DOD presents Information Age budget

In order to respond to new threats more quickly, the Defense Department's $380 billion budget request for fiscal 2004 includes more than $24 billion focused on information technology-laden transformation efforts, and is attempting to bring DOD systems and processes into the Information Age, according to the Pentagon's top brass.

In his Feb. 5 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the budget request attempts to balance three competing demands:

* Winning the global war on terrorism by meeting near-term demands.

* Preparing for near-term threats by investing in readiness, people and modernization.

* Preparing for the future through transformation.

"We have an Industrial Age organization, yet we are living in an Information Age world, where new threats emerge suddenly, often without warning, to surprise us," Rumsfeld said in his prepared testimony. "We cannot afford not to change and rapidly if we hope to live in that world."

In order to accomplish its transformational goals, DOD has established six goals, two of which are IT-centered:

* Harnessing IT to link the U.S. military forces and enable them to fight jointly.

* Protecting U.S. information networks from attack and disabling enemies' networks.

The focal point of transformation is improving DOD's command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The fiscal 2004 request includes more than $3.9 billion to fund some key programs in that area:

* Transformational laser satellite communications, which should help ease DOD's bandwidth problems, at $452 million.

* The Joint Tactical Radio System, which uses software-centric radios that can be programmed to patch users into various radio frequencies, at $478 million.

* Cryptologic modernization, to improve protection of DOD networks, at $416 million.

* The Army's Future Combat Systems, which will equip Army vehicles with information and communications systems to give soldiers capabilities for command and control, surveillance and reconnaissance, direct and nonline-of-sight weapons firing, and personnel transport, at $1.7 billion.

* Deployable Joint Command and Control, which will provide intelligence processing, mission planning and control of combat operations for standing joint force headquarters, at more than $125 million.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the first deployable joint command and control system is scheduled for delivery in 2005, and when combined with other programs, "this effort will allow the joint force to truly transform the way it plans, coordinates and executes joint operations."

DOD also is changing the way it develops new systems whenever and wherever possible by employing the "spiral development" approach, which rolls out systems in small steps and then adds capabilities to the basic system as they become available, he said.

"In an age when terrorists move information at the speed of an e-mail, money at the speed of a wire transfer and people at the speed of a commercial jetliner, the Defense Department, I regret to say, is bogged down in bureaucratic processes of the Industrial Ageā€”not the Information Age," Rumsfeld said. "Some of our difficulties are self-imposed, to be sure. But some are the result of law and regulation. Together, they have created a culture that too often stifles innovation."

The budget request also includes $1.8 billion over the next six years for a Joint National Training Capability "to fund range improvements and permit more of both live and virtual joint training," he said.

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