New DOD guide lays out plan for IT transformation

'The department must align itself with the ongoing information revolution.'

'Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

The Defense Department this month released a blueprint that details how it will remake the military as a high-tech, information-reliant fighting force.

'The department must align itself with the ongoing information revolution, not just by exploiting information technology, but by developing information-enabled organizational relationships and operating concepts,' Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld noted in the Transformation Planning Guidance.

DOD's overhaul has three focuses: how the military fights, how it conducts business, and how it works with other agencies and other countries.

'If the United States fails to transform, then our current military superiority and the relative peace, prosperity and stability it underwrites will erode,' he said. 'Some adversaries hope the United States will become complacent. They hope that they will be able to better exploit diffusion of knowledge and information technology ... and thereby negate or leap ahead of current U.S. military advantages.'

The guidance sets a series of deadlines, including a June 1 target for two undersecretaries of Defense and the Joint Forces Command to report to Rumsfeld on their status of implementing a joint test, evaluation and training capability.

The document also sets a July 1 deadline for the Joint Forces Command to submit an integrated systems interoperability plan that can be achieved within the decade.

Because a key element is interoperability, Rumsfeld said, the services must identify initiatives taken in three systems areas:
  • Improving interoperability to deploy a secure, robust and wideband network

  • Using dynamic, distributed and collaborative capabilities

  • Achieving data level interoperability and Internet-ready nodes for sensors, platforms, weapons and forces.

In addition, service leaders have until Nov. 1 to build what the guide calls transformation road maps that they will use to meet Rumsfeld's demands. Some of the goals related to systems require that the department:
  • Ensure systems mesh with a collaborative joint technical architecture

  • Evaluate systems to determine capabilities, limitations and interoperability in realistic joint-warfare scenarios

  • Incorporate Internet-based protocols in new IT, communications, weapons and logistics systems

  • Retrofit legacy systems to meet the transformation goals.

Arthur K. Cebrowski, director of the Office of Force Transformation, called the guide a concise plan. 'It provides the secretary of Defense with some additional levers to push change across DOD,' he said.

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