A Proposal for an Evolutionary JWID-like AFCEA Technet Strategy
AFCEA Technets may have potential to surpass anticipated future technology exposition impacts by increasing integration among participating technology demonstrations and relating those demonstrations collectively to specific sets of operational capabilities valued by customers represented by AFCEA members and those visiting the Technet events.
This approach is typical of Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstrations (JWIDs) of the past decade, beginning with the Integrated Tactical Data Networking (ITDN) Demonstration in 1989. Inasmuch as fiscal support for JWIDs has diminished in recent years, AFCEA may well serve its members by adapting Technets to perform information technology demonstrations oriented to JWID-like objectives.
Inasmuch as AFCEA is an international professional organization, one major objective of most countries represented within its membership and which host Technet demonstrations ought to be the focus of Technets in coming months. That objective is the application of integrated technology solutions to enable assured information services for national and international security operations. This is particularly important to the United States, for which most national security operations have involved other nations in recent years, to the extent it recognizes the multiple dimensions of the international infosphere within which it must interact with its component operating and support organizations and those of allies.
Generally, JWIDs were "requirement oriented" to facilitate improved technology solutions to address operating requirements of operating forces supporting national security (sometimes extending beyond the DOD and Military Departments). They attempted to provide a continuous cycle of technology assessment and feedback solutions to support emerging and evolving operational requirements.
In the dawning years of the 3rd millennium, characterized by an "information revolution," the rapid pace of evolutionary change in information technologies dictate closer bonds among government, industry and academia to exploit emerging technological capabilities and harness those capabilities to more agile operations and dynamic responses to complex and chaotic threats. Investments in development and application of emerging technologies must be coherently and dynamically managed to enable the continuing availability of resources to fund those investments. Cooperation in managing information and information technology must be approached as an enterprise, linking all branches and departments of government as well as those of allied governments, industry and academia. A national (and international) enterprise to ensure security of and among nations is maintained, does exist but is often not well managed in terms of its exploitation of capabilities emerging from information technologies.
Increasingly information and information technology have become more important as defense tools and services in the rapidly expanding, chaotic and complex infosphere domain where, information operations and warfare threats intensify daily. AFCEA is positioned to play a more prominent role in facilitating solutions to these challenges as the facilitator of closer relationships among government, industry and academia in the area of information technology.
Technets of recent years have succeeded in facilitating improved perspectives of the value and relevance of integrated applications of emerging technological products of Technet Sponsors, including government organizations providing information and information technology management services. However, increased efforts by AFCEA to more consistently and continuously conduct requirement reviews and evolutionary capability demonstrations can magnify its impacts and rewards to its sponsors, internationally. By providing architectural guidelines, technical frameworks and succinct operational functional objectives, AFCEA can more coherently focus Technets of the future. For example, distinct operational threads and triggers for demonstrated functionality which are oriented to vignettes associated with contextual scenarios can enable clear functionality to be demonstrated which is important to functional operations.
Such efforts can more tightly interface and integrate common technology assessment, evaluation and demonstration efforts of laboratories and integration centers of industry, Services, Commands and Agencies of governments and their alliances. Examples of some government facilities are these:
Partners for Peace, the Joint Battle Lab, the USAF Electronic Systems Command (ESC), USA Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), the USMC Warfighting Center (WFC), the Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity (MCTSSA), the USN Space and Electronic Warfare (SPAWAR)/Naval Ocean Systems Command (NOSC), the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) (Info Assurance Task Force, Joint Interoperability Test Command and Center for Information Technology Standards), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) etc ...)
JWID oriented Technets ought also to be evolutionary and oriented to continuously improving capabilities required by organizations represented by AFCEA members. They should clearly show, in operational context, how the technology can be used and generate data supporting objective performance metrics determined by sponsoring operational commands. As with JWIDs of the past, Technets ought to be oriented to operational/support functions of a sponsoring operational command. And successive Technet demonstrations sponsored by other commands should be oriented to continuously improving those required capabilities and assessed by "real" operations, functional support personnel and participating AFCEA members. Technets are conducted throughout the year, in varying regions of the world and can be linked to each other in a manner to demonstrate improvements in capabilities from the previous Technet (in another region). This also enables each regional command to assess the capabilities relative to special needs of the region.
The capabilities required should be derived from documented operational requirements of operating commands, as well as national and international command authorities. Examples are the following: Distributed Collaborative Planning, Battlespace Management, Knowledge-based Information Presentation, Information Dissemination Management, and Communications and Networking. Information dissemination and management capabilities required may be derived by analyzing functional requirements and relating them to nodal relationships of the operating and supporting units which may be overlaid to produce information exchange requirements among nodes producing information needlines and related temporal characteristics of information requirements represented in those needlines. These should be used to produce individual Technet guidelines to coordinate equipment configurations and processes sequences similar to those related to "real" operational situations.
Naturally, such an "evolutionary" Technet paradigm will require close cooperation and continuous/dynamic collaboration among industry, government and academia participants. This includes continuously monitoring and updating functional operating requirements of operators. AFCEA, in this paradigm, would not only facilitate evolutionary integrated technology demonstrations but also requirements extrapolation and interpretation sessions in classified and unclassified fora. These fora establish the objectives of technology demonstrations to be proposed by industry and government technology development and integration centers. These proposals ought include clearly related, sequenced and integrated operational scenario relationships and identify sources of data to drive sequenced activities, which can be replayed when triggered by operational situations depicted in an overarching Technet Demonstration Plan. This overarching Plan should be brief, with minimal text and maximum graphical content, but useful to guide tours of Technet demonstrations to give them coherence and relevance to objectives of specific Technets and the operational requirements of sponsoring commands.
Technets may be even more effective in terms of their relevance to organizations of government and international alliances by including semi-formal assessments by small boards representing industry, government and academia. However, these boards can be most effective if composed of operational or functional experts, rather than information technology experts. These Technet assessment boards should be challenged to prioritize capability demonstrations relative to requirements identified and determine progress made in successive Technets toward improving relevant functional capabilities. Technet reports should be promulgated by the assessment boards to provide recommendations to guide developers, producers and users of capabilities demonstrated in improving their individual missions and functions related to that capability.
A major effect of evolving toward this type of Technet paradigm will be to more cost-effectively apply resources of government and industry toward valued capabilities to produce capabilities and profits needed to support essential missions. Common goals can be reached by reducing risks and sharing infrastructure and services, thereby minimizing costs while optimizing results.
Capabilities demonstrated would be conducted with the focus on specific operational plans and capabilities to ensure the set of solutions will REALLY work in the REAL world.
Nevertheless, thought a more focused and evolutionary approach to Technet management can produce distinct and meaningful value for AFCEA members and sponsors around the world, it requires significant effort to plan the management of information exchange toward objective performance capabilities and provision of associated measures of success. Clear performance objectives and metrics of measurement must be determined, clearly described and applied to assess the effectiveness of solutions demonstrated. To do this requires some level of objective data collection and assessment to validate levels of success achieved in the demonstration and variations of performance relative to previous Technet demonstrations.
Generally, adoption by AFCEA, its members and sponsors of such a Technet process need not require greatly increased resource outlays. The refinement of the process and sharing of resources can be expected to reduce risk, waste and enable leveraging and sharing resources. Thereby, the process is more streamlined, efficient and productive. Overlapping efforts are reduced and common functions and activities enable synergistic leveraging of resources and boosting of effectiveness to improve the return on investment in information technology development, demonstrations and applications. A win-win outcome for AFCEA and technology developers, producers and users is predictable. And our national security can only benefit from improved capabilities derived from the more effective and efficient process.
AFCEA is optimally situated to become the stimulus to enable, not only improved professional development among its member, but also improved processes to exploit the improved capabilities enabled with the technology, including assured information services for both offensive and defensive national security operations. If AFCEA takes the lead in obtaining a commitment among industry, government and academia to yield to common integrated approaches to conduct and oversee evolutionary enterprise-wide solutions, opportunities will be increased and risks reduced to produce mutually successful outcomes. However, to succeed, all communities and organizations must pool resources and yield to common and integrated technology demonstrations with continuous planning and management mechanisms. Planning ought not be isolated for single Technet events but relate demonstrated capabilities throughout the year to operational functionality for national and international security organizations and those that support them. This continuous process need not be overly burdensome if emerging information technologies are not only demonstrated, but also applied in planning, managing and reporting processes. Web-based collaborative interaction by all communities can be enabled and exploited through use of existing information repositories and exchange media to interconnect the technical and authoritative organizational expertise needed to maintain momentum throughout the year. Neither equipment, facilities, people, nor other resources need be isolated for this process, but rather shared with other activities, including operational functions to which they are routinely assigned.
All that's needed to make the giant step to a new JWID-like Technet paradigm is for AFCEA take up the guide-on and lead, facilitating the process to tighten the bond among industry, government and academia in an enterprise-wide approach to national and international security services expediting and exploiting improved information technologies at the dawn of the 3rd millennium.