AF expeditionary forces will reach back to U.S. via wireless networks

Air Force networks will be weapons systems, Skoch said.




The Air Force will someday depend on wireless networks to help it strike
anywhere in the world within 24 hours, a top Air Force communications officials said.


Because the United States does not know where the next military threat will come from,
the service must be prepared to respond quickly anywhere around the world, said Col.
Bernie Skoch, director of systems at the Air Force’s Communications and Information
Center.


At the GCN Forum luncheon in Washington last week, Skoch outlined the service’s
plan to create 10 air expeditionary forces and the communications infrastructure needed to
support such quick-deploy teams.


The forces, two of which will be on call at any given time, will react rapidly to
events anywhere, reducing the need for systems staff and services at overseas bases, Skoch
said.


Skoch said the forces will make the Air Force a lighter, leaner and more lethal
organization.


The service will deploy the expeditionary forces with minimum support, reaching back to
Air Force bases in the continental United States for services, engineering, intelligence
and communications. Streamlined supply routes will let the forces become operational
sooner with better effectiveness than the service’s conventional force deployments,
Skoch said.


The Air Force has 15,000 personnel overseas, 1,200 of which are information technology
specialists, Skoch said. The use of the expeditionary forces could reduce that number
significantly because most of the IT support will be done in the United States, he said.


The support workload on U.S. personnel will also lessen, he said. When the Air Force
moves personnel overseas, their colleagues in the United States must perform the deployed
officers’ tasks as well as their own, Skoch said.


To provide the communications service for the forces, the Air Force will rely on
vendors to provide commercial comm links. “We do not want bandwidth to be a limiting
factor when it is time to apply force,” Skoch said.


The service will also depend on a system of wireless networks, broadband systems and
satellite communications using geosynchronous Earth orbit satellites and low- or
middle-Earth satellites, Skoch said.


Satellite communications will tap both commercial and Air Force satellites. “I
don’t think it would be wise to rely solely on Air Force satellites,” Skoch
said.


The idea is to turn the service’s networks into weapons systems, Skoch said.
Because long-distance communications will be critical, the service must protect those
systems from internal and external attack, he said.


The service will also have to train personnel to use state-of-the-art comm systems,
Skoch said.


“We want people to get a driver’s license, so to speak, before they drive on
our network,” Skoch said.  

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