by Lieutenant General William J. Donahue, USAF
Director, Communications and Information
United States Air Force
Mr Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, I want to thank you for your interest in this nationally important issue. The fact that this distinguished committee is holding hearings on information superiority is a clear indication of the vitally important role information is playing in our daily operations. We all appreciate your interest and your support in this area.
The United States Air Force remains heavily engaged in worldwide operations while we are hard at work evolving to an expeditionary aerospace force--an Air Force that is better trained and prepared to provide aerospace power to meet the operational and war fighting needs of this nation.
The United States Air Force is operating better and conducting its daily business at less cost through information and information technology. We have made enormous progress leveraging this technology; as a consequence, we enjoy significant advantage over any current or potential adversary in the information arena. However, we are only just beginning our journey.
We continue to develop, invest, and grow in this area.
We believe that information superiority is an Air Force core competency--on par with our other core competencies of air and space superiority, precision engagement, global attack, rapid global mobility, and agile combat support.
We will know we have information superiority when we are completely capable of operating freely, precisely, and unchallenged in the information domain--when we can easily deny the enemy the freedom to do the same.
The United States Air Force is roughly 33% smaller than we were at the start of this decade; yet we are deploying 400% more. To remain effective we must know the battlespace with unparalleled clarity, and we must have a tight linkage between sensors, commanders and shooters. That's why we continue to invest to improve our eyes, ears, decision making, precision, and fire power. We are turning to information technology to make every bomb and bullet count, to be agile, flexible and able to rapidly maneuver to achieve the military and national security objective of the Nation.
I'd like to give you some details on how we are doing in exploiting information technologies and attaining information superiority.
First and foremost, we are making tremendous progress in these areas because of the great people we have--people we need to operate and maintain this technology; but, people who are highly sought by the private sector. This high private sector demand is impacting our ability to recruit and retain the information technology professionals we need for the future--a problem we are working hard to turn around.
We are making great progress on our journey to information superiority because of the superb training we have; but this training is stretched thin as we race to keep abreast of the rapidly changing information technology.
We are making great progress because we are ready now to operate anywhere on the globe; however, there are troubling trends in the readiness area. With your help, we are working hard to stem the decline in readiness we are experiencing.
We are preparing for the future through modernization--not all the modernization that we need, but a program that carefully considers and balances our spending on people, readiness, modernization, and infrastructure.
We pull all of our people, equipment, and technology together through a well-conceived doctrine. Our information operations doctrine was published last year. Simply stated, our doctrine addresses information operations in two dimensions--information in warfare and information warfare. Our information operations doctrine is tightly integrated with our air and space operations doctrine. It is important that we seamlessly integrate information in warfare and information operations. While the nature of information operations is drastically changing, we do not treat information operations as a warfare medium solely and exclusively unto itself. In this information age we have new threats, new targets, new weapons, and we integrate our information capabilities into our overall military operations--information superiority is a part of our total military capability that helps us achieve the desired effects and outcomes in a military operation.
We have made some significant Air Force organizational changes in the information domain and more are coming.
First and foremost we established an Aerospace Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) Center. Their task is to develop our C2ISR operational architectures, to build our roadmaps, to work integration of the many programs into a cohesive whole, and to make recommendations on balancing our investment strategies across the whole information domain. Additionally they manage our experimentation effort--an important part of our overall information superiority efforts.
In 1997 we stood up six battle labs and charged them with the mission of exploring advanced concepts--concepts that can help us be more effective, concepts that enable us to revolutionize aerospace operations. Many of the experiments we have undertaken are based on innovative application of information technology to our operational and support processes. The Air Force's roots are well established in experimentation. We believe it is important to continue to foster the spirit of innovation throughout the Air Force, to be open to the ideas that can help us be effective in ways we may only imagine.
More importantly we have undertaken a series of joint expeditionary force experiments to explore advanced concepts in commanding, controlling, and operating an expeditionary aerospace force.
Our Expeditionary Force Experiment (EFX)-98 successfully explored a number of advanced concepts that centered on the hypothesis that advanced aerospace warfighting capabilities can enhance the nation's ability to rapidly halt an invading force anywhere in the world, even with limited warning. The roots of many of the experiments undertaken in EFX-98 were based on innovative use of existing and emerging information technologies.
We explored a split Air Operations Center to see if we could reduce our forward footprint without sacrificing effectiveness, and we think we can.
We explored concepts of distributive, collaborative planning to increase our effectiveness in air campaign planning and execution.
We experimented with an airborne operations center to allow the Joint Forces Air Component Commander to maintain situation awareness and to plan and control operations while airborne and en route to his destination.
We experimented with tactical data links on bomber aircraft--this was especially effective in improving the crews' situation awareness and led us to invest in datalinks on bomber aircraft.
The experiment showed our distributed connectivity allows us to collaboratively build and disseminate an Air Tasking Order, providing flexibility to task or retarget a weapon system en route while monitoring the execution in real-time.
While EFX-98 had important joint content we have expanded our efforts in 1999. Our Joint EFX-99 hypothesis examines the thesis that enhanced aerospace capabilities, when thoroughly integrated throughout the command and control structure down to the tactical level, enable us to achieve the joint operational objectives more quickly and with less risk to friendly forces.
The important precept in our experimentation process is a fast cycle acquisition process--we call it spiral development. This concept links users and developers in a process that is designed to rapidly field those capabilities that are successful in our experimentation process. General Chuck Horner, the "air boss" for Desert Storm participated in the EFX-98 evaluation--his comments regarding spiral development were right on target. He said, "EFX-98 has allowed, perhaps forces, the development and operational communities to field needed capabilities on a continuous, interactive basis. This process is well worth significant support."
The bottom line is that our experimentation program is the proving ground for the revolution of military and business affairs that will make the expeditionary Air Force increasingly effective and efficient.
All of these advanced concepts involving information superiority must rest on solid foundations of robust connectivity and information assurance--assurance that our information is protected, reliable, and available to the warfighter at the right time and in a form that is useful to them. This means assurance of connectivity, assurance of access to radio frequency spectrum, and assurance that we can operate if we are under an information attack.
The Department of Defense information grid provides the underlying connectivity required to support timely processing and transport of information to users worldwide. Our notion is that it need not matter where you are; it only matters that you are on the net!
We are building our piece of the information grid by fielding a robust information technology infrastructure at our bases. We are supplying high capacity unclassified and classified connectivity to our bases and are building robust high-speed fiber optic infrastructure within the base. Our Combat Information Transport System (CITS) program fields this capability at our bases. We are using the Defense Information Systems Network (DISN) as our primary long haul provider to enhance joint interoperability while reducing the cost of operation.
For our theater air bases in deployed operations we provide an infrastructure that is a near clone of what we have at our fixed bases. The program that delivers this expeditionary capability is our Theater Deployable Communications (TDC) program. This system delivers light, lean, and high capacity service to our warfighters. We have also invested heavily in tactical data links for our fighters and for command and control aircraft to extend our information grid to the sensors and shooters. This tactical data link capability gives us an enormous advantage, phenomenal awareness, superb control, and mission critical information to be precise and effective in our operations. We also support the development of a spectrum plan, both nationally and internationally, because we are a highly mobile force and rely a great deal on assured access to the radio spectrum, regardless of where we are operating.
We have also invested heavily in the space based pieces of the information grid. We are on schedule to field MILSTAR-II; our service life enhancement to the remaining four Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS) birds is on track; and the Global Broadcast Service program will deliver enormous capability to our warfighters. We are also on track to field polar MILSATCOM, wideband Gapfiller satellites, and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) capability when the current generation of satellites begins to play out. At the same time, we will take advantage of the enormous satellite communications capability, which is being fielded in the private sector.
Since the information in our networks is a "Crown Jewel" in the information age, we are relentlessly pursued by a host of hackers and crackers trying to get that information. We have taken several steps to counter this threat. In September 1993, we stood up the Air Force Information Warfare Center to explore and apply offensive and defensive information warfare capabilities for operations, acquisition, and testing. A major element of this center is our Air Force Computer Emergency Response Team, known as AFCERT. Its mission is to help users who need help against cyber attacks to their systems. AFCERT went to a 24 hours per day, 7 days per week operation in February 1998 in response to Solar Sunrise, and remains in round the clock operations today. Next, our Network Control Centers are the first line of defense against a cyber attack. We have made substantial investment in information protection and network management tools. In 1998 we purchased a powerful suite of tools to do the information assurance business for every base in the Air Force and we are well into implementing them. Our network operators are gaining experience in using these tools and exploiting their capabilities by providing a "barrier reef" to provide perimeter protection of the base network.
We have also just completed our first year of a multi-year program to Operationalize and Professionalize our networks. We professionalize our networks by equipping and organizing our networks, and by training and certifying our people on network control, administration and protection. The operationalizing piece involves treating our networks like the weapons systems that they have become. We are going to mission task them and measure their readiness under the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) reporting system. Finally, we are instituting operational reporting procedures of network incidents. Simply put, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force hears about bird strikes and other aircraft incidents during his morning report, now he also hears about attempted computer intrusions and other network incidents.
In all of this, we remain 'joint' so we can be effective in joint operations. We are enforcing joint standards embodied in the Joint Technical Architectures and the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment. These standards help us achieve interoperability objectives while reducing our costs. We are committed to defense-wide information infrastructure modernization programs because they enhance our role in joint operations. For example, the Air Force has transitioned to the new Defense Information Systems Network-Continental United States (DISN-CONUS), is rapidly implementing the Defense Message System, and is committed to transition to the new secure voice capability. In addition, we are partnering with the joint community to investigate the operational utility of new commercial communications capabilities such as mobile satellite services and an exciting array of high capacity space-based communication systems when they are available.
While all of this is meat and potatoes work, it must be done and done correctly if we are to have the connectivity and information assurance we need. We need all these pieces if we are to achieve our information superiority visions.
In all warfighting areas, but especially in the information area, joint systems, joint perspective and joint operations are the key to our Nation's success. The United States Air Force fully supports Joint Vision 2010. Our expeditionary force concepts will result in a coherent presentation of aerospace forces to the Joint Task Force. Our "work horse" sensor platforms feed the common operating picture for the Joint Task Force Commander and our space and global mobility assets provide the backbone for joint operations. Aerospace power provides military superiority--our freedom from attack, our freedom to maneuver, and our freedom to attack.
In closing I want to focus briefly on our recent operational successes. The Nation has every reason to be proud of its military. From intense preparations for operations, to precise execution, to humanitarian relief operations, we continue to demonstrate that there is no peer to the United States military. When you look at the Fall 1998 mobility operations with the tanker and airlift bridges we built; when you look at the enormous flexibility we demonstrated when we were put on hold pending progress on the diplomatic front; when you look at the precision of our operations, you can't help but be both impressed and enormously proud of our people. They deserve the very best that we can provide, and they deserve the full support and appreciation of the American people.
The United States Air Force is proud of its progress in achieving information superiority, but we have much more to do to maintain the advantage we now enjoy. Again, we appreciate your interest and support in this important area, and I look forward to your questions.