Army orders ISC revamp

Following a year of study the Army plans to reorganize its Information Systems Command (ISC) leaving the Arizona-based unit with only its worldwide long-haul communications mission while dispersing its acquisition systems engineering and software development units to commands in Georgia New Jersey and Virginia.

Although this change will not result in any immediate reduction of the 3 100 ISC civilian and military staff members at Fort Huachuca Ariz. the reaction from the Arizona congressional delegation was strong. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) sent a letter to Jayson Spiegel deputy assistant secretary of the Army for force management manpower and resources asking that he "defer...the reorganization plan until...significant issues relating to information management are addressed."

Despite this letter the Army plans to move quickly. The service said in a statement that on Sept. 16 the Fort Hua-chuca-based ISC will become the Army Signal Command a subordinate unit of Forces Command Fort Gordon Ga. On Oct. 1 1997 ASC will undergo another name change to the 9th U.S. Army Signal Command.

ISC units that conduct information systems acquisition including the Army Small Computer Program located at Fort Monmouth N.J. will come under the control of the Communications-Electronics Command (Cecom) also at Fort Monmouth and the Program Executive Office for Standard Army Management Information Systems (PEO Stamis) Fort Belvoir Va.

Cecom also will take over former ISC software and hardware engineering missions the Army said. "As Information Age technology blurs the distinction among tactical strategic and sustaining base capabilities having a single integrated engineering agency is critical for coherent programs leading to a seamless data exchange " according to an Army statement.

Combat development for all signal units will be consolidated at the Army Signal Command Fort Gordon.Emmett Paige Jr. assistant secretary of Defense for command control communications and intelligence and former ISC commander last week said "This evolution like those of the past will pay dividends in the years ahead as the Army go[es] about trying to improve [its] ability to get the job done more effectively with less resources.

"There are many ways to go about organizing for the tasks that must be done. The Army leadership has not taken this effort lightly as they fully recognize the importance of C4 to the warfighting capabilities of the Army forces and war-fighting [commanders in chief]. I will certainly do any and everything I possibly can as an old soldier and as the ASD/C3I to help ensure the success of the Army's efforts " Paige said.

Bob Dornan senior vice president of Federal Sources Inc. said that if the Army succeeds in centralizing its procurement information management and engineering functions "it should make control and coordination easier."Maj. Gen. Charles Sutten the ISC commander said that a "more clearly defined mission [for ASC] would lead to stronger and faster responses in meeting communications requirements and confronting military contingencies around the world."

ASC will retain control of key ISC operational units such as the 5th Signal Brigade Sutten said. ASC will "provide strategic and tactical communications support for all military components Defense agencies and nongovernmental organizations" through its worldwide assets which provide long-haul communications primarily over the Defense Department-owned and operated satellite system.

Retired Maj. Gen. Sam Leffler Sutten's predecessor as ISC commander said the reorganization "is a very cloudy picture.... The structure is too diffuse and I wonder what will happen when we need a quick response to a contingency." Leffler added that it seems to be driven by the acquisition side of the Army not the operators or warfighters.

Though the Army portrayed the changes as a logical revamp of missions roles and responsibilities McCain did not buy it. In the letter to Spiegel signed also by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.) McCain wrote: "It is unclear what `problem' in the Army's handling of its information systems will be `fixed' by disestablishing the major command structure for information management. We are not aware of any serious deficiencies in the current system which could not be fixed in a less Draconian fashion."

McCain added: "With the continuing emphasis on joint service activities and responsibilities it would seem logical to focus on combined information management requirements of all services rather than just the Army. It is not apparent that this plan has been fully coordinated among all the services."

McCain also questioned how decentralizing information management would help the Army combat information warfare attacks. "Information management is a critical requirement for our military forces " he said. "Abolishing the Army's major information systems command and reassigning its missions seems premature."

Spiegel will visit Fort Huachuca to detail the plan this week.

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