the surface on what can be done. We are just at the beginning of exploiting information systems for our warfighers.
I thank you for your kind attention this morning. I would be glad to entertain your questions.
Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html.