Another approach to warfighting integration

Air Force office signals a new era of IT convergence and efficiency

Air Force officials said the service's newest information technology organization will be more than a one-stop shop for IT policy formulation and implementation.

They are expecting the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer to accomplish two key objectives of Gen. John Jumper, the service's chief of staff: rid service computers and networks of the dreaded Microsoft Windows hourglass and, in military parlance, shorten the kill chain.

Lt. Gen. William "Tom" Hobbins, director of the new office, called SAF/XC, said the convergence of the Air Force's warfighting IT, business IT and communications operations functions will help airmen target and attack the smaller, more mobile enemy targets they encounter in the war on terrorism.

Hobbins, speaking May 10 at the opening of the office, said he wants SAF/XC to build a reputation servicewide for "shortening the kill chain" and helping airmen "become analyzers not just inputters of data."

In December, Air Force officials announced the creation of SAF/XC, which represents a merger of the former offices of the CIO, deputy chief of staff for warfighting integration and deputy chief of staff for installations and logistics.

Michael Dominguez, acting secretary of the Air Force, called SAF/XC a big step. He said the office took longer than expected to materialize because change is hard, but it will enable the service to dominate air, space and information.

Hobbins said Air Force officials' recent efforts to organize SAF/XC will ensure that the service's warfighting IT, business IT and communications operations functions will receive the necessary attention.

Rob Thomas, a member of the Senior Executive Service and a business IT expert from his years working at the Treasury Department and participating in the CIO Council, will serve as Hobbins' deputy. Thomas previously served as deputy chief of staff of warfighting integration under Hobbins.

The office consists of three directorates, with a civilian and two generals as leaders. Information, Services and Integration, led by Maj. Gen. Charles Croom, will integrate data for Air Force, U.S. and coalition warfighters. Operations and Support Integration, led by Maj. Gen. Gregory Powers, will manage warfighting and business IT. Policy, Planning and Resources, led by Senior Executive Service civilian David Tillotson, will link architectures, warfighting, and capital and strategic planning.

Each of the directorates consists of at least four divisional offices. The Directorate for Information, Services and Integration, for example, has offices for fixed network operations, expeditionary network operations, enterprise information services, information assurance, architecture integration, and force development and transformation.

SAF/XC includes four other groups for assessments, client services, operational support modernization and Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard advisers. The IT office also controls four field operating agencies: the Air Force's Communications Agency, Frequency Management Agency, Agency for Modeling and Simulation, and Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center.

"This is a natural evolution that links warfighting systems with business systems for a competitive advantage," Hobbins said.

Air Force officials considered linking warfighting and business IT in 2003 when they formed the Commanders Integrated Product Team, which led to the formation of SAF/XC, said Jack Woodward, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who last served as director of communications and information systems and deputy CIO.

"Hobbins has taken on the tough challenge of synchronizing warfighting IT with combat support IT," said Woodward, who is now executive vice president of Accenture's National Security Systems unit.

Hobbins comes to the new job with a strategy: His office will work on plans to integrate the Air Force's warfighting and business IT systems with the systems of the other military services, reduce the number of people and amount of equipment in the Air and Space Operations Centers command facilities by 30 percent, update the CIO governance process, and develop and publish an information assurance policy.

"We want to close the seams in the kill chain," he said.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.


  • Social network, census

    5 predictions for federal IT in 2017

    As the Trump team takes control, here's what the tech community can expect.

  • Rep. Gerald Connolly

    Connolly warns on workforce changes

    The ranking member of the House Oversight Committee's Government Operations panel warns that Congress will look to legislate changes to the federal workforce.

  • President Donald J. Trump delivers his inaugural address

    How will Trump lead on tech?

    The businessman turned reality star turned U.S. president clearly has mastered Twitter, but what will his administration mean for broader technology issues?

  • moving ahead

    The bid to establish a single login for accessing government services is moving again on the last full day of the Obama presidency.

  • Shutterstock image (by Jirsak): customer care, relationship management, and leadership concept.

    Obama wraps up security clearance reforms

    In a last-minute executive order, President Obama institutes structural reforms to the security clearance process designed to create a more unified system across government agencies.

  • Shutterstock image: breached lock.

    What cyber can learn from counterterrorism

    The U.S. has to look at its experience in developing post-9/11 counterterrorism policies to inform efforts to formalize cybersecurity policies, says a senior official.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group