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Signal Corps community's recent progress good, gaps in support to operational force still exist

Apr 23, 2010

By Larry Stevens, FORSCOM Public Affairs

FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (April 23, 2010) -- Progress was made during the last year, but more is needed from the Signal Corps community to fill gaps in its support of the operational force, said the commander of the U.S. Army's largest Command Thursday in Atlanta.

Gen. Charles C. Campbell, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, delivered the message to the audience of more than 250 people gathered for the Armed Forces Communication and Electronics Association's sixth annual Tactical C4 Conference.

Campbell reminded the audience that he had addressed them at their conference last year and among the topics covered were his recommendations on how to close those gaps.

Since then, he said, he has engaged Signal commanders and other leaders at almost every echelon. His message has been consistent: A comprehensive Signal Functional Area Assessment is needed, and the Global Network Enterprise Construct needs to be funded and implemented. He further explained that a fused tactical and strategic Signal structure veils requirements and is sub-optimal. Cyber operations, Campbell said, are a maneuver commander's business.

He acknowledged that progress had been - and is still being - made. Most notably, Campbell pointed out all tactical signal forces in the continental United States have transferred into the FORSCOM Readiness Core Enterprise for training, readiness and sourcing, thus facilitating the Army Forces Generation process.

"This has allowed FORSCOM, as the global force provider, to more effectively prioritize, synchronize and prepare force packages in support of combatant commanders," Campbell said.

FORSCOM is responsible for more than 832,000 Active and Reserve Component Soldiers, capable of rapidly responding whenever our friends or allies are in danger, fighting the nation's wars, and supporting civil authorities, all while transforming the Army.

Campbell then reminded the technology professionals of the "new norm" he had spoken to them about in 2009. It involves three paradigm shifts: 1) from a corps/division-centric Army to a modular, expeditionary brigade-centric Army, 2) from a linear-generation model to the rotational force-generation model of ARFORGEN, and 3) from the Reserve Component as a strategic reserve to an operational force.

With particular reference to ARFORGEN, Campbell emphasized, "The (Signal) policies, procedures, processes, operational requirements, information technologies, networks and C4I (Command and Control Systems and Components) that enable that linear generation model are not adequate to enable a rotational force generation model. And, they have to be adapted. In some cases, they will need to be reformed; in other cases, they will have to be transformed."

The general brought up the concept of "strategic inflection points," which a former Intel chief executive officer introduced in the mid-1990s as drivers of change. Campbell said leaders, both in the civilian and the military worlds, who fail to recognize and manage the change resulting from strategic inflection points will find their organizations less and less relevant.

"Over the course of my 40 years of service, I have witnessed what I believe to have been three distinct strategic inflection points - the adoption of the All Volunteer Force, the end of the Cold War and the Global War on Terrorism," he said.

The Army responded in each case with changes in doctrine, technology and training.

"Some believe we are at the next strategic inflection point, and it relates to the need to deal with a condition of persistent conflict against a hybrid threat," Campbell said.

The Army's last general on active duty with experience that hails from the Vietnam War, then called on the Signal Corps community to challenge assumptions, and to continue to transform and build, just as the larger Army must do to meet this new challenge.

He suggested ways the Signal community can do so:

• Provide signal support well below battalion level. Today, the operational requirement is to at least company level. As an example, he pointed to the company intelligence support teams.

• Optimize systems in order to provide robust network access throughout all phases of a campaign plan, not just the traditional kinetic phases of the plan.

• Information technology plans must not be static. They must be innovative, responsive and agile to meet the commander's needs today in the joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multi-national Contemporary Operational Environment.

• Today's multi-disciplined Soldier must understand automation, voice, and data communications and information applications. And, that Soldier needs to move from one to the other with ease.

• In the multi-echelon information environment, with vertical and horizontal requirements, there is a need to converge theater information architecture.

"It is essential to take a global view toward balancing Signal structure," Campbell said. "You must align your force structure in a way that supports the most efficient and effective accomplishment of the mission.

"The effort to balance the structure must include all three components of the Army -Active, National Guard and Reserve," he said. "And the structure must be organized in a way that supports joint and combined net-centric operations."

Campbell challenged those involved in designing a Signal structure to listen to the four-star commanders who are fighting the fight, and learn from their operational experience.

"The advent of the 'cyber-warfighting domain' requires continued reinforcement of Unity of Effort through the development of network operations doctrine that allows the CJOA (Combined/Joint Operations Area) commander to gain, maintain and dominate in the new domain, as well as in his classic warfighting disciplines," he said.

"Network operational theory and practice must move forward in ways that support this fundamental," Campbell concluded.

AFCEA is a non-profit association with 31,000 members worldwide from the military, technical and academic communities.

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