CIO pushes network-centric warfare

The top priority of the Defense Department's new chief information officer is pushing forward with network-centric warfare — using information systems to bridge the gap between the "sensors" and the "shooters."

John Stenbit, the new assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications and intelligence and the department's CIO, said this approach will enable any serviceman with a gun to determine the 10 best targets rather than having to wait for somebody else to tell him.

It will mean that "anybody can get any information at any time," Stenbit said in a meeting with reporters Aug. 24. He took over the CIO post Aug.7.

"That doesn't mean he's supposed to shoot," Stenbit said. "There has to be procedural controls.... But I do believe that it's very important that we decentralize decision-making."

The services must work together, he said, and DOD is increasingly depending on long-range weapons that put fewer U.S. soldiers at risk. But that also creates a gap, he said. "We're separating the shooter from the sensor, and we have to solve that problem. When that happens, you need information to exchange and be coordinated a lot," he said.

Traditionally, such coordination has taken time. But those efforts have to be done essentially in real time today, he said. "We need a different form of information exchange."

Another top priority is changing the information that is available, he said. "We've gotten very used to certain classes of information, and I think there are some that are going to be more useful in the future" than they have been in the past, he said.

Finally, Stenbit said he is going to focus on the reliability of information systems. "Once we start depending upon them, we'd better make sure they're there," he said.

Overall, he said that information technology can help free up money from the non-fighting arm of the military, thereby making more money available for force structure and modernization.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine,, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.


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