Rumsfeld outlines risks, rewards

2002 annual report to the President and the Congress from Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

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The Defense Department's focus on network-centric operations carries the responsibility that those systems are secure and available if the United States is going to fight effectively, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in his annual report to Congress and President Bush.

"U.S. forces must leverage information technology and innovative network-centric concepts of operation to develop increasingly capable joint forces," Rumsfeld said in the document, issued Aug. 16. He said that the war in Afghanistan has demonstrated the military's ability to use a variety of network combat elements from all of the services.

"This joint action only hints at the potential opportunities that can be exploited through new ways to connect seamlessly our air, sea and ground forces," he wrote. "IT holds vast potential for maximizing the effectiveness of American men and women in uniform."

But those information systems must be protected from attack and new capabilities for effective information operations must be developed, Rumsfeld wrote.

"The emergence of advanced information networks holds promise for vast improvements in joint U.S. capabilities, and it also provides the tools for non-kinetic attacks by U.S. forces," he said. Potential adversaries could exploit vulnerabilities if they are left unchecked, he warned.

"In a networked environment, information assurance is critical," Rumsfeld said. "Information systems must be protected from attack, and new capabilities for effective information operations must be developed."

The United States must also carry that information assurance effort to space because of the service's dependence on space-based technologies that enable network-centric operations through use of satellite communications.

"No nation relies more on space for its national security than the United States," he said. "Yet elements of the U.S. space architecture — ground stations, launch assets and satellites in orbit — are threatened by capabilities that are increasingly available."

The report also stresses the importance of Rumsfeld's "transformation" effort.

"Transformation is fundamentally about redefining war on our terms by harnessing an ongoing revolution in military affairs," he said. That transformation has conceptual, cultural and technological dimensions.

"Fundamental changes in the conceptualization of war as well as in organizational culture and behavior are required to bring it about," he said.

The annual report also stresses DOD's efforts to streamline its business operations by improving its financial management and its ability to buy new technology.

"Transforming DOD's outdated support structure is a key step in achieving a more capable fighting force," Rumsfeld said.

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 DorobekInsider.com, 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, FCW.com, 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 PlanetGov.com, 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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