G-6 says OIF validates IT Transformation path
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
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,
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,
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,
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,
The general then asked the IT professionals present to become
missionaries in working toward an information-dominant future force
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, he
All leaders must have a firm grasp of managing and using IT,
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
All military and civilian recruiting will be done online, he
said, to include digitally signed contracts or job offers to seal
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,
"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 said.