Magazine article National Defense

U.S. Success in Future Battlefield Hinges on Information Advantage

Magazine article National Defense

U.S. Success in Future Battlefield Hinges on Information Advantage

Article excerpt

The rapid development of systems guaranteeing information dominance for the U.S. military clearly is a Defense Department priority, according to officials.

Real-time access to vital battlefield intelligence will make conventional warfare obsolete. However, this leap ahead in technology will come at a price, business leaders assert.

Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps officials believe staying ahead of the adversary is the key to success. They outlined their visions of the future at the Third Information Management Symposium-Information Technology: The Leverage For Military Dominance, Arlington, Virginia, supported by NDIA.

By acquiring advanced systems that provide integrated battlefield data, the Defense Department predicts it will outclass potential opponents in a virtual chess match. The recurring theme at the conference was acquiring these advanced systems at a lower cost.

Officials said the nexus of this attempted leap forward is the Federal Acquisition Reform Act of 1996 that mandated the establishment of a chief information officer, the measurement of information technology in mission output terms, the linking of capital investments to improved output, the re-engineering of business processes, and the implementation and report on procurement reform.

Information Dominance

"Information technology plays a key role in national defense," said Anthony M. Valletta, acting Defense Department chief information officer. "We are tied to it; we are embedded in it."

According to John R. Messier, president of GTE Federal Systems, Needham, Massachusetts, "The world as we know it is being wired."

A problem exists in how data has been collected and maintained throughout time. Information is outdated and unorganized, repetitive, incomplete, disjointed and scattered, and getting worse, claimed Messier. "We know too much and understand too little ... We absolutely must share data to make sure it is understood accurately."

At the same time information is being shared, security is a crucial issue to be considered. The public's right to know is a given, but this is a qualified prerogative. Information that falls into the wrong hands can be detrimental to national security.

"The bottom line is to get to a position," said Messier, "which basically can deny crucial messages to our enemy, which is when they are deployed and ready to catapult their rocks against our castles that they look at each other and say 'I thought you were gonna bring the rocks."

The Army Perspective

Lt. Gen. Douglas D. Buchholz, USA, office of the joint chiefs of staff, said, "Network management is the key to [information technology]."

Gen. Buchholz pointed to WalMart and how the giant retailer is a network centric information unit with its niche being inventory control. He suggested that the Army should follow the example of this $3 billion-a-year company by becoming network centric.

Gen. Buchholz said the Army is in need of procedural and organizational changes, and that the Navy is ahead. The Army has to unclog its logistics pipes.

"I find out who's knocking on our door and it scares me," said Gen. Buchholz. "We have to protect ourselves as Americans. ... I would still give us a C-. We have a long way to go on this."

David Borland, Army deputy chief information officer, laid out the Army's plans for the future. "Everyone on the battlefield can interact at any time using all the tools necessary to convey thoughts, orders, or plans to any system, mounted or unmounted, on the battlefield in real time."

Borland observed, "Army Vision 2010 enables Joint Vision 2010." The Army vision is based on its enterprise architecture, which is composed of operational, technical, and systems architectures.

Operational architecture, the total ensemble of missions, function, tasks, information requirements, and business rules, is the "mother of all business proposition reengineerings," said Borland. …

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