Air Force chief derides 'tribes'

The Air Force must break down its "tribal" platforms and procedures and integrate them using information technology if it is to succeed in the war against terrorism, according to the service's chief of staff.

"The problem with the Air Force is that we're all about tribes" and protecting individual programs and platforms, said Gen. John Jumper Aug. 26 at the Air Force IT Conference in Montgomery, Ala. "Too few of us are about integration."

Unfortunately, the best integration occurs during wartime when such cooperation is essential and when people are more willing to break down cultural walls, Jumper said. The Air Force's "kill cycle" of find, fix, track, target, engage and assess could be significantly faster if integrated systems and programs were the rule instead of the exception.

"In this decade, the name of the game is integration," Jumper said. "We have the capabilities and technology today to be doing it much better than we are doing it."

Maj. Gen. Craig Weston, vice commander of the Air Force's Electronic Systems Center, said IT is the foundation of the service's command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems. "IT is the glue that binds together individual Air Force weapons systems" and makes them into a "system of systems," Weston said, adding that some current capabilities were not even thought possible a year ago.

Another goal of using IT to integrate systems is to save lives. The casualties during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan might have been minimized if those in the field "had all the information they could have had and assets in the right place," Jumper said. "That's our goal, that's our job, that's our mission."

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