by Joe Burlas
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 27, 2003) -- While there
still remain some bugs to tweak and a lot of work, Operation
Iraqi Freedom has validated the Army Knowledge Management
framework track for transforming the way soldiers of all
ranks get and share information, both in peace and war,
according to the Army's top Signal Corps officer.
Lt. Gen. Peter Cuviello, the Army G-6/chief information
officer, shared his vision of how future joint and netted
Army command, control, communications and computers systems
should operate over a global broadcast system. He explained
his vision to more than 200 Information Technology military,
government and industry officials who attended the third
annual Army IT Day in McLean, Va., May 27.
"The Army today is at war and transforming at the
same time," Cuviello said. "As we see senior leaders
go, some may wonder what the future will bring. I believe
we have reached a point of irreversible momentum.
"The real work is getting done in the field -- that
is where the fighting and transformation is getting done.
As new senior leaders come, we will probably see some strategic
changes, but the core work will continue."
Lessons learned from Army operations in Afghanistan and
Iraq over the past year have validated many IT Transformation
concepts, Cuviello said.
The Army has realized for some time that it needs better
energy sources than batteries to power the majority of its
IT systems, Cuviello said, and thus has been exploring fuel-cell
technology -- a mini/micro-powered generator powered by
liquid fuel. The supply of batteries of units in Iraqi Freedom
were hard pressed, he said, for two reasons: the high temperatures
drained them more quickly than expected and the very mobile
nature of the operation meant more reliance on batteries
over the generators normally in use from fixed locations.
"Batteries are heavy items to carry around the battlefield
-- not only to keep them stocked and transported, but also
the transportation requirements to dispose of them,"
Cuviello said. "That is why fuel-cell technology needs
to be pushed very hard and fast."
Another lesson learned is a real requirement for a more
mobile and smaller IT support footprint on the battlefield,
Cuviello said. Antenna farms sprung up around major Army
units in both Afghanistan and Iraq as different antennas
were needed for each of six different satellite bands and
four different types of radios in order to keep the communication
links open between all service components and commanders
in and out of theater. All those antennas sometimes caused
co-site interference with each other, he said.
The science and technology community is researching multi-band
antennas that may be shared with more than one radio or
satellite link to alleviate that problem.
Cuviello said the Army got the right balance between military
and commercial satellite use in Afghanistan. The commercial
satellites used triple digital encryption to transmit mostly
unclassified information, while the military satellites
were used mostly for classified material, he said.
"With commercial satellites, you can turn it off or
on as needed," Cuviello said. "You put up a military
satellite with all the ground-based terminals and people
that go with them -- you have got to run it, maintain it."
Afghanistan and Iraq also validated that the Army has strong
partners in private industry, the general said.
In one instance, the Army was having chalenges in getting
a radio transceiver-based system in place to track all friendly
forces in a timely manner. Industry partners stepped in
and within three months installed a satellite-based "Blue"
force tracking system, Cuviello said.
In another instance, units earmarked for Iraq from the
XVIII Airborne Corps, V Corps and III Corps, had different
software versions of the Army Battle Command System, Cuviello
said, as each were at different points of the system's materiel
lifecycle. That was fine for sharing information within
each corps, but it did not work for sharing across the theater.
Industry again stepped in and quickly fixed the problem
by integrating all to a common version, he said.
The general then asked the IT professionals present to
become missionaries in working toward an information-dominant
future force where:
Everyone in the Army, soldiers or civilians, in 20XX (xx
being date to be determined) will be constantly plugged
into one global Army net -- each with their own handheld
wireless computer, on and off the battlefield. That Army
Knowledge Enterprise net should be used as a single virtual
system for tactical and non-tactical use such as finance
or travel, Cuviello said.
All fixed locations should be wired for that single network
with fiber-optic cable. Military satellites will be laser-backbone
with a relay of networked satellites for the tactical environment,
All leaders must have a firm grasp of managing and using
IT, Cuviello said.
Almost all meetings should be held online, he said. Seventy-five
percent of the civilian workforce may telecommute out of
virtual home offices three days a week and 30 percent will
work always from home.
All military and civilian recruiting will be done online,
he said, to include digitally signed contracts or job offers
to seal the deal.
Accessing military installations, workplaces and computer
systems will be via a Department of Defense biometric capability,
such as fingerprint, iris scan, voice recognition or facial
recognition, he said.
"All these great ideas are only power-point (briefing
slides) until we get them out there on the ground -- not
just to one or two units -- but to every unit," Cuviello