Air Force seeks greater 'reachback'

The Air Force needs greater investment in information networks at U.S. bases

to extend its "reachback" concept, according to Gen. Michael Ryan, the Air

Force chief of staff.

"We have some of [the infrastructure], but we don't have all of it,"

Ryan said. "A lot of it was built in the Cold War era, and we need to update

that.for large-capacity throughput. It's the same problem any company has

today with the amount of information they need fast."

Under the reachback concept, forces deployed in hot spots around the

world use IT to request supplies and equipment as needed, rather than transporting

and stockpiling goods in the vicinity of the hot zone. In addition, reachback

enables forces to tap into vast databases for critical battlefield information.

The concept is designed to dramatically reduce the number of personnel

and the amount of equipment transported to hot zones.

Despite Ryan's call to modernize air base IT infrastructure, reachback

worked during the recent conflict in Kosovo, according to an Air Force posture

statement.

"Satellite communications enabled warfighters to reach back to the United

States for real-time information and analysis while avoiding the need to

deploy such systems," the statement said. "By reaching back to [the continental

United States] for real-time support, theater forces were both leaner and

better supported than if we had deployed CONUS forces and their equipment

to Europe."

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