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Retaining the Edge on Current and Future Battlefields
Prepared remarks by Emmett Paige Jr., assistant secretary of defense for command, control, communications and intellige, the Fort Bragg chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Fayetteville, Tuesday, August 22, 1995

Thank you. ...Open forums like this are very necessary and important. They encourage the kind of interfaces and exchanges we need between government and industry professionals who are obviously concerned about and dedicated to ensuring the forces of our great nation retain their technological edge on current and future battlefields.

Government and industry have a long and successful history of meeting the challenges of competitive global modernization. Our teamwork efforts must continue, perhaps with even more vigor than ever before, as the worldwide pre-eminence of America's defense posture becomes increasingly reliant, particularly on how aggressively and successfully we meet the infosphere demands of the 21st century.

We all must support President Clinton's pledge to keep our armed forces as the best equipped, best trained, best led and best prepared fighting forces on the face of the Earth. It is also our added goal to provide the means to ensure these forces have the best informed battle captains and warriors on any battlefield. Cooperation between industry and government is essential in accomplishing this goal.

In defense, there is clearly increased reliance on the commercial marketplace to meet the rapidly changing technological and modernization demands within the C4I [command, control, communications and intelligence] realm. However, I would submit that it is not just the technical innovations and applications that are important from the commercial sector -- it is also the creativity, forward thinking, R&D [research and development] infrastructure, and planning and management energies we find within our industry teams that often give us the edge in resolving complex modernization issues.

As I said at the start, you are an audience of professionals concerned with our country's national security and defense. I thank you all now for your dedication and commitment to this cause.

Today, I wish to share with you my views on some of the C4I challenges we face to support today's warrior and the war-fighter 2000, the changes precipitating these challenges, and our vision and road map to meet them.

As the memories of the Cold War continue to fade, we are confronted by the stark realities of a global environment plagued with a new range and variety of threats likely to pose significant challenges for us well into the 21st century. Regional conflicts, such as the seven-month Persian Gulf episode and the current civil war in Bosnia, are recent examples of threats to regional peace and stability.

The proliferation of nuclear, biological, chemical and conventional weapons throughout the world is at an unprecedented pace. These capabilities are also potentially available to countries we would never have thought interested, let alone capable, a decade ago.

Similarly, precision and standoff weapons are becoming significant players in modern warfare, and they are also proliferating globally. Information warfare is moving to the forefront of modern war-fighting in ways we have seldom thought about in the past.

A wider spectrum of contingencies, including operations other than war, such as humanitarian and peacekeeping missions, has changed the way in which our forces may be employed throughout the world. New operational locations and environments require us to think about new ways to deploy and employ forces. War-fighting concepts of operation and doctrine are changing in both scope and nature. Integrated joint and coalition warfare are becoming the quintessential way of doing business.

The Department of Defense is reshaping and refocusing itself to handle all these changes, but the challenges are great. From a C4I perspective, our abilities to operate in multiple scenarios on a global basis, against varied, highly capable threats, remain constrained not only because of military communications capacity, mobility and connectivity, but because each contingency presents distinctly different problems for our forces.

Against the backdrop of an uncertain global environment and evolving technologies we find ourselves driven to relook missions, doctrine and required capabilities on a more frequent basis. At the same time, we must contend with a shrinking defense budget, the downsizing of our forces, slowed acquisitions and older systems in our inventories, which must somehow be modified to new uses.

DoD and industry are not alone in their movement into the information age. Many nations and businesses are experiencing a plethora of technological transitions. Information market competition is enormous. Despite technological advances, it is often the product of desperation to survive in a tough market. Competing vendors often inject proprietary designs in their products without regard to interoperability standards, which then render them incompatible with other network components. Competition among firms developing similar technologies is fierce.

A potential buyer or user must proceed with caution and assess carefully all the vendor-sponsored trade journal articles and marketing brochures. The proof of a product is realized only upon its demonstrated performance when put to use.

As we examine these changes, it becomes apparent that warfare in the 21st century will also continue to change drastically. The capabilities of the weapons will extend the battle space. The actions required to execute the assigned missions will be more real-time in nature and nonlinear.

The extension of the battlefield across seamless lines, both vertically and horizontally, will be the new way of defining how we function. The 21st century battles will be fluid and dynamic beyond anything we have ever seen. These are some of the critical new realities facing C4I.

Global command and control is upon us with lightning speed, and we must fulfill a very complex and comprehensive set of new operational needs. We must also change more rapidly than we have ever done before. How then do we meet these challenges?

C4I enters into the 21st century through the C4I for the Warrior concept. First articulated in 1992 by the Joint Staff, it specifies the war-fighters' requirement for a global, seamless system where information can be accessed when needed and in the amount and type to satisfy the users' needs. This is our vision for meeting the challenges of the next century.

I am committed and focused on this concept. We must be a functionally common, integrated and interoperable force. This extends from warrior terminal through warrior battle space to the infosphere. Warriors must have information they can use, when needed and in a form that makes them efficient and effective under all warfighting circumstances and at all levels of command.

We can ill afford to slowly evolve to new ways of doing business. As I've noted, the threats and vulnerabilities we face won't allow it. The U.S. must be the first to achieve dramatic changes and improvements in war-fighting that will result in dominative battle space awareness or knowledge. What does that mean? We are moving away from cumbersome and linear techniques for precision strike and moving toward effective, timely, innovative sensor-to-shooter methods.

To bring this vision to reality, there are a number of emerging technologies that must come to fruition. The first are displays that can provide war-fighters a shared situational awareness and common understanding of the battle space. These displays must meet a myriad of warrior requirements across the continuum of military operations and can be divided into three categories: public, cockpit and heads-up. These displays will depend on advanced computer hardware, capable of high-speed graphic simulations necessary to bring the picture on the display to life.

These computers must also be capable of large data base manipulations to provide information about the various aspects of the battle space. For example: displaying different aspects of the terrain in various settings from traditional maps to 3-D maps to virtual reality renditions. Information about terrain will be augmented with information about the forces moving on it.

The warrior will also require the capability to gather information from a variety of distributed, worldwide data bases. These data bases, coupled with knowledge tools, will provide war-fighters with information needed for understanding what each depiction of the enemy and situation represents. To bring these displays to life, we require a family of sensors with automatic target recognition and networks to support timely reporting. Space, air, ground and seaborne sensor systems must report as one coherent, integrated system if the war-fighter is to have the best possible view and understanding of the battle space.

A common operating environment is essential to this concept. The warrior must have common data elements, language, structure, symbols, objects and processing in the information and intelligence he is receiving. The situational awareness we create with C4I must be shared. More importantly, it must give the warrior accurate, timely and usable information about his battle space. Further, it must not overwhelm or deter war-fighters from the conduct of their missions. It must be the right information at the right time in the right place in the right amount.

The Defense Information Infrastructure provides the means to achieve the C4I for the Warrior vision. Version II of the DII master plan was distributed in March of this year. It reflects the collective strategy of DoD components for empowering the war-fighter with information capabilities to achieve mission success.

The vision for the DII is of a widely distributed user-driven infrastructure into which the warrior can gain access from any location for all required information. The DII infrastructure must be highly responsive to new joint and coalition organizational relationships. What the warrior will see from the DII is a fused, real-time, true representation of the three-dimensional battle space.

I should point out that the DII is the subset of the National Information Infrastructure that meets the global needs of the war-fighter. The DII provides the interfaces for DoD customers to communicate with other sources in the NII and to U.S. allies.

Our first attempt to achieve the DII is with the Global Command and Control System. It will be a realization of the Joint Staff's C4I for the Warrior concept. GCCS will provide the means to interface the C4I systems of the combatant commands, services and other agencies. It will improve the joint war-fighter's ability to manage and execute operations from crisis and contingency actions to full-blown conflicts.

Operational requirements and the effects of rapidly changing technology have been carefully crafted into the first operational version of GCCS, which will be in place this year. It is based on state-of-the-art, open-systems principles with the ability to rapidly incorporate ever-increasing functionality and new technology into future iterations. This infrastructure is absolutely necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

As we enter the 21st century, the important task of eliminating duplicate and redundant systems in the C4I area will be well under way. It is a known fact that DoD still has a sizable inventory of C4I systems which are legacy in nature and stovepiped in function, as they do not interoperate with other systems. In October 1993, then-Deputy Secretary of Defense (William J.) Perry imposed a three-year deadline to minimize the number of duplicative DoD information support systems and make the remaining migration set interoperable.

We are doing this through a plan which has identified those systems we want to move forward and those which should be eliminated at the earliest opportunity. These systems, which the services and Joint Staff have decided are at the core of our functional war-fighting capability and those around which we intend to build our future C4I system architecture, are designated as migration systems. Those which are duplicative of migration systems or whose functions are planned for inclusion elsewhere are designated as legacy systems.

The bottom line is that we do not intend to invest further resources in the latter. During our initial efforts in C3 [command, control and communications] migration, we quickly determined that a road map for this effort was required. The first order of business was to select GCCS as the objective migration system for all command and control systems.

Our next step was to define the common operating environment for the GCCS. This is the objective COE for C4I systems of all the CinCs [commanders in chief] and services. We are now involved with the complex task of identifying the legacy and migration systems associated with C3, intelligence and information system functions. In the C3 functional area, 48 systems are designated as migration systems. We have identified 97 others as legacy systems. In the intelligence area, we identified 48 out of 688 systems for migration.

Dr. Perry's June 29, 1994, memorandum on specifications and standards moved DoD toward the use of commercial products and technology. This policy emphasized the use of performance specifications, nongovernment standards and commercial off-the-shelf software in lieu of military specifications and standards.

We anticipate that these initiatives will result in increased efficiencies and significant savings. However, let me emphasize several points. First, although more and more of our C4I systems will be commercially based, there may always be a need for some military-unique systems. Second, we are looking to buy products with open interface standards, not proprietary ones. Finally, some technological innovations pose increased threats to our secure communications if placed in the wrong hands. Trusted operating systems, and in particular multilevel secure systems, continue to be an area where advanced technology is needed.

Several recent studies, including the Defense Science Board 1994 summer study on information architecture for the battlefield, recommend the use of prototypes as an alternative to full system development. This gives us the chance to incorporate the latest technology improvements as we build systems.

A major undertaking is the annual Joint War-fighter Interoperability Demonstrations Program. This effort crosses functional and organizational boundaries. My staff, the joint staff, DISA [Defense Information Systems Agency], services and other defense agencies, as well as many commercial enterprises, are actively participating in these demonstrations this year. Both the planning for these events and the results from them will influence the development and acquisition of war-fighter systems.

We have been burned in the past by the acquisition of vendor proprietary systems that represented the best value for the money at the time, but whose upgrades proved too costly as time and technology advanced. We have learned our lesson -- standardize the interfaces, using commercial standards whenever possible to create a systems environment in which individual creativity can flourish, so the component software (and hardware) systems can rapidly evolve and be integrated into a stable matrix of interoperable systems at minimum cost and downtime.

Users, and I mean war-fighters, should train as they fight and fight as they train. This means that the future systems should look the same in garrison as they look in the field. Systems should have the same look and feel across platforms and applications and should be easily maintainable. Again, this means adherence to standards. Our systems need to communicate using open-system standards. Our systems must be able to transfer data using these standards. Finally, future technologies need to be engineered so that hardware and software are tailorable and adaptable to different and changing war-fighter needs.

We are in a complex business which requires some finely tuned strategies designed to build integrated architectures which define and select the best options for satisfying our vision's objectives. Within C4I I've focused our architecture efforts in the C4I Integrated Support Activity.

As you know, there is no scarcity of architectures in either industry or defense. The key to architecture success is integration, not proliferation. This is an area where we can work together to ensure that the designs and tradeoffs for systems developers throughout the C4I communities can be identified early for overarching architecture integration, resulting in maximum system of systems efficiencies and cost savings.

Let me close by reiterating my commitment to ensuring C4I is responsive to the needs of the 21st century war-fighters. The challenges are out there, but so are the opportunities to do great and smart things. I am decisively engaged in and dedicated to this mission, as I'm sure you are.

Thank you for your time and attention.


Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the 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