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American Forces Press Service

Netcentric Operations Provide DoD With Agility

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 13, 2006 The United States has to confront uncertainty with agility, a top Defense Department official said here Jan. 11.

"Agility ... is a theme that runs through almost everything we're talking about these days," said Linton Wells II, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration. "We can't know what the future's going to look like. We have to be agile enough to be able to respond to that uncertainty."

Wells spoke at WEST 2006, a technology, communication and national security conference co-sponsored by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association and the U.S. Naval Institute.

That agility, Wells said, is achieved by netcentricity -- a network that gets information where it's needed, when it's needed.

Netcentricity isn't just beneficial for operations, though. It also is important for business and intelligence purposes in the defense arena, he said.

Wells described the Quadrennial Defense Review scheduled for completion next month as extraordinarily supportive for network centricity. "(The goal is) to be able to change data to information to knowledge to action as rapidly as possible," he said.

The need and the opportunity exist for this to happen, he said, and the strategy to make the QDR's goal a reality has been established.

"I would say ... that all the parts of the strategy are in place for networkcentric operations," Wells said. "But in point of fact, we need to do some refinement."

Refinement requires DoD to look at developing technology. "The DoD is leveraging the information revolution," he said. "This is not just about technology. We need to co-evolve."

To realize the benefits of network centricity, many entities including doctrine, leadership, personnel and materiel need to work and grow together, he explained.

The Global Information Grid - an integrated, interoperable worldwide network of information technology products and management services that processes and moves information -- allows this. The GIG is a network, Wells said, but it's also a concept that will allow these entities to come together.

One challenge associated with developing network centricity, Wells said, is striking a balance between the desire to share and the need to protect information on the GIG.

"Therefore, DoD mission assurance needs to be better than commercial best practices," he said. "We can't just go buy what's out there in the market. We have to find a way to make it better."

Network and information management and getting information to tactical operators in the field who may not have access to high-tech equipment also pose challenges. For the defense industry, government and academia, these challenges provide opportunities to develop solutions, he said.

"We're in this together," Wells said. "This has got to be a public-private partnership. We can't do it by ourselves."



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