Air Force brass touts comm integration

Air Force brass touts comm integration

The future of communications in the Air Force is what one colonel dubbed 'weaponizing the network''turning the communications infrastructure into an integral link in what brass have started calling the kill chain.

That's the message the major command communications directors delivered to enlisted and officer-level attendees at the Air Force Information Technology Conference, led by Col. John Maluda, deputy director for command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance integration. Maluda, who has been selected for his first star, is moving to Washington to work in the newly created XI, or integration, command, headed by Lt. Gen. Lesley Kenney.

XI, initiated by Air Force chief of staff Gen. John Jumper, in April replaced XC, the communications command. That has made many uniformed communications workers nervous'and they said so to a panel of the directors assembled at AFITC.

The directors, all but two of whom are uniformed, tried to assure the rank-and-file that their comm futures are brighter because of XI.

'But the cheese has moved,' Maluda said. Communications specialists, he said, must open their apertures by attending to the needs of the operational commands who carry out the kill chain'that is, the process that starts with identifying enemy targets and goes through assessing the damage inflicted on them. Top officials, Maluda said, want to reduce the cycle time of the kill chain by more closely integrating the many tasks that make it happen, including data movement. That integration is the mission of XI, he said.

'Think and know the minds of operators,' advised Col. William Lord, director of communications and information at the Air Force Combat Command during the panel question-and-answer session.

Col. David Kovach, commander of the Air Force Communications agency, told the comm workers to become familiar with warfighters' tools, such as target folders, weapons selection processes, battle orders and the 24-hour combat cycle known as the battle rhythm.

'You need to know these things so you can become part of the discussion as a relevant member of the warfighting tribe,' Kovach said. Still, he added, communications people 'have the best chance of getting integration right.'

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