Information is as effective a weapon as a bomb, IT brass say

Information is as effective a weapon as a bomb, IT brass say

One of the best ways to strip an enemy force of battlefield control is to take away its command of information. The enemy won't know where U.S. forces are or when they will strike, a panel of senior military brass said yesterday at the MILCOM 2002 conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Defense Department agencies are working to develop command and control systems that can accomplish this goal, said Air Force Brig. Gen. William T. Lord, director of communications and information systems for the Air Combat Command.

"We in the Air Force sometimes get wrapped up in the kinetic piece. We think the investment is a $220 million" weapons system, Lord said. "But information operations can clearly shape the battlefield without requiring so much kinetic force."

Dawn Meyerriecks, chief technology officer at the Defense Information Systems Agency, said information operations are 'as much a part of the fight as the folks dropping the weapons on targets. We're betting the farm on IT.'

Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry D. Raduege Jr., director of DISA, led a panel discussion on the future of joint command and control operations within DOD.

"Suppose you could make the enemy think you are already there" when you aren't, Lord said. "This will provide us with a force-multiplying effect. If you've scrambled the enemy's ability to wage war, you've just reduced your [need to use force], without sending your kids off to strange places to fight strange folks."

U.S. forces rely on command and control systems more than ever, Defense officials said. Ten years ago, it was no big deal if a defense network went down. Today, Lord said, a network failure could have devastating consequences.

The next step, Raduege said, is to develop Defense systems that are faster, more secure and seamlessly connected. Industry can help by developing applications that are easy to use, Lord said.

"It has to be more intuitive. It has to be quick, it has to be easy," Lord said. "There are wonderful tools, but some require a rocket science degree to use it."


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