Air Force shoots for enterprise architecture

'An architecture-based look at our capabilities will help us better visualize integration and interoperability issues,' says Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force's chief of staff.

R.D. Ward

'Architecture is a journey, not a destination.'

Air Force officials say this slogan explains both the process and the progress of an Air Force initiative to integrate its manned and unmanned air, space and ground systems into a single enterprise.

The Air Force's enterprise architecture will evolve over several years, said Gen. John P. Jumper, the service's chief of staff. It will help the Air Force meet its changing needs as it adapts to advances in warfare and technology.

'Our vision is the sum of the whole is much more effective than the separate parts,' Jumper said. 'This will allow us to provide the joint forces commander an outstanding capability to find, fix, track, target, engage and access anything in his region of responsibility within minutes.'

One of the first areas to be developed under the Air Force's enterprise architecture initiative is the Command and Control Constellation, a plan to integrate air and space command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems so that joint forces commanders get a common picture of air assets and enemies.

The systems will be connected using common standards and implementing new business rules, Air Force officials said. Jumper said the service will release a major version update of its C2 constellation in June.

13 councils

The service's enterprise architecture structure includes councils that are in charge of 13 mission or business areas in the Air Force: combat operations, space operations, mobility operations, special operations, weather, air traffic management, installation and logistics, health services, personnel, acquisition, financial management, modeling and simulation, and 'infostructure' or IT infrastructure.

The councils will do much of the architectural development and systems engineering within their mission area and give progress reports, according to the Air Force's CIO office.

Each council will identify the types of information and systems needed to support its key processes, Air officials said.

The councils hold quarterly meetings, the first of which was in December, and they report to the Enterprise Architecture Integration Council, which coordinates the integration work of the individual councils.

Jumper said his goal for enterprise architecture is to improve the service's efficiency by consolidating its assets.

'Efficiencies are one of the primary reasons we are working on this,' Jumper said. 'An architecture-based look at our capabilities will help us better visualize integration and interoperability issues.'

Savings expected

An official in the CIO's office said there is no exact dollar amount the Air Force hopes to save through the initiative, but it does expect to reap financial benefits.

'Although one purpose of the enterprise architecture is to reduce duplication and inefficient system acquisition, it is also true that many of the returns on investment are not financial,' the official said. 'Objectives like increased warfighter capability development and fielding, and better integration and interoperability of critical warfighter or business systems to achieve decisive superiority on the battlefield, are not necessarily measured in cost savings.'

Jumper said establishing an enterprise architecture will ensure that the integrated view is linked to the Air Force's requirements, planning, programming and budgeting, as well as its acquisition processes.

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