DOD attacks its tactical systems
- By Gregory Slabodkin
- Mar 31, 1997
Based on the findings of a new but unreleased report, the Defense Department must make
some sweeping changes and new investments in battlefield command and control systems,
DOD's chief information officer said this month.
Emmett Paige Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for command, control,
communications and intelligence, said the DOD report found that Defense has only
one-fourth the communications services it needs in the deployed rear area and a mere 2
percent of the investment needed to support future tactical communications requirements.
The report provides an overview of DOD's command, control, communications, computers
and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) programs, Paige said.
Though the report has not been released, Paige offered some of its details at an
Armed Forces Commu-nications and Electronics Association meeting at Fort Ritchie, Md.
"We knew what the major C4ISR problems were when we started this study,"
Paige said. "First, the demand for communications far outstrips our capability. This
shortfall results from new operational concepts, new weapons which rely heavily on C4ISR
and improvements in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance."
The so-called C4ISR Mission Assessment (CMA)-co-chaired by Jim Soos, the deputy
assistant secretary of Defense for command, control and communications, and Lt. Gen. Doug
Buchholz of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-began last October in anticipation of the
Quadrennial Defense Review. DOD asked the CMA team to assess the department's C4ISR
ability to support military operations and develop an investment strategy.
In the overall context of C4ISR modernization, Paige said communications represents a
significant shortfall and is the major area for additional modernization investment.
Though he stopped short of discussing a specific investment strategy, he said DOD is
formulating investment alternatives and making recommendations to include in the
Quadrennial Defense Review.
Hanging in the balance is DOD's annual $9 billion information technology budget.
C4ISR is a vital component of DOD's warfighting capability. Through application of
C4ISR, Pentagon brass hope to improve battlefield information quality dramatically and
streamline the tactical decision-making process.
A major initiative of the CMA study is the development of an overarching, integrated
C4ISR architecture. Under the CMA, DOD assessed C4ISR capabilities to support strike and
interdiction, close combat, air defense suppression, theater air defense, ballistic
missile defense and Naval warfare.
"We need joint doctrine and joint standards," Paige said. "Our C4ISR
systems must act in unison, as if they were a single, seamless system effectively using
all of its resources and capabilities for a common purpose."
The focus of DOD's C4ISR efforts, Paige said, should be to resolve the problem that
"tactical forces still cannot count on getting information when it is needed-on
demand." He said service stovepipe systems are all too common and that critical
interoperability and integration is not in place.
But the CMA effort is not the first DOD C4ISR study to come up with conclusions and
recommendations in this area. Last December, a classified C4ISR Integration Task Force
report was sent to then-Defense Secretary William Perry.
It included 13 major recommendations for change in C4ISR processes including requirements
definitions, acquisition strategies, C4ISR architectural definitions and processes and
resource management changes, as well as ways to integrate new C4ISR concepts and
A major problem identified by the CMA study is an imbalance within DOD's mix of
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.
"Our mix of investments in Defense intelligence does not reflect changes in
world conditions, consumer requirements and technology," Paige told the AFCEA
audience. "And we need to significantly improve the joint process for deciding how
much to invest in each intelligence discipline or collection platform."
"In addition, there is an imbalance between intelligence collection, exploitation
and dissemination," he said. "Major improvements in collection must include
adequate exploitation and dissemination to allow the use of new information in support of
The CMA study noted the irony that DOD modernization efforts have actually increased
the vulnerability of Defense systems to threats from potential adversaries.
Technological advances, greater connectivity to and dependence on commercial networks and
enhanced data sharing has weakened the Defense Information Infrastructure, Paige said.
"Our increased reliance on communications, computers and information highlights
to an enemy our vulnerability to information warfare," he said. "This
vulnerability must be taken into account as we devise our investment strategy."
Last November, a Defense Science Board report on the threat of information warfare
found a need for "extraordinary action" to deal with the present and emerging
challenges of defending against possible information warfare attacks.
Besides recommending changes in DOD's information security programs, the DSB report urged
DOD to invest more than $3 billion over the next five years to develop a defensive
capability against information warfare. As a follow-up to the DSB study, DOD formed a task
force to evaluate the department's information assurance and security plans and to
integrate them into a single, comprehensive plan.
The task force completed its initial assessment in late February, mirroring many of the
recommendations made by the DSB.
The task force concluded that:
The task force recommended that DOD formally give the assistant secretary of Defense
for C3I, as DOD's chief information officer, the responsibility of developing and managing
a departmentwide program to protect the Defense Information Infrastructure. The
responsibility would entail ensuring that DOD could rapidly reconstitute the DII after an
information warfare attack.