Remarks by the Deputy Secretary of Defense
The Honorable Gordon R. England
MILCOM 2006 Conference
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel
25 October 2006
Thank you Dave [Major General (ret) Bryan] for the warm introduction… It is delightful to be with you all today. I congratulate the organizers - you have done a marvelous job all these years. Congratulations to all of you on the Silver Anniversary of this event!
At the very beginning – I do want to recognize a few people, from the senior leadership of the Department of Defense – especially John Grimes, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration. A few days ago, I went to a special event at the Army Navy Club. He was given an award by the Russian Technical Expert Delegation – did I get that right, John? – who came from the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense. They gave him a medal for a lifetime of dedication to US/ Russian communications – the hotline we’ve had all these years. They gave him paintings, plaques, accolades, and even a sword, and John – you richly deserved all of it! Thank you for the great job you do for the Department of Defense and the Nation.
Also, Lt. Gen. Charlie Croom is here today. He heads up the Defense Information Systems Agency, and he, too, is providing important leadership. Also, LTG Steve Boutelle, the G6 and Chief Information Officer of the Army is here. Thank you for everything you do, wearing the uniform of our Nation – thank you for what you do.
Now this is an organization that I can personally relate to. It’s been a fascinating 45 years since I graduated with a BSEE in 1961. My career has literally encompassed the entire micro-electronics generation. In my senior year of college, the university offered, for the very first time, a transistor course. Literally, a transistor. This was about a decade after the first practical, point-contact transistors were built at Bell labs. Even though I’m pretty old, it’s still an extraordinarily short period of time for all the micro-electronic changes that have happened since then – especially in area of net-centric design.
I’m not a designer any longer but I still have a keen interest in net-centricity – since it’s the backbone of everything we do in the Department. On behalf of all Service members who wear the uniform of this Nation and put their lives on the line every day, I do thank you all for your leadership and innovation, and what you do every day to provide capabilities to the warfighter, at a time when our Nation faces multiple threats.
In these early days of the 21st century, America and our friends and allies face a much, much broader array of challenges and greater uncertainty than ever before.
Now, for the Department of Defense, the top priority is the war on terror. Terrorists are determined to destroy our very way of life – and of all who love freedom and liberty.
This is an adversary that cannot challenge us with conventional methods, so he makes full use of asymmetrical and irregular approaches. Terrorists hide themselves among civilian populations, they target civilians directly, they target the economic infrastructure that supports developed civilizations, and they disdain and despise the international laws of war.
And terrorists are technologically very savvy – they adapt to new conditions extraordinarily quickly. Though they aim to undo centuries’ worth of progress, they are not at all reluctant to take full advantage of that progress. They use the latest technological innovations to communicate, recruit, and transfer money. They keep websites, and they update them in real time, to share their lessons learned.
The very technologies that you develop and the technologies that make globalization possible are used by terrorists throughout the world against freedom-loving nations. In fact, they have it much easier, since late-comers can take a short-cut. To use cutting edge technology, it’s no longer necessary to study for years and complete a Ph.D. – nowadays you can now just download almost any technology from the Internet.
Globalization is creating vast new opportunities for economic growth, and it’s extending the marketplace of ideas. But at the same time, all of those opportunities and ideas are equally available to our adversaries. The challenges of rapid technological change, and the ways that change might be abused, face all of us – the United States, and all of our friends and allies around the world. This is the fundamental technical and operational challenge of our time.
International terrorism is absolutely ruthless, and no one – no nation – is immune. As the President said a few weeks ago, this is a struggle “that will set the course for this new century, and determine the destiny of millions around the world.” This is the fundamental strategic challenge of our time.
At the same time, renegade states still have the ability to do great harm with weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is carrying out nuclear detonations, Iran is seeking nuclear weapons capabilities under the guise of a peaceful nuclear power program, and both countries continue to threaten their neighbors.
Meanwhile – there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the future path that major states, with highly sophisticated capabilities, will choose. The choices that countries like China make will have a profound impact on regional and global security.
To help meet the broad array of 21st century security challenges, the Department of Defense launched an ongoing process of long-term transformation and adaptation back in 2001, that culminated in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review.
The 2006 QDR was the most inclusive review process this Department has ever carried out. It was chaired by myself and my very good friend, who spoke with you this morning, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - Admiral Giambastiani. Several times a week, for hours at a time, we brought together the Department’s senior civilian and military leaders, including the Combatant Commands.
We’ve kept that senior-level review body in place, and we’re now using it to update our strategic vision, review progress and provide oversight of important efforts – including net-centricity. Net-centric capabilities are about getting people the information they need, when and where they need it. Just as it is in business, information has become a strategic asset for the Department, and using it effectively is essential to the success of our mission.
The Department is changing the way we think about the capabilities we need. We’re now working on what we call “joint capability portfolios”. We’re focusing on macro system-level capabilities, rather than on individual platforms. We’ve moved this to a much higher level.
There are four joint capability portfolio test cases under way – and one of them is the “Joint Net-Centric Operations Capability Portfolio.” It’s led by the head of NII, John Grimes, and by the Commander of US Strategic Command, and includes representatives from all the major stakeholders. The vision for this joint capability team is to identify and balance warfighter needs and expenditures across the full spectrum of net-centricity, to include doctrine, organization, materiel, leadership, personnel and facilities. So it is very broad in scope, and also very deep.
What the Department is seeking is timely synchronization and integrated delivery of capabilities – and to do it within projected costs and on schedule. The approach is to identify gaps and seams, to eliminate redundancies except by design, and to make sure that solutions are completely interoperable. This portfolio tackles a wide range of issues –tools for spectrum management, data strategy, coalition interoperability, bandwidth, collaboration, and information assurance – everything.
Now it sounds complex, but in my judgment it’s a much simpler approach than trying to integrate 25 or 30 separate programs, buried in each of the Services’ budgets, late in the design and fielding cycle. My suggestion to all industry people here is that you follow this evolution closely, because this approach will have implications for how we procure our net-centric goods and services. This is a very serious effort within the Department.
In terms of the management of net-centricity, I personally look to John Grimes and the NII team to lead this effort. In turn, John works closely with General Hoss Cartwright and his team at STRATCOM. John and General Cartwright also keep their antennas in tune with our coalition partners, and especially with the Department of Homeland Security.
We do indeed live in an interconnected world, and the net-centric requirement is not just internal to the Department of Defense. More and more, we have to have interconnections with a broad range of partners. In the U.S. we need those partnerships to include federal, state and local agencies.
We do have a mandate within the Department of Defense to support homeland security, as that assistance is needed. In fact, as you know, the Department put in place a new Combatant Command, NORTHCOM, for just that purpose. Hurricane Katrina revealed a number of shortcomings in our national capability, and while many of those shortcomings have been addressed and fixed, this will continue to be an area of emphasis in the future.
In the meantime, going to war with an international coalition, and working with international partners to respond to worldwide natural disasters, also demand interconnected and secure systems, as well as the ability to share unclassified information effectively.
One outcome I hope for from the Joint Network Operations capability portfolio is that it will ease ongoing integration with our international coalition partners – hopefully, we can reduce the number of interfaces that we and they need to specify and control, for integration.
Operationally, it is not enough to have the net-centric advantage only at headquarters. The net-centric transformation needs to extend to the tip of the spear – to the Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine at the tactical edge of the network. The greatest strength of our armed forces is the initiative and adaptability of our people. Net-centricity can give them situational awareness and understanding of “commanders’ intent”. What you want them to do is build on their initiative, to accomplish their missions faster and better.
Sometimes, new information is needed. At other times, it’s a question of leveraging knowledge we already have. Several years ago, as units in Iraq recognized the IED threat, they began creating databases to track IED incidents. As our capabilities have matured, it has become possible to link those databases. Today, we have a much more effective effort - units across Iraq, from different partner countries, can now share IED information with each other.
Innovation, however, needs to be smarter. In the absence of guidance or support, personnel on the ground tend to come up with innovative ad hoc solutions … like using their own cell phones, and creating online chat rooms. But the problem is – like those first IED databases – that many of the ad hoc information “solutions” are neither interoperable nor secure, and they can’t be extended.
The Department owes our warfighters the enterprise-level solutions they need, and the system frameworks that allow capability to be expanded or added without the need, each time, for a new system design.
Net-centricity doesn’t just apply to warfighting and coalition support. It’s also key to defense intelligence, and it’s key to the basic business we do in the Department. We can’t pay our personnel, or ship supplies, or call up forces, without our networks. We’re now dependent on doing business this way – the same as American industry – but I wonder sometimes if we’ve built an Achilles heel into the system.
This gets at the security of our networks and the security of our information – because they are vitally important to the Department. This is the single issue I spend more time thinking about in the middle of the night, than any other.
There are a lot of antagonists out there who would be delighted to take down our systems, and they are trying, to the tune of 1000’s of incidents daily.
Recreational hackers who just get a kick out of hacking into a DoD system
Cyber-vigilantes out to prove a misguided point
Small interest groups with a specific ideological issue to push
Transnational terrorist networks who truly want to destroy our system
And, most troublesome, hostile nation-states.
These efforts to degrade our systems are expected to continue. In part to counter these efforts, responsibility for the operations and defense of DoD networks has been assigned to the commander of the US Strategic Command, General Cartwright. In addition to his DISA hat, General Croom also serves under STRATCOM as the commander of the JTF Global Network Operations.
The networks are “vulnerable” in another sense – we have to rely on commercial grids, because a single Department alone simply can’t keep up with the pace of global technological change. I don’t think it’s reasonable, or feasible, for the Department to have its own unique systems for everything. The challenge is that we don’t completely control the grids we use – and sometimes it’s even difficult to know who owns them.
Lastly, and on a completely different but related topic, someone asked me the other day – what do I consider the greatest long-term threat to America? I responded that it’s not WMD, not even WMD in the hands of determined terrorists. The greatest long-term threat to America, and to our close friends and allies, is falling behind in science and technology.
There is no greater threat to this nation. Science and technology are the bedrock of our knowledge-based economy, as well as our military capabilities.
I’m preaching to the choir – you are today’s rock stars of science and technology. What I’d ask is that you take every opportunity, in your organizations and communities, to encourage science education, research and application. America’s future – and the future of our partners – does depend on it.
I do thank all of you here today – for the standards of excellence you set, in very sophisticated fields. Thank you for what you do every day to protect and defend freedom and liberty, for America and for our friends and allies.
God bless each of you and your families, God bless all the men and women who wear the cloth of this Nation, and God continue to bless America.