U.S. Strategic Command

 

Speeches

AFCEA Convention

By Lt. General Kehler | Washington, D.C. | June 16, 2006

LtGen Kehler: I have two versions of remarks to give to you. Y'all could get up and leave at this point and I would not be able to see a thing, so don't do that, but -- [Laughter] -- just so you know. That becomes important later when we get to the Q&A because I've already told my staff to get up and do the questions. [Laughter].
I have two versions of remarks to give here today. One I was filling out a little earlier today on an airplane on the back of an envelope. The other is a 25 page speech. When Herb said there were Q's and A's, I've got the 25 page speech here for you. [Laughter]. Just in case.
It really is good to be here today. Let me say that on behalf of General Cartwright and the men and women of Strategic Command, we actually enjoy coming to forums like this. Over the last couple of years not only have I had the opportunity to speak to the AFCEA Heartland TechNet Symposium just about a month ago, but I have spoken to a number of AFCEA events. That means two things for all of you. Number one, I can't give the same speech that I gave before; and number two, and more importantly, I am completely and totally out of jokes. So what you get here is what you're going to get.
The theme of your conference this year, though, is I think spot-on -- Information Sharing. That's all about advances in technology and how advances in technology and communications are putting folks in touch around the globe in ways that we never thought could ever happen.
Here's a good news and bad news. Let me start with the bad news. While technology and the Internet have increased global productivity, it unleashed a lot of positive economic factors, they've also had profound effects on the face of national security and on the way we traditionally think of warfare and the national security things that go along with that.
Winston Churchill told the British House of Commons in 1934, ""Wars come very suddenly,"" and he was advocating for a British Air Force at the time. We were reminded of this on 9/11, how quickly war can come to us. We remain a nation at war today against a very aggressive, determined, and fleeting adversary with the ability to move across borders that are both defined and undefined, and in ways that are faster than we've ever seen before.
That means that cyber-terrorism is an attractive means for disrupting governments, disrupting corporations, disrupting economies, and disrupting the lives of citizens near and far. Unfortunately for us, cyber-terrorism is cheap and it's fast.
Today's terrorist moves at the speed of information, which as we know, is pretty fast.
Cyber-terrorism is also more anonymous than traditional terrorist methods and as we know, it is difficult to track an adversary who doesn't have to pass physical checkpoints, agents or borders in order to unleash havoc. And by the way, cyber-terrorists can take lots of different forms. In some cases even those that we wouldn't classify as terrorists, perhaps someone who's just out to see what they can do, have the same kind of effect in cyberspace.
We know there are numerous cyber targets for terrorists to attack. Government computers, corporate computers, personal computers, public works, airline computers, and the list goes on. Those are all attractive targets and can be, most importantly, attacked remotely.
As we all know, cyber-terrorists love media attention and they don't have to work very hard to get it because the media does, in fact, cover their activities. That's the bad news.
Here's the good news. The very same technology that can be used maliciously also provides us new, more efficient ways to protect ourselves and our allies. The challenge we face is changing our culture to keep up with the advances in technology and to take full advantage of this new way that we can look at providing national security. Basically we need to work hard to use information technology as an area of strategic advantage.
You only have to look as far as your PC to see that the model is there, the policy and doctrine largely exist. The challenge for us is to develop tools and infrastructure and to make them part of our military fabric. When you walk around in this display area today, you can see where all of you are thinking very hard about how to use these new technologies in just that way.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said, ""The single most transforming asset in our force will not be a weapon system but a set of interconnections."" That's where we're focusing our efforts at Strategic Command -- connecting in a way to ensure our success and to guarantee the safety of those interconnections. In fact the top priority at US Strategic Command is to accelerate our transformation to a truly interconnected organization, what we refer to as a netcentric force.
Virtually every DoD mission will benefit from necentricity. We're building all of our future major mission capabilities with this in mind. We're committed to increasing the pace of delivering ubiquitous, secure and trusted information access and the sharing of knowledge.
To build this distributed, collaborative, secured and assured netcentric force, we're moving forward on many fronts. First, we're changing the way we think about information and sharing. That means we are changing our cultural approaches to netcentric operations to ensure that the right people get the right information at the right time and then work together toward the same goals and objectives.
The challenge for STRATCOM today is to share data across sensors, command centers and warfighting communities of interest that are distributed. An even greater challenge is to manage data such that it is captured and available for everyone to use now and in the future.
Traditionally, collecting and securing data has received a higher priority than sharing data. That's not the case in STRATCOM today. Now more than ever we need to reverse that tradition because at its heart netcentricity is about people sharing information and knowledge collaboratively to address our top warfighting needs.
If you need persistent surveillance and reconnaissance you have to share information. If you need to increase your operational speed to combat an agile, fleeting, global enemy, you have to share information. If you need to fuse intelligence, planning and operations, you have to share information. If you need to establish effective coalitions, you need to share information.
Now the key word in every one of those things I just said was ""share"". In fact we have a saying at STRATCOM -- ""Information sharing is a strategic advantage.""
Now obviously we still have to protect sensitive sources and methods, information, capabilities, techniques, and that will not change. But frequently the first step to sharing information is the realization that you must, can and will share it. That's the cultural issue.
The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review addressed the importance of becoming a netcentric defense organization when it stated ""Achieving the full potential of netcentricity requires viewing information as an enterprise to be shared, and as a weapon system to be protected.""
The foundation for netcentric operations is the global information grid -- a globally interconnected end to end set of trusted and protected information systems. The GIG optimizes the process for collecting, processing, storing, disseminating, managing, and sharing information within the Department of Defense and with other partners.
Under the Revised Unified Command Plan, STRATCOM has the lead responsibility for operating and protecting the GIG. It's a responsibility we take very very seriously.
At STRATCOM we're focusing on the ability to provide decisionmakers with data, information and knowledge to help them make information management and information dominance part of the warfighting, what we used to call in the past, it's got different names now, [UDALOO]. We know our adversaries are doing the same.
Today every Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine in STRATCOM can share information with our four star commander on a 24x7 basis. Think about that for a minute. And most importantly, vice versa. This is a total paradigm shift from the way most of us grew up in the military, but it's a change we're getting more comfortable with at STRATCOM all the time. You cannot fight battles in today's information age without reliable, real time information.
An important tool at STRATCOM that enables this continuous flow of information is called SKIWEB. The acronym stands for Strategic Knowledge Integration, and we use SKIWEB as a knowledge management network.
SKIWEB is resident on STRATCOM's classified network and is available to anyone with access to that network. We use it in the headquarters as a never-ending Ops Intel meeting, and in fact it is the key tool the senior leadership uses to stay abreast of events unfolding throughout the command and the world in real time. SKIWEB provides immediate information updates, tipping, queuing, information sharing, scrolling headers, links, and events logs, all prioritized by the commander's critical information requirements or CCIRs.
One of the key SKIWEB features is the ability for everyone to participate in it by blogging. Any airman, yeoman or PFC can blog on the SKIWEB. We expect and encourage everyone to blog. In fact you buy your way into the blog with the value you add, not the rank you hold. Both stars and stripes are welcome to participate if they contribute to what we're trying to accomplish, and it all happens in real time.
If we wait for perfect information that plods through the old Napoleonic structure, we risk being irrelevant in today's world.
I'm going to say this twice, because I think that this is an important take-away point for you. We have a command chain in STRATCOM, not an information chain. Let me say that again. We have a command chain in STRATCOM, not an information chain. In fact I would offer that the information age finally allows us to flow information to all places in the command chain at the same time. An infosphere, if you will, within which command is exercised. The command chain operates inside the sphere and it does so informed with the knowledge of a never-ending OpsIntel meeting that we have posted on SKIWEB.
Now SKIWEB does not replace the staffing process, nor is SKIWEB a command and control or battle management tool. Rather, it allows us to enter and exit this never-ending operations and intelligence update really at our choice. In fact, we do not have at the four star level in STRATCOM, a weekly or every-other day OpsIntel meeting. All of the operational and intelligence update that is going to the four star is going to him on SKIWEB. And by the way, it's going to all the rest of us on SKIWEB at the same time.
So it's a very interesting situation that you can join at any time and that alerts you to critical change when it occurs.
We place a premium on posting information quickly and we fully understand that all of the information may not be 100 percent correct all of the time and it may not initially provide us with perfect solutions. That's okay. Military commanders are used to dealing with ambiguity. It's more important to have some information than no information at all, or perfect information late. After all, STRATCOM is a global command and as such we must be plugged into what's happening around the globe at all times. SKIWEB provides that plug. When a major event happens, it gets posted. If there are inaccuracies in the posting, they get corrected and it doesn't take long for any of that to happen.
That's not only a great tool, but it's a great equalizer. Let me give you an anecdote. I've served twice now in Omaha. The first time I served in Omaha, Herb gave me credit for being in the Air Force for 21 years, it's actually 31 years. So the first time I served in Omaha was 1982 to 1985. If that's before any of you in here were born, just leave now. [Laughter]. And don't you dare ask me a question. [Laughter].
In 1982 to 1985, and some of you remember this, in SAC, in those days and the JSTPS, there was a weekly what they called Balcony Briefing. It was done down in the command center and it was given to the four star CINC, as we called them in that day, Commander in Chief. So CINCSAC got a weekly update and that briefing, as I recall, and I've had this conversation with people that used to give it and I think I'm right here, it used to be given every Thursday morning. What I do recall as a captain in those days was that our preparation for that began on Tuesday, and there was a cutoff time after which you were not allowed to put anything new in the Thursday briefing because if you did, that screwed up the command chain, which was also the information chain, and by golly captain, don't ever stand up and offer something in real time at the meeting because that hasn't been vetted with the major, the lieutenant colonel, the colonel, the two or three brigadiers. There were a lot of generals in Omaha in those days. I'd like to have a few more there now, but it's just us. And you better not offer from the sideline that, but wait, there's something new.
Now in fairness here, there were some things that were updated in real time, so don't let me paint too outrageous a picture here, but in concept what I'm telling you is right. What I would offer is by the time the four star walked in and the lights went down in that meeting, that information was old. It's because there was an information chain that followed the command chain.
So today nothing makes us happier than to blog onto SKIWEB and find a solution to a challenge from someone who was out in the field who's already faced and solved it. That's pretty powerful when you think about the ability to tap into this really limitless supply of experts that are able to help you solve your problem. Recognizing, of course, that you have got to treat this information just as you would treat answers to questions at an OpsIntel meeting. If you know the answer, you provide it. If you don't, you say I'll get back to you and we press on.
I'm gone all day, I left this morning. Because it was kind of early I didn't go either into the classified network in my house or in the office and get on SKIWEB this morning, but when I go back this evening I will, and after ten minutes on SKIWEB it will be as if I didn't miss anything all day.
So the common thread that links all of this together is knowledge. It's the most vital product because effective command and control depends on information that's accurate, timely, dependable, available. By achieving agile responsive distributed operations enabled by meaningful information exchange, shared objectives and shared situational awareness, we can build the asymmetric advantage we need to triumph over our adversaries.
We're doing some other things as well. This summer we will open our new Global Innovation and Strategy Center. We have to have an acronym for everything and this is no different, we call it the GISC, Global Innovation and Strategy Center. It's a learning lab, basically, in which we work with partners in government, industry and academia to provide unique global strategy, timely courses of action, and new operational tools and analyses to assist STRATCOM and its missions.
It proves to be a very interesting concept but there's an interesting sub-plot here where we're going to need your help, and this applies not only for what we're trying to do in our Global Innovation and Strategy Center, but in your own industries and elsewhere in the military, and that is do we have the people that we need for the future to help us maintain this strategic advantage.
There are lots of facts and figures on the table today that would suggest that we have some cause for concerns as we look at our academic institutions and who is getting into the hard sciences and how many of them there are and what their interests are for the future. If we're not careful, we could be losing our competitive edge. That's why your activities with scholarships and sponsoring students and your outreach programs, all of the things that you do as an organization, are so critical.
I know that bringing high quality people in to follow all of you is as important to you as it is to us. Of course we're not suggesting that the sky is falling. There are those who are writing about this that say yes, in fact the US is still the leading engine for innovation in the world. We do have the best graduate programs, the best scientific infrastructure, the capital resource investment to exploit it as well. But we need to be mindful and watchful for this kind of issue as we go forward.
Because what we don't want to do is we do not want to fall behind in this competitive edge that we enjoy, that you all tap into to maintain your competitive edge.
In this Global Innovation and Strategy Center we're going to put together people from all different locations. We're going to build virtual teams when we need to and we're going to build teams that will not be permanent so that we can keep a fresh infusion of ideas. The center itself is going to be lean and agile and responsive while leveraging the full spectrum of traditional and non-traditional resources. Different teams will tackle different challenges. Some experts will come and go and we will basically be changing and adapting to each new challenge rather than perpetuating a single group of experts whose expertise might stagnate in a permanently established think tank.
Now the GISC is helping us tackle some of our problems that bear directly on information sharing and the theme of your conference. First is data standards. If we want to shift Global ISR from platform based to sensor based, we all have to see XYZ and T the same. And when you walk around on the display floor here you ask yourself with the sensors that you're talking about, with the communications networks that you're talking about, with the potential of being able to tap into all those sensors and all that information at one time, basically, do we have the right standards in place in order to make sure that all of them can contribute the way we want?
Elaboration tools. We're in the midst of a pilot program that will help us collaborate on time sensitive global strike planning and execution over distributed differences. Netcentricity. We're working with industry and the acquisition team to demonstrate limited routing capabilities in various places to include, if we can make this demonstration go, a space-based demonstration of routing capability, maybe within the next couple of years.
Data sharing. We're working with several of the labs to develop means to share data for multiple sensors. This ties into the standards piece that I was mentioning to you. And of course the missile defense system is already leading the way in this regard.
Finally we've started to work on the development of collaboration suites. This is physical work environments that tallow team-oriented discussion on a wide range of issues. Think of them as problem solving environments and I think you'd be just about right on. Putting experts together regardless of where those experts are located. We intend to put the first collaboration suites in the Global Innovation and Strategy Center and in the Global Operation Center at STRATCOM Headquarters.
Before the widespread availability of broadband networks, most collaboration occurred in face to face meetings. While there's no doubt that face to face interactions can yield quick and good results, they're not always possible. So we find that this is very promising as we look to sharing information and using that to gain knowledge with which we can command and control our force.
Although we have marvelous technology available today that allows communication to occur instantaneously around the world, changing the culture to encourage people to use this technology remains our biggest challenge. You can see we're working hard to develop new ways of ensuring our nation's security but we can't do it alone. We need the best minds and ideas from academia, private industry, and the civilian and military sides of government to stay ahead of today's adversaries.
Our partnership must continue to grow and mature as the military and industrial communities build on our long history of cooperation. However, I will repeat what I said. The greatest challenge to building true global integration will be achieving the culture change I spoke of earlier. Culture change is hard, but it's not optional.
Writing in a book called Cultures of Excellence the authors Lou Tyson and Dr. Glenn Turrell cite six key reasons that culture change is so tough. First, culture is invisible. Second, culture is an aggregation of behaviors. Third, cultural trades tend to perpetuate themselves. Fourth, culture creates comfort zones. Fifth, human beings tend to behave in accordance with the truth as they believe it. Whether that's the case or not. Finally, culture once fixed is difficult to change.
How many times have you heard people say in your industry, in your organization, in your military branch, I think change is great as long as it doesn't have anything to do with me. [Laughter].
Information sharing is as much cultural as it is technical. The people in this room know how to tackle technical issues and challenges. Let's all be equally committed to tackling the cultural issue. How we think about a problem often defines how we approach it technically. So it's time to pull information sharing out of the command chain and to put information where it belongs, at the fingertips of everyone in the command chain who needs it to fight and win in today's world.
Four days after the Battle of Britain began, Winston Churchill said, ""This is a war of the unknown warriors."" Our unknown warriors are in this room today. I salute you for taking the time to discuss this important topic over the next day and a half. You have a rich pool of experienced, talented professionals in attendance and I'm confident that your efforts will result in important initiatives to enhance the safety of our network world.
Thanks for inviting me to speak, and although -- I guess I can say this with tongue in check, I look forward to your questions.
Thank you.
(Applause).
Question: Thank you for sharing your vision, General, today. I'm not one of your staff members, so I apologize.
My question is two part with the web collaboration tool that you alluded to earlier. Can you offer any discussion or feedback on how the data becomes, how it moves from the unstructured to the structured, to atoneable intelligence, if that may be the case. You mentioned it's kind of, is it open for everyone to tag or to verify?
Then my second part, and if you can give us a URL for that. Is that secret?
LtGen Kehler: I don't have it with me.
Question: The second part, with regard to the GISC, how much of that effort is uniform basing versus suit basing, even though a lot of our real smart guys in college don't wear suits, but how much are you engaging the public sector in that?
LtGen Kehler: Let me take the second part first, if I may, because I've probably already forgotten the first question, but let me take the second part first.
Much of the GISC will be non-uniform, I guess. There will be uniform presence there, but much of it will be non-uniform, and it will be very very small. The standing part of the GISC will be very small.
What we've basically done is we've established a facility that will allow for collaboration and then the intent is to go form teams on a particular issue when that becomes necessary. We have found already in the work that we have done that people are willing to join the teams because normally they are working on a problem that participation will add value to what you do to work on this problem. So we find that people are willing to participate. In some cases they've been willing to participate pro bono. In some cases we're able to tap into other government related or government activities. The bottom line is that we are focusing on STRATCOM's problem sets, so by definition some of that is pretty broad stuff. So we are finding so far that there is a great willingness to come in and want to participate with us. The problem we're going to have, and this is not a bad problem, is sorting through which tough problems you want to take on first.
Here's the other thing we're trying to do. We're trying to insist that at the GISC you walk in the door as someone with a problem. This is not a manufactured problem. At the other end of the process you are wiling to pick it up and take it so we do not bog the GISC down in a forever on one project kind of an issue. That's why we'll put virtual teams together, we'll work on your problem and you a solution and you walk out the door. What you want to do with it from there on out is up to you.
The first part was how do you make sure that in SKIWEB, for example, that the information is still going through the normal processes to make sure that it does get refined. I would tell you that is the nature of SKIWEB itself. What is happening is events or information gets posted on SKIWEB as a discreet activity. If it's Critical Information Requirement it goes to a certain place, sets an alert and lets the commander know that something is happening in real time.
For all the other things, what then happens is people will form almost a natural community of interest around that subject and so the intelligence people will come in and they will say okay, we have information about this. A blog will say we've got the following intelligence information about this. Then that will be refined. Here's what we don't know. Then someone else from one of the distributive commands will come on the line and say here's another piece of the puzzle.
So as you post the initial event what you find in the blog is you're beginning to get refinement and people have received that event not just form SKIWEB but from their own community sources as well and you find they are off already working these issues as they arise.
We're also taking advantage, there's a lot of information that flows around in database updates today. In the strategic forces, for example, when alert forces go off alert, come on alert, those kind of things, when sensors go down, when sensors come back up, that information is being reported today, so we have tapped into those databases and they will now report in SKIWEB.
So we are gradually getting our arms around the best use of this tool. What we've done to date is we've accepted the fact that there's probably too much information that all looks alike flowing into here. We've accepted the fact that some of it will be ambiguous so that we can get it going and then you can begin to refine what SKIWEB does for you so we can make it more and more and more focused and useful.
So I am very encouraged. And believe me, we had a headquarters full of skeptics at the start of this. It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is very very intriguing to watch this and it is very useful. So when we've exercised with it we find that it keeps us supplied with knowledge.
Question: How can you avoid a situation where the military is building its plans based on the success in is building its plans based on the success in Iraq and Afghanistan, while in a sense the young generation now is not dealing with lessons learned from the Cold War, from the Soviet types, Soviet information warfare.
So how does one make sure that he does not take the wrong route based on successes in the short term?
LtGen Kehler: Good question. In lessons learned there are all kinds of lessons that you can learn from any given conflict. The question about whether or not they will apply to a future conflict are good questions, and whether you've learned something from the prior experiences that you've had. That's a good point.
We've become accustomed to operating, for example, in the Gulf in an environment of air supremacy. Is that a bad habit that you could possibly take into a future conflict? I am comfortable that we are considering those things.
There is this balance between having to meet the demands of the war that we have and the one that's going on today where the warfighters need us at STRATCOM in support and others in support to provide for them in the way that they need to for today's fight.
So I would say that we are mindful of that first. But second, we also understand, and particularly as we talk about information sharing and knowledge management, that this is a bigger picture.
One of the things that this command, I believe, brings to the table is this seamless perspective between the global perspective which is what you're talking about, and the fight that's going on. And the fact that this, the first, the G in GWOT stands for global, I think helps us to try to think through the global environment beyond the immediate battlespace where we have troops committed in the Middle East.
So I think we are thinking about that. It's a good point and it's one that we are trying to be very careful as we think through the future.
And by the way, I think we would tell you that if we can solve this data management issue to the extent that with a netcentric approach we can go harvest data, pull the data that each individual user needs for the circumstances that they find themselves in, and you are able to treat ISR sensors, for example, as an enterprise as opposed to ones that will come in and look for a specific thing for a specific time. I think that automatically takes you down a trail where you are accounting for tomorrow's fight as well as today's.
Thank you all.
 

(Applause).
 

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