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Striving for Information Superiority
Prepared Remarks of Emmett Paige Jr., assistant defense secretary for command, control, communications and intelligence, 311th Theater Signal Command Activation Dinner, Fort Meade, Md., , Saturday, June 22, 1996

Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 72-- Striving for Information Superiority Defense must rely more on commercial or dual-use products and the rapid insertion of new commercial leading-edge technology into C3 systems.


Volume 11, Number 72

Striving for Information Superiority

Prepared remarks by Emmett Paige Jr., assistant defense secretary for command, control, communications and intelligence, to the 311th Theater Signal Command Activation Dinner, Fort Meade, Md., June 22, 1996.

It is a pleasure to be with you this evening. ... I am an old soldier and communicator, and I am particularly fond of gatherings like this. I especially enjoy being with the families and close friends of the 311th Theater Signal Command.

First, let me restate the obvious: The only thing permanent is change. This is particularly evident by the activation of the 311th. People come, people go, but what never changes with the 311th is the dedication, talent, can-do attitude and the true sense that no matter what the obstacle, we can get the job done.

Before I tell you of exciting things happening in the command, control and communications, or C3, business, let me explain to the family and friends what the men and women of the 311th are responsible for. I'm sure a lot of you know it is communications, but let me try to compare it with what you use today. They are in fact the military's AT&T, Sprint, MCI, Microsoft, cable provider, Internet provider and lots more all rolled into one. They provide telephones, video teleconferences, cellular telephones, e-mail and computer network access.

Every communications capability you use every day is done better and with a little twist. They do it on short notice anywhere and everywhere in the world. They install, operate, maintain and provide network management services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when called upon and they provide it in a secure environment. They do it in the coldest mountains of Korea to the hottest tropical locations in the Pacific.

Just like most of us take for granted the communications services we enjoy in our everyday lives, for the most part what they do is taken for granted by the customer, the warfighter. However, one trait of human nature does not change when something stops working: We want to raise Cain with somebody, be it the local phone company, the Internet access provider or in this case, the signaleer. So with that clarification for you, let me begin by saying that the overarching command, control and communications goal is to establish and maintain information superiority for the Department of Defense in support of military operations and the national security of the United States.

Before discussing ongoing C3 efforts, it is important to reflect on our environment. The world is changing in many ways, at a breathtaking pace. At the same time, the defense budget has been steadily shrinking. While the resources available to us have always been constrained, the tightness of these constraints has increased. For example, the United States military is currently participating in ongoing contingencies around the world which are consuming 20 percent of our optempo [operations tempo] funds, increasingly constraining our training and other readiness. Our future C3 must reflect these resource constraints.

Technology has changed, too. Many of the leading-edge technologies that are critical to success on future battlefields are now driven by commercial markets. Defense must rely more on commercial or dual-use products and the rapid insertion of new commercial leading-edge technology into C3 systems. This strategy will reduce the cost of providing information services while increasing U.S. global competitiveness in information technologies.

The Department of Defense is evolving into a lean, mobile, capable, flexible force, one that can project power or provide assistance anywhere in the world. National strategic policy requires that the DoD support peacetime activities plus two nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts.

National defense strategies envision power projection by highly flexible, rapid response, tailored force packages, under the joint task force or the combined joint task force command. These force packages will support a spectrum of military/political responses to promote national interests worldwide. Joint forces (including units like the 311th) must react on short notice, and they must perform their missions well.

Warfighters expect and demand more information to perform their missions. They must rely on information as a force multiplier, as the DoD is called upon to respond ever more quickly. We must be able to gather intelligence, know what the capabilities of our forces are at any moment and model scenarios of combat electronically. In this way, we can select the strategy, weapons and force mix that will give us the maximum advantage at the minimum loss of life for our own or coalition forces.

Weapon system advantage is not enough. It is vitally important to have the proper information and a rapid responsive command and control system to direct the weapons to their targets. Weapons systems, no matter how revolutionary, cannot fulfill their potential if they are employed based on untimely information.

Recognizing the need for better and more accurate and timely information to the warfighter. Consequently, we made the decision to combine C3, information security and information management and technology under the singular control of the deputy assistant secretary of defense for C3.

We must strive for information superiority over any opponent through more rapid gathering, assimilation and transmission of data as close as possible to the source, with minimal human intervention. In a conflict situation, timing and accuracy of information are paramount. The ability to transmit and receive information consistently and accurately means the difference between success or failure, hit or a miss, or death. Our years of research and development of precision-targeted weapons would all be for naught without the right information.

The sheer volume of information is something that can interfere with the commander's ability to use it. Achieving true information superiority must involve the ability to distill germane information from an avalanche of data. We will not have produced and delivered quality information for our warfighters, unless it is what they need, when they need it and in a form that they can immediately use.

I will now describe for you some key initiatives and the information infrastructure needed for all our missions. I will also discuss changes that are occurring both within and outside the department to improve our process for acquiring information technology. These changes will result in faster and easier acquisition of information resources.

The C4I [command, control, communications, computers and intelligence] for the Warrior concept was developed by the Joint Staff and approved by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to ensure interoperability among all of our forces in times of crisis. The essence of C4I for the Warrior is to provide a fused, real-time, true picture of the battlespace and the ability to order, respond and coordinate vertically and horizontally to execute the mission in that battlespace.

The Defense Information Infrastructure, or DII, provides the means to achieve our vision of timely, accurate information flow to the warrior. The DII is not a single program, but a management initiative to integrate individual C2 [command and control] and mission support information systems and the communications and computer infrastructure programs within the DoD so that more capable, efficient and interoperable services are provided to the warfighter and his support organizations.

Since the DII is a subset of the NII [National Information Infrastructure], communications with sources outside DoD and with our allies will be possible. Within the DII, the Global Command and Control System, or GCCS, initiative will result in a unified command and control system for use by the military departments. GCCS will displace the Worldwide Military Command and Control System hopefully next month. The functionality of GCCS will grow to serve current and future needs of the warfighting commanders.

The underpinning of GCCS is a common operating environment, or COE, that promotes interoperability among all of the services and agencies [and] enables them to share common communications, applications and information. GCCS is being developed in an evolutionary manner with maximum user involvement. The COE supports standard application program interfaces to the full range of command and control applications. GCCS is on the third version of its COE, with a goal of providing yearly software releases.

The Global Combat Support System, or GCSS, initiative does for combat support what GCCS does for C2. GCSS will permit information flow across defense component combat support systems, and with combat areas. The concept of the GCSS is that mission support computing and communication capabilities will be integrated from the desktop to the mainframe and from the sustaining base to the deployed units.

GCSS has a strong mission focus and an effective technical strategy. It builds on the technical developments, products, procedures and integration strategies employed in GCSS.

At the center of the GCSS is the COE and the common data environment and include two main thrusts under GCSS. First is the integration of applications, such as logistics, personnel and medical, into the GCSS. These will include commercial off-the-shelf and government off-the-shelf. Second are the technical integration thrusts, including the backbone communications, the electronic commerce/electronic data interchange infrastructure for the federal government, and implementation of the common operating and shared data environments.

Communications is the foundation to successful information flow to the warfighter. The Defense Information Systems Network, or DISN, is DoD's consolidated worldwide enterprise-level telecommunications infrastructure. It will provide voice, text and imagery transport services when and where needed. Acquisition for support services, switched services and band width management, transmission and video are in progress today.

The department continues enhancing tactical communications to provide secure, survivable and interoperable systems for joint and combined operations of conventional forces. Acquisition of new tactical communications systems continues, such as the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System for which DoD has approved a second full-rate production source.

For those of you that may still be using the obsolete VRC-12 series radio -- hang on, help is on the way. [Army] Lt. Gen. Otto Guenther [director of information systems for command, control, communications and computers] received the 100,000th radio from the prime contractor, ITT [International Telephone and Telegraph Corp.] on May 30. Rest assured that my office will resist any attempt to modify our goal of fielding SINCGARS to the total force -- all force packages 1, 2 and 3.

Let me now tell you about one of our key value added services effort, the Defense Message System, or DMS. The DMS contract is on track for a July 1996 IOC [initial operational capability]. It will provide a secure, accountable, writer-to-reader messaging capability, the messaging component of the DII COE. DMS will replace the existing AUTODIN [Automatic Digital Network] system which has been in use since the early 1960s.

I would now like to tell you where we are with our program to select and implement migration systems, achieve data standardization, and improve business processes. These efforts are key to our GCSS initiative, and they will greatly reduce DoD's annual operations cost. DoD has identified 1,849 information systems or applications, from which the functional community has selected 247 as migration systems or applications. We project elimination of 1,079 of these legacy systems by the year 2000. In addition, DoD has approved over 10,000 data standards and is doing intensive work to improve the quality of data.

We have accomplished much by eliminating a number of obsolete programs, but more remains. We must finalize our selection of migration systems and turn off legacy systems for mission support activities such as logistics, personnel, procurement and finance.

Reducing the number of legacy systems is critical for solving the Year 2000 problem. Millions of lines of code must be searched and thousands of programs and databases must be changed to accommodate more than two digits to represent the year data element. Otherwise, most of these systems will not work or will generate faulty information. Some systems have already failed. This problem affects weapon systems as well as AISS [Automated Information Support Systems]. We estimate that 1 [percent to] 5 percent of DoD code is affected.

Dependence on an unprotected DII creates vulnerabilities and operational readiness risks. The security of information systems and networks is one of the major challenges for DoD in this decade and beyond. A multilevel secure system is essential and will be available from the network to the desktop. The information security initiatives for DISN and DMS have received strong support during high-level funding reviews.

I hope I have given you some insights into our vision of C4I for the warrior and the support infrastructure that is being planned to provide command control and combat support.

Before I close, let me assure you that this administration views a mission-ready National Guard and Reserve as an essential part of our post-Cold War strategy. As a result, reservists will play an expanded role in war and peace. While we ask our people to do more, we will not lose sight of the need to balance a reservist's commitment to country with his or her commitment to family and their civilian employer.

Promoting increased peacetime use of the reserve component by capitalizing on training resources and opportunities in the U.S. and overseas is a win-win proposition. Real-world mission requirements overseas for the CinCs [commanders in chief] and services generates valuable training.

I thank you again for inviting me to be with you this evening my best wishes to all of you. God bless you, and God bless America.


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