1997 Congressional Hearings
LIEUTENANT GENERAL WILLIAM A. DONAHUE
Good Morning Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, and staff. I am Lieutenant General Donahue, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Information. Accompanying me today are Major General Casciano, Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, and Major General (Select) Henderson, Director of Command and Control, both from the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today and to discuss the United States Air Force's capabilities in the area of Information Superiority in the 21st Century. I would like to provide you a top-level view of our vision and explain how we, as a service, view information superiority in the context of air and space operations.
Our senior leadership built a vision for the 21st Century that was shaped by Joint Vision 2010 -- the guidance published by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Air Force leaders understood that their strategic vision must meet the national security needs of the nation and meet the national military strategy that depends increasingly on US-based forces for military operations. Global Engagement: A Vision for the 21st Century Air Force is based on an understanding of what air and space power means to the nation -- the ability to hit an adversary's strategic centers of gravity directly as well as prevail at the operational and tactical levels of warfare. Global situational awareness, the ability to orchestrate military operations throughout a theater of operations and the ability to bring intense firepower to bear over global distances within hours to days, by its very existence, gives national leaders unprecedented leverage, and therefore advantages.
Our core Air Force competencies represent the combination of professional knowledge, airpower expertise, and technological know-how that, when correctly applied, produce superior military capabilities as part of the Joint Force Team. The Air Force's core competencies support the Chairman's vision of Full Spectrum Dominance. The US Air Force brings to the Joint Force Team Air and Space Superiority, Global Attack, Rapid Global Mobility, Precision Engagement, Information Superiority, and Agile Combat Support. This full spectrum of dominance requires Information Superiority, the capability to collect, process, analyze and disseminate information while denying an adversary's ability to do the same. While information superiority is not the Air Force's sole domain, it is, and will remain, an Air Force core competency.
Information superiority requires battlespace awareness -- knowledge about the militarily significant events in a battlespace. The Air Force develops and fields sensors that provide the Joint Force Commander an integrated global and theater picture of the battlespace (air/space/surface) that combines with a command and control and battle management system to enable real-time control and execution of air and space missions. From information collection devices and transmission media, to processing capability, the Air Force is laying the foundation for information superiority into the next century -- and we are doing this in lock-step with the Joint Vision. Secure, interoperable, reliable information systems available on demand are our future.
We see sensor and command and control systems as the Joint Force Commander's principal decision-making tools. The system, in its entirety, has to have the ability to collect, transport, process, disseminate and protect data and information. The United States Air Force has battle management and command and control systems that allows the Joint Forces Air Component Commander to control and employ air and space forces in conjunction with the land and maritime assets of our sister Services. Here, the six Air Force core competencies are brought together to provide air and space power and a range of options to the Joint Force Team. While it all must work together, information superiority is clearly a key ingredient in successful military operations -- success measured in terms of rapid, overwhelming victories with few casualties.
Success in the twenty-first century battlespace will rely more and more on our ability to use and protect information. Quality information is the counter to the fog of war. Military operations make special demands on information functions and we must meet those demands if we are to give our commanders the information advantage. Information superiority is just like air superiority or space superiority: it gives us the freedom and ability to operate in the information domain while denying it to the enemy. Without information superiority, operations will slow down and success becomes difficult to achieve. The key for achieving and maintaining this information superiority is precise intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (sensors) information that is transmitted through robust, high capacity, secure information pipes to the warfighters (shooters). This process is managed through both global and theater command and control centers. We take great pride in what we have done in this area and are vigorously working the future -- innovative thinking about information operations is the cornerstone of our long range planning efforts.
Information operations are the heart of our current and future air and space activities. The reason is quite simple. Our interest now in information operations stems from a long evolution of using information technology in warfare. Information about what is over the next hill has always been important to commanders. In the last century, this could have been done by peering through a telescope and transmitting data via semaphore or courier. By the time of the Civil War the advent of the telegraph ushered in an age where an increased amount of information could be transported a great distance in a short period of time. Since that time, through radio technology in World War II, and the widespread development of microwave, satellite, and fiber optics technology in the last decades of this century, the trend has continued. We can now move vast amounts of information globally and instantly.
Future military operations are going to be dominated by one word: precision! Whether a precision weapon is lethal or non-lethal, it will require precise information. This technology permits opportunities for warfare that were showcased during DESERT STORM -- where precision munitions were delivered; where unparalleled situation awareness was provided by real-time information from platforms like RC-135, AWACS, Joint STARS, and the U-2; and, where national space assets presented a battlespace picture of unprecedented clarity, resolution and currency. Future air warfare will increasingly rely on the application of precise targeting information to weapons platforms like the F-15E, F-117, B-2, and F-22 -- aircraft that consume information in huge quantities. Indeed, more than ever, future warfighting effectiveness will be measured by how well a commander can control the flow of information so precision weapons can be employed with unparalleled swiftness and effect. Concentrating combat power at the decisive time and place and putting an adversary in a position of disadvantage, through the flexible application of precision combat power, will increasingly depend upon the flow of information. General Fogleman has pointed out that, "In the 21st Century, it will be possible to find, fix or track, and target anything that moves on the face of the earth."
Our successes in DESERT STORM are a milestone marker for where we've been. We intend to exploit relevant technology to achieve unprecedented capabilities from our forces. The Predator, a technology demonstration of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability, has already been a proven sensor for operation in Bosnia. The vision is clear on the future role of High Altitude Endurance UAVs as sensor and communications relay platforms. We plan to employ space-based infrared systems to fulfill national security needs. We are fielding an array of systems which combine to give us information superiority in deployed operations -- all designed to present a tremendous capability, but with a small footprint, while reaching back to the continental US for essential operational, intelligence and support information.
I would like to spend a few minutes telling you how Information Superiority applies to our fixed bases. All of our day-to-day combat and combat support operations are information dependent -- not unlike the operations of any globally engaged competitive enterprise. At the base or local level, the demand for information is intense because we have become more and more information dependent. The current base information infrastructure, barely adequate for today, must grow to support burgeoning information demands. Recognizing this need, the Air Force, through its Combat Information Transport System program, is modernizing our information transport capability at the base level. This program does more than replace the aging copper cables at our bases -- it builds a robust, flexible, affordable, digital fiber optic infrastructure. It is our access road to the information superhighway -- a major piece of the Defense Information Infrastructure. We're replacing saturated information networks and maintenance intensive equipment by installing new or upgraded digital switching systems and providing the local network management tools required to meet the ever increasing requirement for enhanced information systems speed and capacity.
Our tactical equivalent is the Theater Deployable Communications system. With requirements to rapidly deploy communications forward to support our deployed forces, the Air Force's Theater Deployable Communications program will replace large, high profile, technology-limited, tactical communications equipment. It delivers critical communications capabilities to get to the fight sooner. It relies on proven commercial technologies to give us high capacity systems with substantially smaller size -- at least twice the capacity at one-third the size. This more capable communications system supports command and control, intelligence, and logistics connectivity requirements. At the same time, we are exploiting a wide range of exploding commercial technology to meet warfighter needs for information.
Operation in the information intense environment can only be successful if we protect our information and systems. Air Force systems that process classified information are safeguarded by the most secure cryptographic protection in the world -- cryptographic machines provided by the National Security Agency. However, a number of our information systems process unclassified, but sensitive information and we must protect this information from those who would do us harm. As we turn to commercial systems to meet our information technology needs, and as we interconnect our systems into larger and larger systems of systems, we become vulnerable and only as strong as the weakest link.
The President's Commission on Critical Infrastructures is an important initiative. The eight critical national infrastructures it identifies are heavily information dependent and operate largely without protection. The commission's guidance provides a useful framework for the Air Force to address similar issues -- including raising the awareness of infrastructure protection, and promoting the discussion of legal and policy issues which will eventually prompt statutory proposals. Last June Senator Nunn held hearings on Security in Cyberspace that also underscored the nature of threats to and vulnerabilities of our national information infrastructure and to the Department of Defense in particular. He described shortfalls in policies for protecting networks, responding to intrusion incidents. He also identified the lack of an overall approach to assess risks and potential damage from information attacks.
The Defense Science Board Task Force in November 1996 further characterized the challenges we face in protecting our information infrastructure. The Task Force Report recommends designating an Information Warfare (IW) focal point, organizing for IW defense, increasing awareness, assessing dependencies and vulnerabilities in the infrastructure, defining threat conditions and responses, and assessing IW defense readiness.
These recommendations mirror activities underway in the Air Force. In a sense, the situation is strongly analogous to the days when this country organized for air defense and to react to strategic strike. We have to establish benchmarks to recognize that our infrastructure is under attack, to characterize the nature of the attack, and finally to come up with an appropriate response.
We are not there yet, but we can trace the milestones of the last decade which have provided the Air Force with a framework to progress through these issues. Our expertise in information technology, with the particular orientation toward electronic warfare, in the late eighties was resident at our air intelligence activity at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas. Our people started seeing the kinds of vulnerabilities that are out there and the trends in the information age. They conducted seminal work in bounding the problem and they started developing tools. That led Lt Gen Minihan, then the first commander of Air Intelligence Agency, to create the Air Force Information Warfare Center in September 1993 to focus on this problem, to develop concepts, and to build tools, tactics and techniques that could then be exported to the warfighting commands.
There has been a lot of direction from the senior leadership in terms of how we need to educate the force, how we need to invest, and how we need to operationalize information warfare in our Air Force. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force hosted four-star meetings in 1994 and 1995 which triggered the publication of our Cornerstones of Information Warfare document. Significantly, General Fogleman gave direction to create the 609th Information Warfare Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina to fully operationalize information warfare on behalf of the Air Force Component Commander. The squadron is up and running, and has a cadre of good, motivated people. They are taking this challenge very seriously and making great strides in operationalizing information warfare. They have a plan of action that is going to get IW into our training and exercises.
Air Combat Command has the responsibility to lead the Combat Air Force in terms of operationalizing Information Warfare. Anything we do in the Air Force has to be consistent with the requirements of the Commanders in Chief of our Unified Commands or those of a Joint Task Force Commander. We believe that IW is absolutely critical and integral to Air Force operations at the Joint Forces Air Component Commander level. On balance, potential enemy targets and their infrastructure (for example, command and control nodes and air defense systems) are things the Air Force worries about on the battlefield. This is the rationale for standing up the 609th IW Squadron--a prototype entity designed to employ IW tactics and techniques in support of the Air Component Commander.
When we identified Information Superiority as a core competency, we decided to reflect that in the new Air Staff structure. At the beginning of 1997, we created the directorate for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance under the Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations. Now the Air Force's heavily information-dependent functions of intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance reside in proximity to day-to-day operations policy-making.
In keeping with another recommendation from the Defense Science Board Task Force to adopt high-payoff, low-cost initiatives to improve our information infrastructure readiness, the Air Force just activated (17 Mar 97) the Information Warfare Battlelab in San Antonio. Specifically, the IW Battlelab will examine initiatives among the disciplines of psychological operations, tactical deception, physical destruction, electronic warfare, security measures, and information attack to develop initiatives for the major commands, the doctrine center, or other Air Force battlelabs. The initiatives will focus on the operational and tactical levels of warfare with particular emphasis on finding ways to protect information for our deployed forces.
Another of the Defense Science Board Task Force Report recommendations was to participate fully in critical infrastructure protection. We are highly dependent on commercial information infrastructure to support our base operations -- from transporting medical records or fuel management information over the Internet to relying on automated teller machines for our deploying personnel. Two programs spearhead our effort to provide information protection in the Air Force.
One is the Base Information Protection program. Specifically responsible for network protection functions, it covers activities such as installing network intrusion detection and monitoring equipment and training system administrators and network managers. The second is the Air Force Network Control Center program. It serves as the overall network management function -- as the nerve center for base-wide information flow. Each base has its own network control center and will have ever evolving capabilities, through new hardware and software provided by the Base Information Protection Program.
The Air Force Network Control Center initiative is building cyber fences around our bases, whether in-garrison or deployed, so that anything that comes into a base passes through network security monitoring equipment. Through its network control center, each location will have a single point for controlling all electronic transfers on and off base, an ability to monitor all networks for inappropriate activities, and an ability to intercede if necessary. The Air Force Network Control Center provides "Protect...Detect...React" capability against computer network attacks at the base level, much as the security police provide these capabilities for the physical security of our bases.
Another element of the Base Information Protection program involves intrusion detection. In fact, intrusion detection is one of several functions that make up a full suite of base information protection functions the Air Force plans to employ. The other functions include boundary protection, internal control, reconstitution and recovery, access preservation, authentication and encryption, and network mapping. I'm listing these functions because they will soon play an important complementary role to our initial fielding of intrusion detection equipment across the Air Force.
We started installing the Automated Security Incident Measurement system in 1993. By the end of this month all major Air Force locations will have active security incident measurement systems. We are currently testing software and hardware at Langley AFB, Virginia to select additional protection tools for our base network control centers. By 1 October we plan to have new tools installed at 13 bases. All Air Force bases will have the full complement of protection tools by 2001.
The installation of Automated Security Incident Measurement has been an important first step in characterizing the nature of the threat to our information systems. Each week we brief the Chief of Staff and the Secretary on the operational status of our sites and the nature of any intrusions. This has been a case where it is still a bit too soon to draw conclusions on trends of the number of incidents or intrusions. We have seen months with high and low numbers of incidents, and variation throughout the year. What is clear is that without the detection capability, the Air Force ability to respond, safeguard networks, and prosecute intruders would be nearly nonexistent.
A final issue I'd like to address is staffing for success. Probably the most significant part for the future is the emphasis that the Chief and the Secretary and all of the fourstars have put on training. We are putting Information Warfare into all of our curricula. We are educating the force to make protection a part of our culture. We are implementing two new Information Warfare Applications courses this year; a three-day course for General Officers and senior civilians and a five-day course for others. We expect to train about a thousand people during this coming year at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. IW is going into all of our training programs, officers and enlisted, from the most basic technical training through professional military education. The Air Force Academy has a new Information Warfare training lab in its computer science department where cadets get hands on experience in defending the cyberspace. We have a similar training lab at Goodfellow AFB, Texas where young officers who attend the intelligence applications course receive a thorough introduction to how the Air Force views the importance of links and nodes, networks, and traditional electronic warfare concepts in the information age.
Let me close my discussion on information protection by emphasizing that successful protection depends on proper use of technology, trained and capable people, and a cultural mindset that values and protects information essential to the enterprise. We are working all these. We just finished our first Air Force wide Computer Security Day on February 28th. There, we set aside time for all Air Force members to change their passwords, get training on computer security, and identify and remove any viruses in their systems. This was but one step in what we think involves a cultural transformation in our approach to information protection.
I think it useful to also address efforts to achieve interoperability and commonality of our systems with the Joint standards -- Global Command and Control System, Global Combat Support System, and the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment. The future is clear -- one command and control system -- the Global Command and Control System. The Air Force intends to migrate most of its theater battle management and combat support systems to the Defense Information Infrastructure Common Operating Environment. The reasons are evident -- lower our costs and improve our capability. The Joint Team can count on the Air Force to be a full partner in the Global Command and Control System and the Global Combat Support System. The Air Force recognizes that full spectrum dominance requires a truly interactive, interconnected set of systems. We have already fielded an initial system capability to all of our major commands and active duty Numbered Air Forces. The Air Force's component to United States Central Command took the lead in activating an initial Global Command and Control System capability in the Southwest Asia area of operations. Our current schedule will have an initial capability installed at all active duty wings by the end of this fiscal year (we are about 85% complete right now). Installations at Reserve and Guard Numbered Air Forces and wings is also underway.
The Global Combat Support System is following the ground-breaking success of the Global Command and Control System and will integrate automated combat support systems into a common framework for our forces. This program, an integral part of agile combat support, provides total asset visibility for logistics, personnel, medical, and non-combatant evacuations, and transportation management.
The United States Air Force is capable and ready to operate in the full spectrum of warfare in the air, space, and information dimensions. But that is not good enough -- we must prepare for the future. We are stepping out smartly into "tomorrow," so we will be postured for full spectrum information dominance, supporting the Joint Force Commander. Here, Joint Vision 2010 is the conceptual template for how America's armed forces will channel the vitality and innovation of people and leverage technological opportunities to achieve new levels of effectiveness in joint warfighting. The implications are clear -- information and information technology will be big enablers. They will empower commanders to achieve decisive victory with few casualties. Air, space, and information superiority combined with the commander's knowledge, experience, resources, ability, and well-trained Airmen will enable us to achieve full spectrum dominance -- "the capability to dominate an opponent across the range of military operations and objectives."
Mr. Chairman, we thank you for the opportunity to present the Air Force view on "Information Superiority in the 21st Century" and describe some of our contributions to Joint Vision 2010.
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