Air Force creates new tech policy office

Air Force officials will consolidate three information technology offices, a move they say will ensure that current and future IT projects are integrated into the service's warfighting operations.

Officials announced last week that the service would create a new Directorate of Networks and Warfighting Integration by consolidating the offices of Communications Operations; the Chief Information Officer, led by John Gilligan; and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Warfighting Integration, led by Lt. Gen. Tom Hobbins.

"Successful provision of warfighting integration requires an enterprise approach of total information cycle activities, including people, processes and technology," wrote James Roche, Air Force secretary, and Gen. John Jumper, Air Force chief of staff, in a Dec. 2 memorandum.

Some industry officials said differences between Gilligan and Hobbins about the service's IT policy and control also may have prompted the decision to create the new directorate.

Both Hobbins and Gilligan downplayed suggestions of tension between them but acknowledged that the new Air Force IT directorate at the Pentagon will deliver IT to service members faster than has been possible under separate organizations.

"It clears up the rules and responsibilities," Hobbins said.

Gilligan said the Air Force's warfighting and business IT policies and programs often overlapped, and officials had to pause to avoid conflict.

Both officers said the new IT organization will better serve the Air Force. "This is a great move for the Air Force because it takes three great organizations and puts them all together," Hobbins said.

Gilligan added that Air Force officials created the three organizations three years ago to improve the service's warfighting and business IT capabilities and communications operations. "This is the next step in the evolution of the Air Force organization," he said.

Gilligan said officials in the service's CIO office created policies and programs to support an enterprise architecture and streamline the purchase and management of hardware and software. Officials in the warfighting integration office improved connectivity among pilots and set up

the means for them to receive data more quickly.

Both capabilities are necessary for attacking the small, mobile targets warfighters encounter in the war on terrorism.

As part of the reorganization, Air Force officials will transfer the Air Force Pentagon Communications Agency to the Air Force's Office of the Administrative Assistant. The communications agency, which handles day-to-day computer and network operations for Air Force headquarters at the Pentagon, has been part of the communications operations office.

Industry officials applauded the integration decision. The new Directorate of Networks and Warfighting Integration makes sense given the military's evolving network-centric warfare doctrine, which relies on IT policies and programs to better share and access data, said Gerry Robbins, a business development official in the Tactical Systems Division of Northrop Grumman's Mission Systems business unit.

"We see net-centric operations and IT merging together," said Robbins, who led a military IT policy and acquisition study conducted by the Government Electronics and IT Association. Robbins said the industry trade group anticipated nine months ago that Air Force officials might create the directorate.

Air Force officials expect to present their plans for the new office to Roche and Jumper next month. Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force vice chief of staff, and William Davidson, the service's administrative assistant who serves as the senior career civilian adviser, will be involved in the planning.

Asked if he would like to oversee the new directorate, Hobbins answered, "Of course."

Air Force reorganizes IT

Air Force officials announced last week that they will consolidate three technology offices to promote better integration of current and future information technologies with the service's warfighting operations. A three-star general will oversee the new IT directorate. A Senior Executive Service civilian will serve as the deputy.

One new office, the Directorate of Networks and Warfighting Integration, will combine three current offices:

* Deputy Chief of Staff for Warfighting Integration.

* Chief Information Officer.

* Communications Operations.

Source: Air Force

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