Bringing back the minutemen

The Air Force is experimenting with several information technologies designed,

among other things, to reduce from hours to "single-digit minutes" the time

needed to locate, target and attack enemy positions.

The Air Force's Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment (JEFX) 2000 took

place Aug. 28 to Sept. 15 from three main sites: Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Nellis

Air Force Base, Nev.; and Langley Air Force Base, Va. Those sites were linked

to various sites nationwide as well as to airborne and ground-based intelligence,

surveillance and reconnaissance systems considered critical to employing

expeditionary aerospace power.

"Through JEFX, we're putting new technologies and new operational processes

into the hands of warfighters much sooner," said Maj. Gen. Gerald Perry-man

of the aerospace command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance

center at Lang-ley. According to Gen. John Jumper, commander of Air Combat

Command, one focus is on the information technology software and hardware

that will allow the information from various command, control, communications,

intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems to be rapidly fused

and disseminated, allowing a dramatic reduction in the time needed to target

and attack enemy forces and equipment.

"I think we can get this down to single-digit minutes," Jumper said,

adding that "rapid targeting will characterize warfare in this century."

Air Force officials said that during the conflict in Kosovo, so-called time-critical

targeting was often dramatically reduced — in one case down to about 10

minutes — but the service now is using the experiment to explore ways to

make that the norm.

So far, the service has been successful with the "single-digit minute"

targeting objective only part of the time, Jumper said, adding, "That's

the nature of experiments." He hinted, though, that reduced times could

become a way of life during expeditionary force operations "within a few

years."

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