Warner: 'Major breakdown of stovepipes' coming

The Pentagon's network-centric warfare programs will get about $25 billion of a $440 billion Defense Department authorization bill, Senate Armed Services chairman John Warner (R-Va.) predicted today at a U.S. Capitol luncheon.

But he faulted DOD and industry for failing to find ways to stop the escalating terror in war zones.

'We're doing our best,' Warner said, 'but we've got to figure out how' to stop suicide bombers and crude roadside explosives. 'I can't tell you how serious it is. In 26 years in the Senate, I've never seen a challenge as tough.'

Warner said he is willing to cede his committee's intelligence budget turf to a new national intelligence director. 'We're going to do a major breakdown of stovepipes,' he said, although the secretary of Defense will continue to control tactical issues and relations with allies.

Speaking at a luncheon sponsored by Nortel Networks Ltd. CEO Bill Owens, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Warner said he is agreeable to hosting an industrywide seminar of high-tech rivals and systems integrators to brainstorm on stopping war zone terror.

'We're falling behind,' he said, partly because U.S. universities are not training enough engineers and scientists. 'Our survivability depends on it,' he said.

Arthur K. Cebrowski, who heads the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation, said DOD 'can't predict the future, but we do know a great deal about it. We know you can't long sustain a contradiction without a policy change.'

He cited the exponential growth of telephone use in the early 20th century, which brought about the invention of a switched infrastructure and turned every caller into his or her own operator.

Similarly, he said, the war on terror is causing exponential growth in networked sensors and turning every warfighter into an intelligence analyst.

Net-centric connection of numerous diverse entities is changing the nature of competition to 'a higher level of jointness,' Cebrowski said. Timelines are speeding up, he said, as in the Army's recent decisions to bring some elements of the planned Future Combat Systems to the battlefield much sooner and to force vendor collaboration instead of competition on the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical.

The Joint Tactical Radio System acquisition should have been treated as a testing strategy instead of a long-planned program, he said.

DOD should have sent test units to the field and 'sharply constrained the time and cost, making performance the basis of competition. If we'd done that,' he said, 'we'd be buying digital radios now instead of arguing about the program.'

In the 'iron triangle of DOD, Congress and industry,' he said, two that are in agreement can change the policies of the third. If any two oppose, nothing happens.


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